You know the skit on SNL that Kristin Wiig does? The “just kidding” reporter? I think that’s hysterical. Not only do we all know someone like this, most of us are someone like this. Wouldn’t it be great if we could count on this one little phrase to get us out of all our awkward life moments? All the mistakes we made? All the mistakes we thought we made?
I picture all the thousands of middle schoolers who are learning to express their feelings for someone but still unsure of the reciprocity of it. They use the “have a friend tell her you like her” method. Then, if it doesn’t go well, have the friend say, “just kidding”, and the embarrassment is gone. There have been many embarrassing moments in my life that I would like to erase with a “just kidding”.
I remember asking someone to a dance one time (ok, maybe more than once) in high school and he said no — what I would have given for a “just kidding” at that moment. There was another time in high school (where most ill-fated ventures live), I borrowed (yes, I’m using this term very loosely) my sisters car to go to a college homecoming in a near-by town. Around 10:30 that night, my parents received a phone call from the sheriff to let them know I had been in a car wreck. I’m sure my mom waited for the guy on the other end of the phone to say, “Never mind! I was just kidding! Go back to sleep.” I hope to never get that phone call.
We see people in the news all the time. Apologizing for the bad decisions they have made. I would love to hear one of them say, “Just kidding, I didn’t mean to drive across the country in a diaper.” Or, “Just kidding, I didn’t mean to fall asleep while I was flying that airplane.” I really would be much more willing to forget about it if they had just used that simple phrase.
My parents had a huge “just kidding” moment in their lives. In our family we refer to it as the divorce that just didn’t work out. They had been married for twenty years when they decided to get divorced. I was in the fifth grade. I still remember them sitting all us kids down and explaining that we were no longer going to live together. The anguish on their faces as they told us — I can still see it. They were divorced for about fifteen years when we, the kids, started to realize that our parents acted a little different from other couples that had gotten divorced. We still all had Sunday dinner, together. We still all went to the same church, together. We still all traveled back to their hometown, together. We still all spent every holiday — together. My father had been renting a house about two blocks away from our family home — for fifteen years. Who rents a house for fifteen years? But, again, none of this seemed strange to us at the time.
After my husband and I had been married for about a year, I planned a beach trip. I wanted to take my grandmother to the beach — she lived with my mother after the death of my grandfather. My mom decided to go with us, as well as my brother and his wife. Then, my father decided he wanted to go with us as well. A family vacation — nothing about this seemed strange to me. I remember talking with my grandmother on this trip. She asked if I thought my parents were getting back together — the thought never entered my mind, until then.
Later that year, my grandmother had gone to visit her sister. My husband, my mother, and I drove to pick her up. In the car, my mother told me that she and daddy were going to get married — again. I couldn’t contain this news. As soon as I saw my grandmother, I told her (swearing her to secrecy of course as my mother wanted to be the one to tell her). She jumped about six inches off the ground — she was 82. They were remarried for about fifteen more years when my father passed away.
So, the divorce was a really big “just kidding” moment.
A simple phrase that can erase a bad decision, can erase an embarrassing moment, can erase incomprehensible news.
I’ve had those times in my life. When the news was too much to comprehend. When the outcome didn’t match my realm of thinking.
Your father has cancer… just kidding.
Your mother has cancer… just kidding.
There’s nothing more we can do… just… kidding.
I started this blog in hopes that people who read it would think I was funny and interesting and a little talented at telling a story. But, if you don’t… just kidding.