a sack of peanuts
(Photo/pxhere.com)

Was my 30-year-old son happy I phoned him? Of course not.

I called my 30-year-old son the other day. His first words were, “What’s the matter? What’s wrong now?”

Ouch!

Does he perceive that I am always the bearer of bad news? Worse yet, am I always the bearer of bad news? Worst of all, is there only bad news to bear?

Certainly, now that I’m older, it feels that way. This one died of cancer. That one has just been diagnosed with cancer. So-and-so had a heart attack.

Case in point: Just yesterday three people died in my extended circle. I wasn’t close with any of them, but still three people in one day! It gives you pause. In contrast, that very same day, my 30-something Pilates teacher mentioned that three of her friends were due to deliver babies.

Yet while the list and litany of loved ones and friends with ailments has grown in recent years, surely I’m not all darkness and despair. I still believe I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal. Still optimistic. Still looking forward to what life has to offer.

But do my conversations reflect that? After my son’s comment, maybe not. Certainly, there’s not much fun family or girlfriend gossip to report. Honestly, there’s not much family left to talk about! Long gone are the glory days of dishing the dirt on the relatives! Too many are gone to the Great Beyond! Oh, well. At least, there’s no more guilt about engaging in lashon hara!

I’ve got no relatives of marriageable age. So I cannot trash-talk about future brides, grooms or prospective in-laws. Nobody’s due to give birth. So there’s no opportunity for a happy chat about new babies.

My husband and I don’t squabble much. So there are no bad-mouthing moments there. And it’s not like old arthritic Aunt Sal is carrying on any wild affairs (or if she is, she’s not telling). All in all, the family is a bust for providing grist for the gossip mill.

And as for the dating ways of my girlfriends? Those days are kaput! They’re all happily wedded and bedded. No flings or divorces in the offing. So no gossipy updates there, either.

As for discussing world news and current events? Nope. That’s not our family phone thing. Sports? Decidedly a strikeout.

So what’s left for a mother and child to talk about on the phone? Nagging is an option. I admit I do my fair share of that, mostly along the lines of “When are you coming to visit?” and “Are you getting enough rest?”

In my hunt for sparkling banter, I found it in the most unexpected of places: my local burger joint!

Just the other day, I ran in to grab a takeout order. A burly, bald biker stepped in ahead of me. His appearance gave me pause. He was all tatted out, bedecked in a leather jacket despite the heat, and kind of surly looking.

Before stepping up to the register, he grabbed a paper bag and started scooping up something from a big bin. I gasped. Peanuts!

Apparently, I gasped out loud, because Mr. Tough Guy looked up and smiled.

“Oh, I didn’t know they have peanuts,” I gushed. “I just love fresh peanuts in the shell. Reminds me of baseball games in New York.”

He laughed and said, “Well, allow me.”

And with that, the big guy bowed slightly and stepped aside, handing me the scoop and bag he was using. I was practically dancing with joy as I filled the bag to the brim.

When I got home, hands still crumbly with peanut shell crumbs, I called my son ASAP. Ha! I thought. At last, I had good news to share. At last, I was the bearer of good news. Peanuts could be had at our favorite burger joint.

No doom. No gloom. Not a trace of lashon hara. A little nutty, but still …

But was my son happy I called? Of course not. I woke him from a nap.

Karen Galatz
Karen Galatz

Karen Galatz is the author of Muddling through Middle Age, a weekly humor blog. She is a former Berkeley resident who now lives in Reno and can be reached at [email protected].