Pressing 'send'

I busied myself organizing 40 years of musings and poetry, entering them into my computer.

israeli light image88 (photo credit: )
israeli light image88
(photo credit: )
I busied myself organizing 40 years of musings and poetry, entering them into my computer. For years I carried them around in a box, "works" written on the backs of paper bags, napkins and notebook paper. I was just inputting a 20-year-old poem when the oven's timer reminded me that the duck had to be basted, and all that was left was to set the table and call the family for a holiday meal. "Mom, can I use your computer?" It was one of my 20-somethings. "Sure," I said, "just save what's in there and don't -" "- download anything," she called back to me. She knows me well. I was setting out the china when she came back in, mouth agape, no sound coming out, just her sucking in what looked like a silent scream. I rushed to her. "Baby!" I screamed, "What's wrong?" I thought she had swallowed something, so I pounded her back. They love it when I overreact. "That's not about daddy," she howled. I abandoned the Heimlich maneuver mode, realizing she had read "the" poem, the one about my only high-school sweetheart. We were going to run away, two 15-year-olds. Thirty years later at a high-school reunion, he explained how he managed to be the only person to stand me up for anything. Ah well. It had moved me, made me laugh and cry and run the gamut of emotions as one of life's mysteries was finally solved. I later memorialized it in the poem. I tried to comfort her. "But didn't I call daddy 'the one who showed up'? Didn't I say nice things about daddy?" She wasn't pleased. She brought the discussion to the table. We got through the prayers while she sniveled and sniffed, until finally Ari asked her what was wrong. She tactfully answered with a "pass the potatoes" remark, but the tension at the table was palpable. When she did speak, it was lines from my poem. I left the table and went to my office. My girlfriend had sent an e-mail, so I sat down to answer it. I went on and on about the slight, how my daughter should understand, how one day she might write a similar poem about her first love, even though she marries the finest of men. I wish I had stopped there. Instead I started to complain. I mean in capital letters. But it was my friend, and she often told me her troubles. Now it was time for her to listen to me. The letter was probably three pages long. That's a lot of complaining. And when I thought I had covered everything, I added more. "What I should do is put on my red dress," I said, "and head down to the lamp post." I should explain that I don't own a red dress, but that's beside the point. Satisfied and fully ventilated, calmed now, story told, I pressed "send" and went in to do the dishes. I guess the girls knew I might be upset with them. The kitchen was clean and the lights turned out. The dining room was back in order. I shrugged and went back to my computer. Settled in, I picked out a case that I had to finish and went back to work. About 30 minutes after I had pressed "send," I saw e-mails coming in fast and furious. See, I belong to a lot of on-line forums, the court reporters forum, the scopist forum, the Irish Writers Association forum, and my two favorites, IJQ, International Jewish Quilters, and the Quiltin' Grannies from the American South. The subject lines would say "poor you," "praying for you," "I'm so sorry," typical things I see every night as I sit working. I usually never open one that I don't recognize, just keep on working. But then I saw one, "Praying for you, Carm." I almost fainted. See, every day on one or another of the forums, someone has a problem and gives support. I do it myself, whatever kind words of encouragement I can think of that may help. The Jewish quilters offer to daven as often as the grannies from the South offer to pray. For whatever. When I saw the pop-up of my name, I realized immediately what happened. Just then a letter came from Karen in Frisco. I opened it immediately. The one-liner said it all. "Carm, you should have used my private e-mail, not the forum..." I lost my dinner. Then I opened my send box to see what I had done. Don't try this at home, gals. I had made a send-all box for when I had something that should be sent to everyone. I do fund-raisers, see. Heh-heh. Yup. Everyone found out that I wasn't a nice little quiltin' granny. I spent all night - yes, all night - tracking down the moderators of six forums, who, sympathetic though quite amused, agreed to remove the aberrant e-mail from the server so that it couldn't be forever emblazoned on Google. Aaaaaagghh. But it did have its really funny side. Most people probably never saw it. The court reporters and scopists are too busy to notice, although there were a few responses like, "What's with you tonight, Carm?" and a sincere "Call if you need to talk, you're not yourself tonight." The Irish Writers wrote wondering what I was drinkin', as they wanted some themselves, but the little grannies from the South were the ones with the heartfelt letters. "Don't do it, Carm." "Don't put on a red dress. It only complicates things." I myself was mortified. But the best of all was from one of the Jewish Quilters, known more for their art than their piety. "Carm, put on that red dress and head for that light, and write us with the details in the morning."