My sixteen-year-old son and I stopped at Walmart the other day. The video games weren’t working while we were there, so, for a lack of anything else to do, he appeared at my side in one of the aisles. Although I would have preferred to have shopped without a sighing, grumbling male next to me, I mostly ignored him and got my shopping done. The entire time, I thought that I was the one who was being inconvenienced by him. Boy, was I wrong.
Once we got into the car, I got an earful.
“You are so loud,” he said.
“I know. I’ve always been loud,” I laughed.
“I embarrassed you?” I asked, stunned. All I had done, I thought, was purchase supplies.
“Of course you embarrassed me. But you really embarrassed yourself.”
“I did? How?”
“With your loud talking! Do you think anyone cares if you have warts?”
“It’s not funny! Why did you have to announce you were looking for wart medicine? And, didn’t you realize that when you asked me if I could find the Cetaphil lotion and that woman told you where to find it, she only told you to get you out of the aisle?”
“She did not! She was being helpful.”
“No, she wanted to get rid of you. If you spoke in a normal voice, she wouldn’t have heard you ask me where it was.”
“She was standing right next to me! Of course she would have heard me.” I lowered my voice to a whisper, “Do you want me to start talking like this?”
“What’s wrong with you?” my son exploded. “There’s no middle ground for you. You’re either over-the-top or under-the-top!”
I made the mistake of laughing again.
“What are you laughing about? It sure wasn’t funny when you asked, at the top of your lungs, if I needed a new deodorant.”
“Okay, I’m sorry about that. I wasn’t thinking,” I said.
“You NEVER think,” bellowed my son.
“Okay, who’s talking loudly, and rudely, now?” I asked.
“Well, at least I’m not talking in accents!”
“Accents?” I asked, in amazement.
“Yeah. When you said the housekeeper barked, ‘Tilex! Tilex!’ at you when she ran out of it, you used an accent! The woman behind you was Hispanic!”
“That was not a Hispanic accent I used,” I explained. “It’s my all-purpose accent. I don’t know how to speak with any real foreign accent.”
“Why would you use an accent EVER? Don’t you know how insulting that is?”
“Well, actually, to tell you the truth, no I don’t. I think society has taken this PC thing way too far. If you’re imitating someone, you imitate his or her voice, gestures, and accent. It shouldn’t be considered an insult, unless you’re being malicious.”
“It is NEVER okay to speak in accents,” he yelled. “Especially when you talk so loud.”
“Loudly,” I corrected.
“And then,” he continued, ignoring me, “when I tried to take the bags off the carousel, you told me to leave them there, because the cashier had a system and I was messing it up.”
“Well, he did have a system. He was trying to fill the bags equally, and you were interfering.”
“He didn’t mind. In fact, he rolled his eyes at me in sympathy.”
“He did?” I feigned shock. “Well, then I’d better go back in there and have a chat with him.”
My son looked at me, to see if I was serious. I burst out laughing. He tried to stifle a smile.
“Why do you put up with me?” I asked.
“Because I love you … even though you’re embarrassing and talk loud.”
“Loudly,” I said. “And thank you. I love you, too.”