On expressions I will never use again

I’m on the phone with a friend of mine who lives in New York, and she mentions that she ran into a novelist she knows who lives down the street from her—“It’s New York, after all”—and I say, “Yeah, you can’t swing a cat without hitting a writer.”

Jessica is listening to me and suddenly her whole body freezes.  

What did you just say?” she demands. She often participates in my phone conversations, so I hold the phone aside and say to her, “It’s just an expression.”

She insists: “Did you say swing a cat? 

“I said, ‘You can’t swing a cat,’ which you can’t. It just means—”

But she has already burst into tears. Yes, tears: big, huge, sobbing tears about my cruelty to cats.

“I think I’d better go,” I say to my friend, and hang up the phone. I turn to Jessica. “Sweetie . . . .”

But by now she has moved onto hiccupping sobs. “I cannot believe you would swing a cat!”

“It’s just an expression,” I try to explain. “It just means—”

“Do not swing cats anymore!” she says, near hysteria, and so I say, “Yes. I promise. I will never say that expression again. Ever.”

“Because there is no swinging of cats in this house,” she says firmly, still sniffling a little. 

“Yes. I mean, no. No swinging of cats. Got it.”

“You promise.” 

This is one promise that is easy to make. “Yes,” I say. “I will never swing a cat. Or even mention the swinging of cats.”

“Okay.”  

I hug her. “Is it okay if it rains cats and dogs?”

“That is ridiculous,” she says.

A few of my favorite things

LESSONS IN MAGIC
A CERTAIN KIND OF MAGIC
THE IMPROBABLE ADVENTURES OF A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN
DOJO WISDOM FOR WRITERS

5 Comments

  1. Reading this made me smile. out loud 🙂
    -thank-you!

  2. Your post made me smile and tear up at the same time. Lovely.. as always.

  3. Loved that ending! Priceless.

  4. Yes. Anyone knows that raining cats and dogs is ridiculous whereas swinging a cat…what were you thinking?!
    What a lovely story…again. Thank you for sharing the unerring wisdom of Jessica. It's just beautiful and funny and lovely all rolled into one.

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