Monday, July 24, 2017

First Word: Suzanne Adam: Surprise


A surprise may be a happy event or a sad one, but the word has a positive connotation for me. Words are flexible, adaptable, depending upon the context, the speaker and the listener. Multiple factors color a word.

            What color is surprise? Bright red, orange or yellow. Definitely not blue, brown or black. Difficult even to see it as violet. Does surprise evoke a smell? It would be an unexpected scent: bacon in church, Old Spice in a convent, French fries in the bathroom, roses at the beach. It’s fun to imagine these incongruous matches.
            Unexpected visitors. Yes, I’ve had those. An old boyfriend. A spider in the shower.
            Unexpected gifts. Once a fifth-grade student brought me a martini in a plastic glass with a lid. My husband isn’t one to plan romantic surprises. No diamond earrings or week on a Caribbean island. For my birthday and Christmas I must tell him what to get for me. Surprise gifts can be awkward. What if I don’t like the color of the sweater? I must pretend delight and wear it several times until he forgets he gave it to me. The reverse is sometimes true. I buy something I like for him, but he doesn’t like it. I catch on immediately. He’s not clever at pretending.
            The predicted rain for this weekend will be no surprise. It’s been drummed into our heads by the weathermen for days. Although the rain is expected, it will be the occasion for as much celebration as the victory of the Chilean soccer team in the America Cup.
            Yesterday I had unexpected good news. I took Speedy Gonzalez our tortoise to be weighed at the veterinarian’s. He’d been suffering health problems and weight loss all summer, and I’d been feeding him with a syringe. Six weeks ago I finally let him hibernate. The surprise – he’d gained one hundred grams!
            “Good boy,” I said as I pat his shell. My tender loving care seemed to be paying off. I placed him back in his box, and shredded more newspaper to make his hibernation digs cozier.
            Because these days seldom bring good news, I look forward eagerly to the patter of rain on our roof this weekend. I’ll be tempted to go out and dance in its caress.

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