“You’ve got a sharp tongue on you, Missy,” cautions my mother, when somewhat alarmed at something I’ve written. She has a sharp tongue, too – but always keeps hers in careful check.
I do admire tact and grace and discretion and diplomacy. I’d love to be refined and courteous and gentle. And I can fake all those things well enough to fool everyone (with the notable exception of my mother). These days, though, the effort is just too damned much. Sharp-Tongued Missy needs to have her say.
Missy was also the name of our family dog. Years ago, my father grudging allowed that Youngest Brother ought to have one, since the rest of us were grown and gone and he was (quite happily) deprived of many sibling joys. “But I don’t want a barker or a yapper or a hyperactive long-hair-shedder,” said Father.
Mother and Youngest Brother subsequently came home from the shelter with Missy, whose boundless joy at being rescued kept her forever barking and yapping and casting tumbleweeds of long white hair about.
So perhaps my mother is right to call me Missy – my boundless joy at finding myself alive and alert in this silly world keeps me barking and yapping and casting tumblewords about.
PS: Missy earned her keep forever by holding my hometown’s Jehovah’s Witnesses at eternal bay. My parents live out in the country, where missionaries of all sorts flock to find sheep.
One Sunday morning, Mother and Youngest Brother were “operating” on Missy outside the garage. She was a short little dog with long curly hair; personal hygiene was not her strong suit. Periodically, they had to scrub and trim her nether regions. Youngest Brother would wrestle her down, point his head away, and point her rear end up and out. Mother, in yellow Playtex rubber gloves, would wield a wet soapy sponge in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other.
It was in this position that the Witnesses found them when they pulled piously into the driveway and approached the house on that memorable day, pamphlets in hand. They blanched and broke ranks and left without leaving even one — never went back.