An uptight Hannibal

Uptight. See Ref 1 below.

More than 8 weeks after surgery I return from yet another inconvenient appointment at the surgeon. The anterior open bite is still there. One tooth touches another, but that's it; progress nil. As I leave his office, I tap him on the arm with my non-verbal question. “Oh! How many days?” he responds to my waggling digits, “probably 3 to 5 days, then you’ll be able to eat again. It’s o.k. to hate me for that long,” he smiles showing off his own immaculate set of gnashers. I attempt a snarl but think better of it. I calculate, as I nip through the exit door to the car; the most pretigious, experienced, specialist, maxillofacial surgeon on the planet has determined 3 – 5 days, so I double it and add 1.

As I stagger inside and reach for the wipe board, spouse and the children are all there to greet me.
“How did you get on?” I frown in return.
“How come you were so long?” I fumble for a dry erase pen.
“Are you in pain?” Small people bounce around in the frenzy before bed.
“What are you looking for?” I continue to scrabble until I have the means to communicate and write; '5 days of this or all is lost!'

What he actually said was that there was a small window of opportunity within which to make the teeth move, otherwise……he didn't finish his sentence, thankfully.

“Let's see then!” I part my lips to reveal enough elastic bands to source a small rubber plantation, “Blimey you look like Hannibal Lecter!” he gasps. Three small people peer and cover their mouths in unison. [rats to the theory of mind!]
“Shall I get you some pain killers?”
How exactly am I supposed to insert a tiny pill through this net I wonder?
“Dat is not nice!”
“It certainly isn't,” spouse concurs.
“No! You are not nice!”
“Me?” he queries.
“Yes, you are dah bad one to say mummy is 'horrible.'”
“Oh, I didn't say 'horrible' I said 'Hannibal.'”
“Hannibal is a nice word? It is dah opposite of 'horrible'?”
“Not exactly.”
“Wot den?”
“Well there was Hannibal the Barbarian, but I didn't mean him, not for your mother. This particular “Hannibal,” is the name of a man in a famous film.”
“Mummy is a man now?”
“No, she looks like the man in the film.”
“Wot man? Wot film it is.”
“Well, it's about this bad man who likes to….”
I clip him on the head with the wipe board. [translation = for several reasons, not that I ever agree with the principle of “corporal punishment.”]

Ref 1 select whichever you deem most appropriate
uptight, a. SECOND EDITION 1989
colloq. and slang (orig. U.S.).

[UP- 3.]
1. a. Of a person: in a state of nervous tension or anxiety; inhibited, worried, 'on edge'; angry, 'worked up' (about something). 
 Quot. 1934 is an isolated early example.
1934 J. M. CAIN Postman always rings Twice xvi. 190 I’m getting up tight now, and I’ve been thinking about Cora. Do you think she knows I didn’t do it? 1966 Sunday Times (Colour Suppl.) 13 Feb. 35/4 Up tight, tense. 1968 Mad LXXVII. 30 'Uptight' means, like, a bad scene. It’s when you’re hung up, or wigged out, or you can’t make it. We all get 'uptight' once in a while. 1969 C. YOUNG Todd Dossier 38 He looked worried. Really worried. As the kids say, he was up-tight. 1973 E. CALDWELL Annette (1974) VI. ii. 137 I’d guess you’d gotten so uptight from being denied motherhood that you were ready to leave home. 1975 D. LODGE Changing Places ii. 83 You’re feeling all cold and uptight and wishing you hadn’t come. 1977 M. EDELMAN Political Lang. v. 90 To the uptight policeman everyone is a potential offender. 1981 P. P. READ Villa Golitsyn II. iv. 112, I was afraid you might be a little uptight about that sort of thing.
b. fig. Characteristically formal in manner or style; correct, strait-laced.
1969 Manch. Guardian Weekly 28 Aug. 18 Who would have thought that an uptight institution like the august Oxford University Press would have done a thing like this? Here is a..spirited and spiritous piece of autobiography..served up as a book. 1970 E. M. BRECHER Sex Researchers ix. 253 They tended to swing in the same socially corrrect, formal, 'up-tight' style they followed in their other activities. 1976 Chatelaine (Montreal) Jan. 73/3 In the morning, the apartment looked curiously uptight to Meredith.
2. In approbation: that reaches the desired standard; excellent, fine.
1962 Down Beat Aug. 20/2 Jazz Gene Ammons Up Tight! 1966 [see OUT-OF-SIGHT adj. phr. (n.) 2]. 1969 Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 31 May 11/7 Disc jockeys..talk in a kind of sub-English..as in 'All right baby sock-it-to-me it’s allright uptight yeah.'
3. Short or out of money; 'broke'.
1967 Time 6 Jan. 18/3 'Up tight' can mean anxious, emotionally involved or broke. 1968 Esquire Apr. 160/3 The expression 'uptight', which meant being in financial straits, appeared on the soul scene in the general vicinity of 1953.
Hence uptightness.
1969 FABIAN & BYRNE Groupie vi. 46 The paranoia and savage uptightness which comes from three such guys living on top of each other and attempting to lead very together type lives while being stoned most of the time. 1974 A. LASKI Night Music 95 It hadn’t made him any looser..that rigid uptightness was still in him. 1976 New Yorker 8 Mar. 57/3 In [The Entertainer]..Archie contrasted the uptightness of the British who don’t make 'a fuss' with a fat black woman he once heard in America who sang 'her heart out to the whole world'.


