There was a time in my life when I had just left a job after several years. I received a nice little sum of cash from retirement and other accounts, so I decided to take advantage of the situation. Instead of trying to find a new job right away, I decided to do a little bit of traveling. I bought a train ticket and went to Canton, Ohio to spend a few days with my oldest sister, Margit, her husband, Harlan, and her daughter Johanna. Then Johanna and I got on the train to spend about a week in New York City. In fact, Johanna had her seventeenth birthday in Manhattan. After the days of fun and sightseeing and shopping, we went back to Ohio, and Margit and I went on a road trip.
Margit really wanted to take me to Reading, Pennsylvania. I am not sure if it is the same now, but in those days, a lot of people in that area would drive to Pennsylvania to go outlet shopping. Not only did they have large outlet malls, they had no sales tax! So we drove there, checked in to our hotel, and had some dinner before hitting the stores. Why wait until tomorrow when you can shop today?
When we were in the first cavernous store, Margit got a funny look on her face and said, "Where's the restroom? I really have to go!" Of course I didn't know where it was, I had never been to this place before. As we searched for the facilities, it happened. Margit set off a gas bomb. A loud gas bomb. Being a smartypants from birth, I said, "God Bless you!" She gave me an exasperated look, and we found the restrooms. I think many women, including me, will stop at the fire hydrant when our friend has to do so. It just makes sense. That way they won't be mad at you later for having to stop everything because you have to tinkle.
So we went into stalls right next to each other, and then my body betrayed me. It made a teensy little "pfft" sound, which caused my sister to say, "Are you talking to me?" I thought she had pulled off the ultimate smart-aleck remark, and started roaring with laughter. Which was when she realized that I hadn't been talking to her at all. So here we were, in the restroom of an outlet store, laughing till we had tears running down our faces. We could barely breathe. You've heard people say that they laughed until they tinkled in their pants, right? Well, for me it was the opposite. I was laughing so hard I couldn't! I can only imagine that the other women in the restroom thought that we were a couple of loons, and kept a lookout for us so they would know who to avoid. Needless to say, for the rest of the trip, we kept saying, "Are you talking to me?"
What made it even funnier was that about a month later, I was shopping with my other sister, Liz, and her daughter, Rebecca, and we ended up in the restroom in adjacent stalls. I started getting the giggles really bad. They got worse and worse, and Liz started laughing even though she didn't know what was so funny. Of course her daughter was disgusted and humiliated by our silly behavior in public. Until I told them what happened with Margit. The phrase quickly became a part of our family's vocabulary.
So if you ever happen to be chatting with me, beware. If an unpleasant smell or sound should drift into the vicinity, I might be asking you if you are talking to me!