If I could undo it now I would. I’d rewind the tape and have the words run backwards into my voicebox, that treacherous little container that does not contain.
I was in the bloodbank, proudly donating my B Positive platelets. She was the nurse overseeing the donation. Her name was just a set of cyphers, same as yours, same as mine, meant to signify who she was, but just because of a quirk of chance the letters also spelled something else. Awkwardly for her, the name badge that she wore read Nurse Death.
It was all unremarkable at the time. I said blah blah blah. She assumed the look she’d doubtless assumed a hundred thousand times before and explained that ‘it’s pronounced Deeth’, but the damage was done. Again. This time by me. And in the years since then I’ve often wished that I could have been the one stranger in her day who did not feel compelled to comment on those five letters. Not that I said anything nasty, or excessively idiotic. Just middle-of-the-road idiotic, like ‘You must get a lot of stupid comments.’ Cause I’m not, you know, crass or anything.
Why couldn’t I have surprised the hell out of her by not saying any words, not raising any eyebrows, not making any big deal about it? Why not? Because I’m only slowly learning this being-a-human-among-other-humans game, one day at a time.
My niece posted something on Facebook yesterday, about a group called Every year, I realize how stupid I was the year before. It gave me an instant chuckle because of the twisted little truth in it. It’s saying I’m not smarter this year, I’m only more aware of my previous stupidity levels. Still though, I hope that if, in the future, I meet any Professor Ships or Major Killers or Doctor Murders or anyone else with a randomly unfortunate name, I will gently startle them by not reacting.
Because when you’ve got an odd name, or an unusual birth mark, or you sit all the time in a chair that has wheels, or you have a slightly different genetic put-together, sometimes all you want from people is absolutely nothing at all.