Enjoy this blog from my pal Lori Rypka… mom to Katie (6) and Michael (2). Lori also writes a bi-weekly column for the Frederick News Post (Sunday section).  Lori has also launched a new venture called “Wrap Me In Love.”  Find out more here.Lori Rypka

Say what?

I’d venture a bet that we’ve all been in situations when we are stopped in our tracks by something someone says. “Say what??” I’m pretty sure I wear a magnet for bizarro comments.

People with kids get this all the time from their little ones. Small mix ups in facts or use of the language can make for some funny comments.
“Mama, did you know that Abraham Lincoln lived until he was 100 years old and had a baby when he was 99??” My daughter hit me with this coming out of Bible school recently. “Abraham Lincoln, really?” “Yes, Mama.  Abraham Lincoln.” I asked her if she learned that in class that day. Of course she did. I asked her if she knew that there was a man named Abraham in the Bible who was not Abraham Lincoln, and he had the same story. Then had to explain when in history these men lived. I hated to burst her bubble because she was so fascinated by the, but I’m all for getting the facts straight.

When I was a reporter, I’d hear all of the good scoop. You see, that’s the benefit of covering small town politics. People think that if they have a dispute with a neighbor and they call the newsroom, we will write a story about this degenerate and embarrass him. “And if you don’t write a story about it, I’m going to write a letter to the editor about you!”
Half the time I wanted to say, “Go ahead. That will save me from telling her about this ridiculous request.”

I think, however, that my all-time favorite “Say what?” comment came about 14 years ago when I met an old college friend for coffee at a downtown coffee shop. We were catching up, having lively conversation, and discussing her upcoming wedding. We noticed that an older gentleman – the only other person in the shop at the time – was staring at us.  It didn’t totally creep us out – after all, we were armed with hot coffee.

So after about an hour of chatting, the man pulled up a chair and asked if he could join us. Being a couple of polite chicks, we welcomed him to our table. He wasn’t the cleanest looking individual, and we suspected he either lived on the streets or in a shelter of some kind.

He asked what we were talking about, and we told him about her wedding. He proceeded to ask questions, and my friend gave him the details. In the course of conversation, she mentioned her husband-to-be is in Ohio and she lived in Maryland. That simple fact made the man stop, and with a quizzical look – or, shall I say, a “say what?” look – he probed further. “What do you mean he is in Ohio and you are in Maryland?” We didn’t think it was that uncommon. And then he went … there. Cleaning up what he said, he wondered how they had ‘relations’ when they lived so far away.

Then my friend had that “say what?” look. Shocked that he went … there … she very proudly told him that they were saving themselves for marriage. (Yes, I know at this point many of you have that “say what?” look – this is totally common with people from my college). He shot back with another “say what?” look. It was like tennis match action with the looks for me. I tried not to get involved and enjoyed the ride.

This conversation went on for at least another 30 minutes. I don’t remember how the subject changed, but then the attention turned to me.  He asked what I did for a living, and I mentioned I was an editor for the newspaper. “Say what? Good, I need to talk to you.” Here it comes, I thought, another complainer. “Since you are a writer, I want someone to write my story. Like an autobiography.”

“Say what?”, I thought. “Don’t worry, I’ll give you a call at the newspaper and set up a time to talk to you.” After slight panic, I was comforted in knowing I never gave my name. I can only imagine what that conversation would turn into. Don’t get me wrong. I believe every life has a story to tell. Just the idea of writing a book for a stranger who was willing to go … there … with other strangers was a bit off-putting to me.

My friend and I very politely cut the conversation short so that we can continue having one-on-one conversation. We ultimately had to leave that location and move to another, but couldn’t stop talking about that gentleman. We still joke about it today.

Anymore, I’m not terribly shocked by what people say. If nothing else, it makes for a great story to tell.