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Progress

I determine to be productive after “jaw surgery” and set off into the garden to pull up weeds and remove dead leaves. As my knees bend and I hunker down I whiz through a decompression chamber such that my nose explodes with the shock of being 3 foot lower than usual. I drop the three soggy leaves that I'd selected and head back inside the house to clear up the blood from yet another spontaneous nosebleed.

It's like a conspiracy of sloth has overtaken me. I move rapidly along to plan B.
If I cannot be physically active then instead I'll just let my fingers do the walking and phone the gardening company to come and clear up the mess, damn the cost. I have just finished dialing when I remember that I cannot speak out loud, or at least not so that anyone can understand what I'm saying. Damn – it is a conspiracy.


I am so heartily sick of being ill and idle. I try and remember the things that I used to do before, before……..the children? When I wasn't working my hands were always occupied. I sat down more. Hobbies of the past, or pastimes such as knitting stopped with the last baby blanket. It would appear that every waking moment was filled with children's needs. Once those needs became more complicated, my time disappeared and reformulated itself into extracting words and teaching basic skills. The frantic pace with the mantra 'early intervention' ran through my brain at all times. Every second had to be used constructively. I was all over them like a rash, relentless and frenzied. We had started late, we had so much to catch up on. It was a relentless treadmill of our own making.

I also realize that whilst I didn't have surgery three years ago, two years ago or last year, this year, now, it has been possible, that although we still all have a great deal of growing to do, I can stop obsessing on the trees and admire the forest.[Thanks Kristina]


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Perseverating

Number one on the 'to do' list is still untouched ;
1. Find special needs nanny

I ignore number one and add 177, namely, visit library and pay fines. Soon I will have jaw surgery. This will finalise my transformation into a true American. It took the dentist 7 years to persuade me that this was a 'must,' not an optional extra. Three visits 'home' convinced me.
It's a genetic thing. Teeth that don't join anywhere. This means that you swallow your food whole.
This means that you get a lot of tummy aches.

People think that I am an exceptionally polite person, because I eat everything with a knife and fork. People do not see useless teeth that do not join, because I also have a genetic stiff upper lip.

I determine that whatever it is that I'm going to 'achieve' today, it will not involve use of the telephone. It is at that moment, that it rings,
“Hello?”
“Hi Maddy! How's the nanny search going?” says the Muse. Her cheery tone is not appreciated but as it is 9:05 a.m. she knows that I won't bark at her.
[translation = not a morning person]
“Er, well, it's top of the list!”
“You're procrastinating huh?”
The reason one has a 'muse' in one's life is to ensure that one keeps on the straight and narrow. Everyone needs a muse. Ideally they should be local, not just physically, but someone who you can call upon to translate foreign phenomena. Mine, my muse, fullfils the first requirement, but is worse than useless on the second. [translation = deviant American]

“So another year of not being able to eat sandwiches, French bread and corn on the cob?”
“It's no great loss, that's why they invented knives and forks.”
“So you've basically done nothing. What about those leads I gave you?”
“They're on the list too.”
“What number?”
“Er, 178 and 179.”
“Great! When is the surgery again?”
“23rd.”
“This month?”
“Yup.”
“So you basically have less that two weeks to find one.”
“In a nutshell.”

“So this is just an excuse so's you can cancel it again.”
“Rubbish, of course not! Merely 'postpone!'”
“At this rate they'll put you in your coffin still wearing those darned braces!”
“I'll make sure that they change the elastic bands when they embalm me.”
“Exactly how many times have you canceled the surgery over the last 3 years?”
“I forget.” She's a kindly soul and doesn't point out that we both know that I am lying.

I should have had a longer list of criteria for a muse. Now admittedly her psychobabble has been invaluable over the years, but I could do with someone a little more lax. Someone with a little less insight would be handy. Less persistence and attention would be a bonus. She is the sort of person that denies a body 'wriggle room.'

“Look! I know what you're afraid of.”
“ME! AFRAID! Have you gone quite mad? [translation = insane not angry] I'll have you know that I have a very high pain threshold.”

“Depends what kind of 'pain' you're talking about? I know it's not the surgery itself. ……..you know they'll be fine, just fine. I don't like to say it, but you're not indispensable. The kids'll be fine, the nanny will do great.”

Damn the woman. She's fired.

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