Some fifteen(ish) years later, I can’t help but hear the voice of my father screaming at me every time I use my turn signal, “SIGNAL YOUR INTENT, REBECCA” followed generally by some nonsense about “AND PUT ON A FUCKING PAIR OF PANTS, DAMMIT” because that’s the way my brain works: it remembers odd turns of phrase and holds them captive in some random corner of my mind that could be better used, oh, I don’t know, LEARNING HOW TO MAKE COFFEE?

But no.

Alas no.

Shamefully, no.

(stands up holding cup of lukewarm coffee in Styrofoam container and announces:)

My name is Becky, I’m 32 years old, and I can’t make coffee.

(Hi Becky!)

However, I CAN remind you (loudly) to SIGNAL YOUR INTENT to other drivers, which has always made me giggle: what if my intent was to flash them or whip donuts at old people? Is there a special signal for THAT because my turn signal doesn’t seem to do much beyond blink stupidly.

Nevertheless, I DO signal my intent every fucking time I turn, which means that somewhere along those years in which my father remains convinced I didn’t listen to him, I actually DID listen to him.

Goes to show you never can tell.

A couple of weeks ago, when the rains came and the river engorged, I checked the forecast on my i(can’t)Phone as I was dressing for work, figuring we were probably due for a tsunami or something. I learned that while we were NOT experiencing an earthquake, fire, tornado, random flinging of fish or *waves hand* some OTHER horrible disaster, we WERE under a flash-flood warning.

Which, no shit, Sherlock. The river looks as pregnant as half my Facebook feed.

I continued reading what the National Weather Center had to say about this particular warning, wondering if this here part of the Fox River was to be submerged that day. Turns out, not that day, but it did give me a particular bit of wisdom I can’t get out of my head for the life of me.

This message informed me that in the event that I should encounter a standing body of water on the road, rather than say, “Wow, my car needed washing anyway!” and truck on through, I should instead “Turn around. Don’t drown.”

I can’t tell you why this stuck with me long enough to tell my coworkers about it a couple of hours later (and, I should add, not having encountered any bodies of water on the ground or elsewhere), but it did. It’s not a particularly funny statement – the idea of drowning in a car is fucking freaky as fuck – and it’s not even a particularly useful statement.

I mean, SIGNAL YOUR INTENT can be applied to just about everything you do, ever…

Wanna go on a date? SIGNAL YOUR INTENT.

Want to eat? SIGNAL YOUR INTENT.

Want to lounge around in your underwear? CLOSE THE BLINDS, THUS SIGNALLING YOUR INTENT.

…but “Turn Around. Don’t Drown?” I can’t come up with a single other instance in which those words, in that order, would tumble from my mouth.

My coworkers seemed similarly befuddled by the sentiment and I vowed to cross-stitch it on something, well, if I cross-stitched anything ever, which I am pleased to say that I do not. We also told one another as we passed in the halls, “Turn around. Don’t drown,” for no particular reason whatsoever.

This morning, one of my coworkers frantically ran into my office, and, not noticing that I was in the midst of a particularly important conference call, practically screamed, “THEY’VE EXTENDED THE THUNDERSTORM WARNING UNTIL 12:15!”

I craned my neck to look outside, thought, “yup, sure is dark out there,” before shrugging at her and returning to my call. It’s April in Illinois. Thunderstorms are as omnipresent as deep dish pizza and a deep abiding hatred of Wisconsin.

Once I hung up the phone, I decided that I probably SHOULD see what sort of weather I was going to have to deal with some 9.5 hours later when I decided to leave Not Chicago. The Weather Thingy told me that St. Charles DID have… not 4. Not 5. But SIX entire warnings and not a DAMN one of them about the fish.

 (won’t someone think of the fish?!?!)

I clicked on each of the six blinking advisories to see what would ACTUALLY apply to me and, upon scrolling down through the “you’re probably gonna wanna get the balls outta there,” I noted something. Something major.

“Hey Ames,” I said to my coworker who happens to have the misfortune of sharing an office with me.

She put down her paperwork and looked at me, “Yeah?”

“THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE THINGY DOESN’T TELL ME TO DO WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO.”

She blinked at me.

“What do I do if I encounter still-standing water on the road? DOES THAT MEAN IT’S TIME TO WASH MY CAR AND/OR SHOW OFF MY MAD OFF-ROADING ABILITIES?”

She blinked again.

“Duh,” she said. “TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN.”

And just like that, I lost my ability to retain any new phone numbers so that TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN can forever live in my subconscious*.

That’s bullshit.

*And yours too!

Comments are love, or some bullshit like that. Either way, they make my heart happy. You should leave (or at least THINK about leaving) a comment and SUBSCRIBE to my RSS feed or I will send my Chicago "friends" after you, yo.

22 Responses to Wordplay

  • Ewokmama
    Twitter: ewokmama
    says:

    Are you kidding?!! That’s awesome! I’m going to use that to admonish my kid now. Instead of “pay attention” or “listen to me” or “get out of the fucking road!” – ‘TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!”

