Have you ever had a word just strike you as funny? Just the way it sounds, not its actual meaning.
“Seem”. “Seems”. “Seemed.”
Its just a funny word.
Sometimes I wonder how I “seem” to others. You know what I mean? Like, do I seem as cranky as I sometimes feel? Do I seem old? Do I seem happy?
I had a funny experience today, and I got a glimpse into the image that I project to strangers. It made me laugh.
I was meeting a friend at a small state park. I had never been to this particular park, so I was driving along slowly, trying to find the entrance. I saw a sign that looked right, and pulled slowly into the parking lot. There was a little wooden building there, like you’d find at the entrance to a beach or a campground, and a pretty young girl was standing in the doorway. She raised her hand in a wave, and I waved back.
“Good morning”, she said, approaching my window.
“Good morning! I’m supposed to be meeting a friend, and I’m hoping that this is the right place. Is this the main entrance?”
“Yes”, she smiled and nodded, her shiny auburn hair glinting in the morning sunlight. “This is where you park to enjoy the lake, the picnic area or any of the trails.”
I had noticed a sign on the door of the little ticket booth. It said, “Full day fee: $8:00” I had my right hand in my purse as I chatted with the young lady, but it was coming up sadly empty.
“Oh, dear”, I told her with some embarrassment, “I don’t think I brought any cash.”
She looked at me with sympathy in her brown eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry….I…..”
I found my check book in the front pocket of my bag, and held it up to her. “Can I write a check?”
“Yes!”, she was clearly relieved that she wasn’t going to have to kick me out of the park on this hot summer day. “But…….” She was looking at me closely now, and I saw that she was biting her lip. “I’m not sure how to ask this. It’s tricky. Um…..”
Her words trailed off, but I held my smile as I waited for her to gather her nerve. What on earth was she planning to ask me? Did she want to search the trunk? Was she worried that the clear liquid in my bottle was vodka instead of water? Was this part of some anti-terrorism measure or something? What could it possibly be?
I saw her take a deep breath, and she knotted her hands in front of her. “OK”, she stood up straighter, “I’m just going to come right out and ask. Are you 65 or older?”
I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing. THAT’S what all the stammering and ahemming was about? Here I was, afraid that I looked like a shady character or a terrorist or a pervert of some kind. And she was wondering if she could charge me the Senior Citizen rate!
“No,” I answered, through my giggles. “But thanks for asking me that! I know I have white hair, but I’m only 59.”
“And your hair is beautiful!”, she gushed immediately. “I mean, I didn’t think you looked 65, but…..” I interrupted her with another laugh. “Don’t worry! I’m not insulted! I guess it takes some nerve to ask that question, doesn’t it?”
She grinned back at me, relief all over her pretty face. “Some people get really upset if we ask. But you just seem so friendly, I figured I’d give it a shot and see if I could save you some money!”
I wrote out my check, handed it to her with another round of thanks, and headed into the park to meet my friend for a morning walk.
I guess I “seem” different on the outside than I “seem” to myself!
And that’s probably a good thing.