“Grandmother!” Aiden’s muffled voice came to me from the back seat of my car. I looked at my grandson through my rear view mirror. He had his hand clasped tightly over his mouth.
“What’s the matter? I asked him.
“You are going to get a canker sore,” he warned, his voice still muffled by his hand, his eyes widened in alarm.
“What are you talking about?” My eyes went from him to the road and back again.
“The guy that lives in that house back there shoots out canker sores at people. You didn’t cover your mouth, so you are going to get one,” he was as serious as the plague.
“Why?” I wanted to know why that guy did that, even though I knew that guy doesn’t do that.
Aiden explained, “He’s been mad ever since his father died.”
I instantly felt sorry for the canker sore shooting guy. “Oh,” I said, “that is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard! How old is this person?” I imagined a kid bereft of a father and because he lacked paternal guidance, never learned that it is inappropriate to shoot anything at people, least of all mouth sores.
“He’s very, very old,” Aiden prepared me to accept the antiquity of this poor soul, “He’s about forty.”
“How do you know all this, Aiden?”
Aiden stated simply, “I heard.”
Now Aiden has told me many things in his short lifetime that I suspect are not true. There was the time he used his Peter Pan knife to battle three Ninjas and the time he caught a mountain lion, put it in his basement and fed it chickens. Another time he climbed to the top of Katahdin while his mother took a nap. Just a few weeks ago I was working in the garden when he came barreling around the side of the house, his body nearly parallel with the ground and yelled, “Grandmother, you just have to believe me! You just have to! I know I lie a lot, but this time it’s true—I saw a bear!”
As he pleaded with me to believe him, I started to tell him a story: of the boy who cried wolf.
“I already know that story, Grandmother,” he promised.
“You do? Who told it to you?” I questioned.
“Mom and Dad and my teacher and Aunt Em and Gram and Uncle John and Mammy and Pappy…”
I started to tell Aiden that even the sternest Granny stare could not inflict canker sores, but stopped as I realized perhaps there could be some truth to this newest tale.
Unhappy people certainly want others to be miserable along with them, that much is true. It’s also true that being around a grouch is stressful and stress is a known cause of canker sores. Knowing this, it is entirely possible that an angry man sitting on his porch with a frown and furrowed forehead, a man so wretched that shooting canker sores is his favorite pastime and call to fame, this unfortunate man has to cause stress to those who come in contact with him. Also, given that hanging around miserable people eventually makes one miserable too, as do canker sores, I say it is perfectly feasible to get a canker sore from someone who spews misery.
Aiden and I deem it true: on a back road, somewhere in northern Maine, there is a guy who, being so sour has the ability to shoot canker sores at unsuspecting passers by who have the audacity to be happily enjoying their lives, but the misfortune of traveling past his house with their lips showing.
So, take Aiden’s advice: if you happen to come across a cross person and you can’t get away, at least cover your lips.
L.E. Hughes is a columnist, author and owner of Diamond Corner B&B in Stratton, Maine. She welcomes your thoughts and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© September 2006, Lew-Ellyn Hughes. All Rights Reserved and Retained by the Author