SECRET CODES

Someone sent her this in an email.

It seems that two women started talking while waiting for their plane. One of them consulted her very ornate diamond wristwatch and said, “When I had my first child, my husband bought me this.”

“Why, bless your heart, isn’t that sweet,” said the second. “

And when I had my second, he bought me a Lexus.”

“Why, bless your heart, isn’t that sweet.”

“Did your husband buy you anything when you had your children?”

“Yes, he did. He sent me to charm school.”

“Charm school. Whatever for?” “So I could learn to say, ‘Why, bless your heart, isn’t that sweet,’ instead of ‘I really don’t give a damn, you bitch.’”

Secret codes abound. Spies, of course, come to mind. Hitchcock movies are masterpieces of meanings behind meanings. Lovers say things to each other that may sound innocent to the world at large, but have a special meaning known only to them. Sometimes a gesture suffices. Catchers to pitchers – a touch to the wrist has a different meaning than a touch to the ear. Closer to home, parents to children, wives to husband, husbands to wives — That Look conveys powerful messages and beware to those who do not heed them.

Her mother-in-law had secret codes. When her mother-in-law would answer a request for advice with, “No, no, you know everything,” it meant that the questioner was walking along the edge of a cliff and one more step would do her in. Her mother-in-law said that fairly often during the early years of the marriage, but as time passed and they felt more comfortable together, her mother-in-law would stop telling her how competent she was and would warn her before she took the final fatal step.

That warning usually started out as, “I really don’t know much about it, but…” Whenever she heard those words, she learned to pay very close attention because what her mother-in-law was really saying was, “I’ve been there, done that, and if you have half an ounce of brains in your head, you’ll listen to me.”

Now she herself is a mother-in-law several times over. Maybe people are different these days. Whenever she says, “No, no, you know everything,” they take it as a compliment and just go on doing whatever it was. And if she starts out by saying, “I really don’t know much about it,” they don’t stick around to listen to the rest of the sentence.

It’s totally frustrating.

Maybe she should forget about secret codes.

Maybe she should enroll in charm school instead.

Oh, bless their hearts, wouldn’t that be sweet?

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “SECRET CODES

  1. Paula, I like this very much and can definitely relate. We all have our secret codes, bless our hearts.

    Like

  2. jeanshriver

    oh how I love “Her”! My dad said Westerners sent their sons East to college so they’d learn to say “Good gracious” instead of “sonofabitch!:

    Like

  3. Estelle Markowitz

    Your “tongue in cheek” humor is delightful I’ll be sure to listen for your code words.
    Thanks, Paula.
    Estelle Markowitz

    Like

  4. Joan Kraus

    Definitely a woman’s story. How many men would pick up on a secret code?

    Like

  5. Barbara Pazanowski

    I love it Paula! Brought back smiles and giggles
    as I remembered some of those codes.!
    Thanks for the memories Paula!

    Like

  6. Susan Oren

    Love it!

    Like

  7. D Matzke

    Nice lead ins. A series of three. And although some say that this a nice woman’s piece, you made the effort to be inclusive. I would like to see more of the character in a drawn out story.

    Like

  8. Diana Bahr

    Submit it to the New Yorker!

    Like

  9. juliembrown8

    “SHE” is one of my favorite characters!

    Like

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