There is a little something I’d like to address that’s been bugging me for quite some time — practically all of my life, if I really think about it. And it’s time I said something.
It is a little thing called “not it” — two words that can reap dire consequence or extreme relief if spoken, or not spoken, in a timely matter. Two words that, at least in my house, are pretty much set in stone.
I have been “not itted” since childhood, one of my first recollections of it being at our mother’s mention of washing the dishes. We had no dishwasher of the electric kind when I was very small. Why buy a dishwasher when you have six children? (That rationale also applied to an electric ice cream maker. To this day, I am convinced I suffer from extreme crank arm, but no one will listen to me.)
In the early years, I got out of washing dishes for the simple reason I was too short to reach the sink. My sisters and older brother tried to argue I could stand in a chair, but I guess mama was worried I would fall off. The day came soon enough, though, when I was tall enough to dunk the soapy dishcloth in the water and clean the supper plates. If you were lucky there was someone next to you to dry. If not, you had to stack them by the sink and pray nothing slipped off the counter. I hated washing dishes, but more times than not, I had to.
I wasn’t quick enough.
No sooner than the words came out of mama’s mouth — “Who’s going to wash the dishes?” — a choir of “not its” sprang forth from my siblings’ lips. I wasn’t quick enough. Many times mama would overrule and make someone else take a turn, but I still vowed that one day ... one day ... I would win the “not it” battle.
I’m still waiting.
Just this week, I came home from work to find that the dog had an unfortunate incident in a high-traffic area. Right there. In plain sight. I called out to our teenage son.
“Oh, no!” I said. “The dog must be sick,” to which he quickly replied, “Not it!” A little too quickly, I thought. Had he, in fact, already seen the spot I was referring to and chose to pretend like he had not, ready to swoop in with the “not it” when someone did notice it? I had no real proof, unlike his father, who on more than one occasion in the past has miraculously managed to walk through a room and walk back through a room several times, right over an unfortunate dog spot on the floor, and claim he never saw it. Curious how he managed to walk right by it and not step in it. Very curious.
Respecting the sanctity of the “not it,” I cleaned it up. But I would get him next time.
I have been “not itted” about feeding the dogs, taking out the trash, having to run to the grocery store for milk, cleaning the toilet, answering the telephone ... you name it. But by far the worst was when I was making dinner and asked, “Who wants to taste the casserole?”
I think even the dog said, “Not it!”
I have decided that I am done with “not it.” I will no longer accept it as an answer ... no longer let someone off the hook from picking that strange thing out of the dog’s ear ... no longer load the dishwasher or fold clothes simply because I was too slow to get those two little words out first, or second or third even ...
Fellow slow “not itters,” unite. Let us henceforth declare that we can overrule “not it” any time we darn well please. And I will tell my family just that when I get home ... unless someone else wants to tell them for me ... really ... who wants to tell them? Anyone?
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.