OPINION: Out of the mouths of babes and seniors

John Hewitt's Opinion Piece for Champion Newspaper

For many years, my wife and I have joked about an incident that occurred a year or so after we married. My wife had gained a few pounds since our wedding.

We were visiting my family for Easter, if memory serves me correctly, when a young niece with a syrupy-slow southern accent approached my wife, patted her belly and innocently asked “What’s in they-ah?” And no, my wife was not pregnant.

I’m not sure who was more embarrassed by the situation—my wife, or my sister—whose daughter had posed the question.

The tables have now turned and I’m the one getting the weight comments.

Over this year’s Easter weekend, I visited my aunt J-Net and uncle Don whom I love dearly, as they are the only family members of my mother’s generation who are still living and have become like parents to me.

My aunt has never been one to hesitate about speaking what is on her mind and I have never been one to be easily shocked or offended but she shocked me with her comment.

When I entered their home, my aunt and I embraced and told each other how good it was to see one another. She then put the palms of both of her hands on my cheeks and said “Baby, you look so handsome.” I’m beaming with pride right about now. At a worn and tattered 60 years of age, it is rare that I am told by anyone that I look handsome.

My aunt then backed up a bit and gave me a good once-over, head-to-toe, visual assessment and added “But, you’re getting fat!” She then proceeded to give me a beautiful antique tin container filled with chocolates.

I know my aunt meant absolutely no harm by her comment, but I admit it has bothered me a bit. She was spot-on with her assessment and it was just what I needed to motivate me to curtail my caloric intake and be a bit more active.

Sometimes our mental filters don’t block thoughts that are best internalized and not shared with the public. I think the older we get, the less our filters work.

My first recollection of an unfiltered comment by me was a few years back while standing in a long line to pick up a prescription.

I was already miserable and suffering the effects of a nasty cold or sinus infection and did not want to stand in line any longer than necessary.

There was an end-cap display in the store that caught my attention and I momentarily stepped a few feet from the queue line to get a closer look at whatever the product was—and I now have no idea what the item was that piqued my interest.

I turned to see that a young man who appeared to be in his late teens or early 20s had taken my place in line. Without hesitation, I placed my hand firmly on the back of his shoulder and said “Oh, hell no. You will not cut in front of me.”

The guy turned around as if in shock, began to apologize profusely and motioned for me to assume my original position. I angrily took my spot and fumed for a minute or two before offering him my sincere apology and attempting to explain the concept of mental filtering to him.

We both had a chuckle and hopefully both learned a lesson in public behavior. I learned that I am quickly becoming a crotchety old man.

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