  • Maggie says:

    Hi, I’m Maggie, I’m 21 and I can’t make coffee either. And Aunt Becky? Turn around, don’t drown. That’s an order goddamit!
    xx

  • The Queen says:

    You said bullshit.. he he… and I added you to our old friends Royal Reads at the Kingdom. I’ve missed you. I’ll be stalking on a regular basis.. just so you’re warned.

  • Grace says:

    I have SO missed your humor!

  • nikkiana says:

    There’s something about the alliteration of “Turn around. Don’t drown.” that bothers me… I feel like “Don’t drown, turn around!” sounds better and pretty much covers the same point…. but maybe that’s just me.

    And now I signal my intent to go to the bathroom.

  • Roxie says:

    On my way in today, I had to turn around, don’t drown, just to get on to Route 56. After finishing the coffee I made for myslef, of course. :)

  • Emelie Samuelson
    Twitter: AwkwardlyAlive
    says:

    Well. Now this is going to stick with me forever. I guarantee that I will be shouting it at random moments that only make sense to me from now on.

  • Kathleen says:

    You reminded me of the old Mrs. Olson coffee commercials:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i77sVmORreI

  • Wordplay: Some fifteen(ish) years later, I can’t help but hear the voice of my father scr… http://t.co/jdqFYlKlXA via @MommyWantsVodka

  • Maria says:

    For some reason, I both envy and pity your new co-workers… Mostly envy though.

  • Alexis Anne
    Twitter: theangelalexistwitter.com
    says:

    I shouldn’t be so contrary. It’s one of obnoxious features, in addition to interrupting too often and sticking Q-tips further into my ears than either the manufacturere 9Johnson & Johnson, if I remember correctly, although it’s become such a generic term that people call their cotton swabs “Q-tips” whether they’re made by johnson & Johnson; I happen to like the kind with the pretty blue plastic stick between the cotton swabs, which are not manufactured by J & J. I have to purchase my own now because my mother refuses to be a party to my puncturing my eardrums with q-tips, which is NOT going to happen. I’m a fucking pre-med student; I know how to clean my damned ears ears.

    Anyway, if you’re running from a flash flood, the last thing in the world you want to do is to turn around. Doing so will increase your chances of drowning exponentially.

  • I wrote ‘n’ stuff ‘n’ things: http://t.co/hGvbPfHHDL

  • Tamara says:

    Oh, Aunt Becky… You crack my shit up! Also… you just won an award on my website. Peace out.

  • RT @mommywantsvodka: I wrote ‘n’ stuff ‘n’ things: http://t.co/hGvbPfHHDL

  • Momchalant says:

    I didn’t know how to make coffee until I had a baby. Even then, I had no idea. I had to call my mom over to come make it for me (and show me). She had to make three trips to my house before I finally got it.

  • Pete In Az says:

    Hey…

    I’m old… Go ahead… Whip a doughnut at me…

    I DARE ya…

  • Michelle says:

    O. M.G. I think our fathers were long lost brothers. While my father never said, “signal your intent”, he was always telling me to “trust my mirrors”. That I never need crane my neck around and see where I’m going to just Trust My Mirrors. I loved reading this, if only because there was a daughter out there somewhere whose father was spewing odd instructions as we learned how to drive. Love, love, love it!!!!

  • The Mommy says:

    So, in almost related news, I thought of a GREAT idea. Like, if someone with creativity and a degree in electrical engineering reads this they could maybe take it on Shark Tank or something. I think there should be a little LED sign in your car window that blinks what you shout at other cars! They use voice recognition in our phones so this shouldn’t be a stretch. Course, they might wanna have it censor some things. I use a lot of #@!* words when I’m driving…And my 3-year-old daughter is always yelling, “Hang up the phone and DRIVE!” Which she may or may not have shouted at the nun from our kids’ school. Ahem. Sister wasn’t even ON the phone!

    PS If someone reads this who DOES take it on Shark Tank I’m totally calling my Aunt Becky to be my witness that I thought of it FIRST!

  • I live in Boston. I don’t even have a car right now? But, dude? I would fucking buy one if i could have that LED thing.

    I don’t know if it’s still like this because it has been a lot of years since I’ve seen a Massachusetts driving manual, but fifteen years ago it was about as useless as learning to drive by reading the back of a cereal box. Questions were like “What do you need to do in order to get a motorcycle license?” Huh? If I ever want a motorcycle, I will look it up.

    However, MISSING from the instructions were, oh, for example, how to make a left turn? I swear to God, man? Half the drivers here have NO IDEA what to do with the signal. If Boston drivers use a signal at all, this is the order of events:

    1. Hit the brakes, hard
    2. Return the flipped middle finger to the driver behind you who has Dunkin Donuts coffee currently boiling his junk because he wasn’t ready to stop, hard
    3. Put on your signal
    4. Turn

    I wish I were kidding.

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