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The Slice: In short, just wanted to say sorry, and thanks

Sun., March 2, 2014

Ever try to deliver a compliment and have it go hideously off the rails?

You know. You’re talking and talking and start to suspect that maybe you should shut up … but, instead, you KEEP TALKING.

No need for a show of hands. We blabbermouths know who we are.

There are these two retired nuns who live at the Spokane assisted living facility where my mother resided until she moved recently. They have always been kind to her. But that’s not the only reason my wife and I adore them.

Both have a way of being gentle and comforting but at the same time utterly realistic about the challenges of aging. They are smart and sensitive. It has been a pleasure to know them. I consider them friends.

So when I saw the two of them last week during the last stages of my mom’s move, I wanted to express that.

I decided to tell them about something my wife and I discussed at home a few nights before.

In the course of praising the nuns in question, I had said that if we ever had a school kid who got disciplined by either of them, we would have been be on the sister’s side.

“Well, you must have deserved it.”

Case closed. (Except for insisting that the kid apologize the next day.)

So while telling these two bright-eyed elderly women about this, a light started going off in the back of my mind. It said “For God’s sake, pipe down! You are engaging in ludicrously dated stereotyping.”

I ignored it, and kept talking.

Of course, the insane thing is I’m pretty sure neither of them spent much, if any, of their careers in school settings. I don’t think they would have had a chance to wield a punitive ruler even if they had been so inclined.

But I’m quite certain this point was lost in my incoherent rambling.

What I meant to say was “Thank you.”

Today’s Slice question: After a social gathering or encounter, how does your spouse or significant other communicate to you that it would have been much, much better if you had shut up way, way sooner?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email When Marilyn Summers’ oldest daughter was a toddler, she referred to an ambulance as “army lumps.”

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