Revelations about self in others’ eyes

Posted June 12, 2009, at 8:06 p.m.

My Roslindale High School education taught me, among other things, the immortal comment by Bobby Burns, when he caught a louse in the hair of a beautiful woman sitting in front of him in church. “O wad some Power the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us.”

Bobby talked funny.

All of this useless knowledge came flooding back last week when my niece Beth, the one who has promised to house me when I get too feeble (next Tuesday), sent me an e-mail.

The gist of the e-mail was “If you saw me handcuffed in the back seat of a cruiser, what would you guess the crime was?” The idea was to send the missive to your “friends” and see what they really think of you.

My very favorite cousin Jerry (when he’s not bragging about his music degree from Berklee) probably knows me better than anyone. He knows all about the arson cases and the loaded handgun pointed at the S.S. Pierce deliveryman. His guess was “drunk and disorderly” but he also guessed that he would be sitting beside me, cuffed in the cruiser.

I told you he was a favorite.

Blue Eyes has driven a few thousand miles with me, in various vehicles. I am not allowed to have a handgun because ignorant, stupid, mindless tailgaters make me drool with rage. Instead of shooting them, my tactic is to simply slow down to a crawl to see if these morons can figure out how to pass another car.

Her guess was “road rage.” A good one, naturally.

When she is not on the belly-dancing circuit, Annie is a mild-mannered insurance adjuster. As such, she never lets you forget anything that will harm a vehicle. It was true that I received a ticket a few years ago for passing a New York car on the right in front of Moody’s simply because there was no room on the left as the dolt tried to figure out what a green light meant. In court, I argued manfully that the charge was “de minimis” because a legal expert told me to. When the judge stopped laughing, he found me guilty, but my dazzling argument got the fine eliminated.

Annie’s guess? “Passing on the right. Again.”

My sister Elinor has repressed rage over a bicycle incident, some 60 years ago. She simply will not let it go. She is much older than I (16 months) and is even more forgetful than I am. She once returned Christmas presents to the wrong store. Sorry, lady.

Her guess was “driving your truck into the door of the local supermarket.” Now, I have hit the wrong gear a time or two, but never long enough to get through the door. Hmph.

Her lovely daughter who bears the same name and is lucky enough to be my goddaughter (imagine the yearly presents) was gentle enough to guess “disturbing the peace.” Almost a compliment.

John Hammer, a former Courier columnist, always claims I get my best ideas from him. His stab was “plagiarism,” although I didn’t know that was a crime, only a professional transgression.

Wayne is a professional accountant who has never served time to my knowledge. He guessed “indecent exposure.”

Ivory Tower Tom went with “public sloth.” Is that a crime?

Cousin Susan, who knows much too much of my history, guessed “jaywalking under the influence.” David Grima, who celebrates his birthday all year long, guessed “making obscene phone calls.” Odd.

Since he once carried my stretcher across the snow to a waiting ambulance on Christmas Eve, Paul Harrigan always gets his say. He had something disgusting to say about a monkey and an all-boys school. Revolting.

And these are my closest friends.

At least none of them said I had lice in my hair.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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