"This is none of my business," I said aloud to myself in a valiant, noble effort to mind my own business.
But has that ever stopped me? Nope.
"I am not getting into the middle of this mess," I continued.
Do I ever listen to myself in these moments of reprimand? Nope.
"People actually buy books and newspapers for your advice," I said to myself. "Surely there’s benefit in what you have to say, for the opinion you have to offer."
Should that make any difference in whether I speak my mind for free? Whether I offer advice which I regard as sterling and sage? Nope.
I picked up the phone and called a friend. I explained my dilemma. A friend, not even a close one, was making a terrible mistake, his brain had apparently gone missing. It was clear he wasn’t thinking clearly and if I didn’t swoop in to save him, then who would? She listened silently. There were no grunts of support. I got the message. I think.
"This is none of my business, is it?" I asked as if I needed to ask.
"Nope," she replied, falsely believing that one word could deter me. Perhaps she’s optimistic that a time will come when I will bite my tongue and stay out of things that do not pertain to me.
"OK," I said. "I’ll talk to you later." I clicked the disconnect button on the cordless phone and replaced it on the charging cradle.
I sat down on the sofa, picked up a book and tried to turn my thoughts to fictional places and events. But my mind would not be turned. I have too much of Mama in me. And, like her, as I grow older, my tongue grows looser.
Once we ran into a young woman we knew outside in a grocery store parking lot. Mama started to chat her up, hugging her and making over her something fierce.
"Have you got married yet?" she asked, grabbing the girl’s left hand and checking her finger. Sweetly, Mama rubbed her bare ring finger and smiled. "No ring yet."
The girl blushed. "No, but me and my boyfriend are livin’ together and we’re gonna get married one day."
"Uh-oh," I said to myself, turning my head away with a slight grimace. "This is not gonna be pretty."
I shifted my weight from one foot to another and waited for the bomb to explode. The sweet smile faded from Mama’s face, her jaw set and her eyes narrowed in a real serious way.
"Oh honey, don’t tell me you’re livin’ in sin," she began in a heavy tone as the girl’s face paled and she swallowed hard.
Before she could say a word, Mama continued. "Now, let me tell ya somethin’ and you listen real careful to me. You have done gone and upset the apple cart. Ain’t no boy gonna marry you after you’ve already up and moved in with him."
I tugged at her sleeve. "Mama, c’mon. We gotta go."
But, nope, there was no stopping her. She was on a roll. "You have gone and done the wrong thing. You don’t buy the cow when you’re gettin’ the milk free."
The girl’s face burned bright red. She was a frail, little thing without a lot of education or worldly wisdom. She was no match for Mama.
I tugged harder on her sleeve. "Mama," I said firmly, my anger rising. "This is none of your business."
The girl drew back her shoulders, trying to be bold. "Well, I think he will."
"Well, he won’t." Mama tossed her crooked forefinger in her direction. "Mark my words."
That’s what Mama always said when she was finished with her predictions.
I thought back to a couple of those conversations. Did it stop me from placing that call that was none of my business?