Thursday, February 07, 2013

Who’s the boss?

Now that Lily is officially one of us we’ve had a fine time truly getting to know one another.  The therapist/ counseling world lost a jewel when Lily didn’t take up that trade, she would have been superb at that profession. I also think she would have made a great bartender.

I rarely speak of my childhood or first marriage even here on my site, which I consider my safe place, and even more rarely to people I see daily.  But when you talk to Lily she makes you feel like your story is the most important thing in the world to her. She got me talking about my childhood one day and ended up holding and comforting me for quite a while, as I surprised myself when I burst into tears.  The stories I’ve shared about my first marriage outraged Lily so completely that she angrily told me that she’d ‘Like to dig that so-and-so up and beat the stuffin’ out of him!’

But most conversations with Lily are full of laughter. She will sit with us in the morning when we have coffee.  We’ve told her many of our old stories. Lily frequently wonders aloud why ‘Mr. Tom and Mr. Steve don’t take a stick to you two.’ None of us have responded to this musing. There is no doubt we love Lily, however, we do have a problem and Sue and I felt recently that the time had come to address it.

This may come as a shock to some of my readers, but I don’t like to be told what to do. I grudgingly listen to Tom (when I have no choice), but listening to Lily is another matter all together. It seems that Lily also wants to be the boss and I don’t need another!

Lily is a scold.  She frequently fusses about things even Tom chooses to let go with just a frown, but not Lily.  I’ve been known to step out on the deck some cool mornings without slipping on my shoes – if Lily sees she pitches a fit.  I’m trying to lose a bit of weight.  Tom’s not in favor and Lily starts fussing if I try to skip breakfast or lunch.  She wants to know where I’m going if I pick up my car keys, she wants me to wear a bike helmet.  She fusses at Sue for not wearing a sweater or coat outdoors; Lily has a fit if she hears any cussing.  She’s onto both of us about being sure to take our meds and she won’t quit harping that we, in her opinion, drink too much.

Sue and I have had enough and we decided that it was clearly time to let Lily know that as her employers, friendship not withstanding, that we were indeed the bosses and her fussing and scolding needed to stop!  I shared with Tom that this conversation would be happening soon and he seemed highly amused.

“Don’t laugh at me.” I fussed, “I don’t have to mind Lily now do I?”

“Oh no,” Tom assured me with a twinkle in his eye. “You only have to mind me.  Just remember though that quite often what Lily tells you is likely to coincide with what I’ve all ready said.  Just don’t get yourself in trouble trying to defy Lily and end up defying me. Because if that happens I will properly toast that beautiful little bottom of yours.  Listen to me now.” I gave Tom a scowl and he gave me a kiss and a firm swat on the bottom as he headed to work.

That afternoon Annie and Andy were away looking at granite for the new house.  Sue and I had agreed that Annie being there would undermine what we had to say. Tom, Steve and Ryan were going golfing when Tom got off work so Sue and I decided the time was right. While Lily was working upstairs, we grabbed a bottle of wine; both for fortification and to prove we had the right.

As Lily came down the stairs I called to her, “Lily, Sue and I would like to speak with you for a moment. Could you join us?” Lily came in with a suspicious look on her face, which changed to a dark frown when she saw the wine bottle.

“Lily,” I began before she could start in on us, “please sit down.”  I was using my formal – I’m not fooling around – voice. “Sue and I need to speak with you about a problem.  I’m sure you know how much we enjoy you working for all of us.  You know you have become a true friend, not just a valued employee.  But you seem to be having a hard time realizing who’s the boss around here.”

Lily’s face was calm and expressionless as I continued, “You seem to feel it’s your place to tell Sue and me what we should do and not do. It’s not. If we choose to go out barefoot in the snow, it’s our business.  Whatever we choose to do – be it smoke, drink, or cuss, it doesn’t concern you.  You don’t need to know where we are going every time we leave the house. As much as we think of you, you have to realize who is in charge here.  Do you understand who the boss is?”

Lily sat quietly for a moment then softy, as if repeating it to herself she said, “Do I understand who’s the boss?”  Suddenly her voice became quite firm, “Now that’s just silly talk. I know exactly who the boss is.  It ain’t my place to tell you two what to do – you’re old enough to know without being told.  You don’t run around in the cold with no shoes or coat or you’ll catch your death, and you know better than to use ugly language around me or even each other.  You do that and you’ll end up saying it in front of other folks and that just makes you look like trash.”

Lily was just getting good and wound up, “And you better be tellin’ me if your men ain’t here where you going when you leave the house.  You’re too old to be off by your lonesome and no body knowin’ where you are.  And you ain’t going to sit around drinking all day neither.  I don’t want people saying that I work for a couple of old lushes.  It’s just not ladylike. And,” Lily went on, rising to her feet. “You better not ever let me catch either one of you smoking or I might just smoke me some britches.  Now,” she concluded, “that we got all that straight I’m going to fix you all a snack.  Supper’s gonna be a little late. And you don’t need this.” She said, grabbing the wine bottle, “a glass a piece is plenty.” And then she was gone.

Sue and I stared at one another until Sue finally said, “Well I guess you got her told.”

“You weren’t much help.” I told her.  I shook my head trying to clear it. “Do you get the feeling our snack’s going to be animal crackers and milk?  How can she make me feel so old and so young in the same tirade?” Finally Sue and I exchanged looks of amused exasperation.   We each sighed as the realization dawned on us, unfortunately we felt one thing had been settled, there seems to be very little doubt as to who’s the boss.