Almost mid-morning and we had a long haul ahead of us. After visiting son Bob in Chicago, daughter-in-law Gail, Great-grand Maddie and I were headed back home to our sunny southland. We hadn’t been on the road too long before my cellphone, Pottymouth Peggy, had dinged and I’d been given a reminder that it was grandson Mark’s birthday. Dutifully I’d sent the young man a “Happy Birthday” message.
For some reason Mark had responded, not with a “Thanks,” answer, but with the letters, LOL.
After a quickie breakfast at McDonald’s, Gail had pulled over to fill up with gas. Still downing a little more of a coffee I’d brought with me I handed Maddie the phone.
“I’m not sure why Mark laughed when he read my message,” I said. “But maybe you can figure it out.”
“It’s okay, Grand Lottie. There’s a little bit more to what you said. We didn’t quite finish it,” Maddie answered. “Maybe it’ll tell us why he was laughing. All you did was wish him a ‘Happy Birthday’.”
Gail hung up the pump and was back in the car as Maddie began reading the rest of my message.
“Sorry we won't be with you, but ‘Happy’---”
A deer in the headlights look on her face, the young lady shook her head. “Gee Gee. I can’t say this out loud. Grand Lottie wrote a word I won't say.”
Gail buckled into the seatbelt then took the phone from Maddie.
She paused so long I finally said,
“‘Happy Bitxday’. From your Grand Lottie…" her voice trailed off. She looked at me, then ducked her head. “She wrote a bad word.”
“No, your Grand Lottie spelled the word wrong,” Gail laughed. “She didn’t mean to, but she spelled birthday wrong. She punched a c in the wrong place and left out an r.”
We fell into an uncomfortable silence. “Humph,” I snorted. “Miss Sore Ears, the one who hides in the phone---you all call her Siri is probably who messed it up. She monkey’s with me a lot. Hand me the phone. I’ll straighten her out.”
“Before you hit send, let me add my 'Happy Birthday' message to yours,” Gail said.
Pottymouth Peggy in hand, I typed a note to Mark, then gave a fake laugh. “Now, that’ll take care of that.”
Gail reached for the phone. Her finger raised to punch, she glanced down. The expression on her face changed; she cocked an eyebrow and gave a slight headshake. “You might wanta rewrite your last line.”
What in the Tom Thunder’s going on? I wondered. Cupping my ear I leaned forward to make sure I’d hear what Gail said.
“Read it!” Her mouth creased into a small grin, she raised her hand in a mock salute.
A little too much caffeine in my system and jumpy as a flea looking for a dog, I wiped a blob of spilled coffee from my blouse and picked up Pottymouth.
“‘I guess dignity's just not in our jeans’,” I read.
Keep breathing, I said to myself.
Genes, I retyped.
“I'm here to tell you. Whatever bad or misspelled words that are written on this cellphone, Siri/Sore Ears did it. Not me. She does this to me a lot.” Although my voice sounded steady, it wasn’t quite the way I felt.
Heat from the sun coming through the car window was warm against my face. “I know how to spell and right now I’m going to do a little horntooting.” I pushed a sprig of damp hair back, a thin roll of sweat trickled down my neck. “I’m more than a little proud of myself about a few things.
“I lost the certificate but I want you all to know and to be impressed. I won the sixth grade Spelling Contest at Duling Elementary School.”
The three of us looked at one another across a gulf of silence. “And when it comes to bad words, I went to Fondren Presbyterian Church every Sunday.”
I crammed Pottymouth into my back pocket.
“We sang ‘Onward Christian Soldiers' a lot and were taught never to say cuss words. The next year, after I left Duling, I was running for cheerleader at Bailey Junior High School. My opponents name was Dixie Jo Decelle.” I took a deep breath. “And one time, in front of some of our friends I did a cartwheel then chanted, ‘Dixie Jo Decelle can go to h---'
“And someone tattled on me.
“‘Heck is where people go who don’t believe in heaven’, my Sunday School teacher told our class the next week. My name was put on the prayer list. And not just at Fondren Presbyterian.” I felt a blush, my cheeks were starting to burn. “But even across the street at the Baptist Church.
“So I know it’s not good to think or say bad words.”
There was a moment of silence in the car.
Gail raised one eyebrow, gave me a small, tight smile and lifted her arms in the air in an 'I give up' gesture.
“I surrender all,” she said, turning around and starting the engine.