Okay, that’s not totally true. Deeply as my father impressed upon me his favorite phrase—“A word once spoken cannot be recalled”—and as often as I actually do think before I speak, I find myself muttering, with astonishing regularity, “I can’t believe I said that.”
I was having an interview. Having one, not doing one—a peculiar change of pace. It was more of an informational interview than a “you may quote me” interview (at least, I hope it was—she didn’t take very many notes, so any of my quotes are likely to be inaccurate) conducted by a history major for a paper she has to write. I admit, it’s a little intoxicating (just a little) to sit down with someone whose sole purpose is to listen to what I have to say. (But since so many of her follow-up questions seemed slightly non sequitur, I think I’d rather share the limelight in a regular conversation, thank you very much.) It was also depressing to be able to give her so few of the answers she was seeking.
But I am nothing if not thorough. So when I agree to do an interview, I really throw myself into it. Which, I’m positive, is how I ended up telling this student a very entertaining story about the time the historical society decided to nab some younger members.
The board appointed a committee of some of the younger members. I was on it, a girl my age was on it, a woman about 12 years older than us was on it, and a 60-year-old woman was on it. A 60-year-old woman who was very, very sure that by “younger members,” we meant people from her graduating class. And the best way to hook those people would be to make 500 photocopies of her high school yearbook picture to mail to the graduating class and assorted others of her acquaintance. (It’s a funnier story if I can demonstrate her exceedingly odd hairstyle with hand gestures. You’ll just have to take my word for it.)
So intent was I on sharing this story—since the student had already indicated that she found this woman’s hair amusing too—that I actually said it. A phrase I have mocked times beyond counting (in this blog, among other places).
“Don’t put this in there,” I said, “but…”
I of course immediately interrupted myself to say, “I can’t believe I just said that.”
And here I am, still not quite believing it. And still not quite decided whether this means I’ll have to reduce my mockage of interview subjects who say it to me, now that I’ve joined their ranks. (I'm leaning toward no mockage reduction--but that does seem a bit unfair.)