`DON`T THROW IT! HAND it to me!'' For years, my mother repeated this exhortation daily; not because it was her favorite saying, but because in this daughter's case, the message obviously wasn't sinking in. I not only enjoyed throwing and catching things but looked on the habit as a great timesaver, indoors and out. It certainly didn't strike me as being unacceptable behavior. Not till last night, anyway, when I realized too late that I'd just thrown a hot, wet dishrag at the minister's wife. As the soggy missile whistled through the church kitchen at approximately 60 miles an hour, Mother's long-unheeded words flashed back in an instant, along with some horrifying thoughts. It's pretty high! What if she catches it with her face?
Or what if she holds on, but sweet little old Mrs. Larson, behind her, gets drenched because I didn't wring it out well enough? What if they both duck and it sails through the door to disrupt the deacons' meeting with a sudden, sodden ``splat!'' Oh, Mother, if only I'd heeded your advice!
Fortunately, ministers tend to marry multi-talented women. The dishrag was caught and promptly put to use, but that didn't stop the ``What if's'' from haunting me.
After raising seven dedicated baseball players, including an MVP pitcher, I can understand how a mother would learn to catch in self-defense. But when did I join the ranks of those who'll automatically throw anything, anytime, to anyone? When did this uncouth habit permeate our family so thoroughly that I, a typical middle-aged mother and grandmother, would think nothing of hurling a definitely un-balllike object 20 feet down the length of the church kitchen?
I assume it started long ago at our dinner table, with ``Toss me a radish (or bun, or baked potato), please.'' Of course, no one was stupid enough to consider tossing things like milk, gravy, or the meat platter, and as long as the children said please, certain items of food thrown accurately and neatly made more sense than trying to pass it in our large family. It didn't take a mathematical genius to know that the one remaining bun has no chance to make it past six hungry people, unless it is airborne.
Common household objects like caps, socks, and potholders just seem to lend themselves to tossing. In the barn, henhouse, or vegetable garden, wet udder sponges, eggs, or overripe tomatoes can turn even the most reluctant recipient into a heads-up catcher, skilled at getting a glove on almost anything that might come whizzing by.
Am I the only mother, or have others in my generation failed to warn their daughters about the heave-ho habit? I can still hear myself being told that it's just not ladylike to throw things, and I wince at what my own mother would think of using the minister's wife as a target.
All I can do is console myself by knowing that I meant well and overcome my guilt by remembering one thing: I may have thrown that dishrag a little too hard, high, hot, or wet, but that very dignified lady pulled it out of the air like a pro; a reflex act, just as unconscious as mine. Now, where did she learn to catch like that?