A penny for your thoughts."
The look on my 13-year-old's face left no doubt I had startled her out of deep contemplation. She was sitting in the corner of the sofa, her legs tucked under her, eyes straight ahead, perfectly still.
I envied her. I love those seconds of complete and utter zone out, when you pass daydreaming and your mind goes blank, as if only for a few seconds your brain has taken a little rest. Complete relaxation.
Until your mother bothers you.
"A penny for your thoughts," I said to my daughter again.
"Yea, uh huh," she stumbled. "Wait... What?"
"It's just an old saying," I told her, really not sure if it was old or actually a saying at all, just something I'd heard before.
"Just wondering what you were thinking about so hard," I explained and she shook her head and yawned. "Nothing," she said. "I don't even know." Yea, she'd been in one of those good, deep zone outs that feel almost like a nap. I was definitely jealous.
There are times I certainly wouldn't take a penny for my thoughts. Not that I'm prone to horrific, shocking thoughts that might question my right to walk among the sane and respectable. Sometimes I'm just not thinking what I should be at the moment.
Like the other day. I was in a meeting. Someone was talking, telling the group, I have no doubt, something incredibly important. My mind, however, was fixated on a bit of news I had read that morning about Wendy's fast food restaurant changing their French fries. I was thinking about how if I wrote a letter to the restaurant, would they reconsider changing their perfectly delicious French fries, which led me to think about how I could start a petition for people who didn't want Wendy's to change their French fries and then I thought, hey, maybe I should give them a chance, these new French fries. It wasn't fair for me to judge them before I'd even tried them.
Then the meeting was over, and I realized I had spent most of the time thinking about French fries and was practically oblivious of what the group had discussed. I hope I didn't volunteer to do anything.
The other day I was talking to someone and I saw a dog walk by. So naturally I started thinking about our dogs and wondered what they did at home during the day when we weren't there. Did they talk to each other or have bark conversations with the dogs across the street? I thought about how great it would be if I could teach them to clean the house while I was gone or at least do laundry. Could they iron? Probably not. An ironing dog is just silly.
Suddenly, the person I was talking to asked, "What do you think about that?"
"I think it's a great idea," I said, knowing full well I had no idea what they had said. Was that lying? I have no idea. They could have just asked me if I thought it was a great idea to set their eyebrows on fire, and I said yes. But I wasn't about to tell them I had been thinking about teaching my dog to fluff and fold.
Which, now that I'm thinking about it again, really is a great idea, if I do say so myself.
Don't you think?
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.