New Year’s Resolutions


Most kids don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore and as a 6th grader I gave up the practice too.  It was all because of my terrible fault of laughing at inappropriate times.   I could not swallow my giggles when I should have kept a solemn demeanor.  Many a lecture was delivered, both at school and at home, about suppressing inappropriate laughter, but warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears for some of us “growing girls.”


Mrs. Schamus-Smith, the richest woman in our town, decided to have a tea at her home to raise money for the church.  She asked my mother if I, along with some older girls, could help serve sandwiches and cakes at the event.


The guests were seated in front of a grand piano for this was to be a musical affair with a real live opera star imported from Omaha.  We youngsters were placed toward the front on folding chairs.   We had been groomed and properly threatened so we were on our best behavior.


Someone was supposed to accompany the singer, but they were never seen for out walked a flashy, fleshy figure, which totally obscured any background, dressed in red stockings and a pair of pointed shoes that clacked as she walked, garish skirts, a Spanish shawl and a long black wig, which held a giant comb.


She would have fit in a Marx Brother’s film very easily.  I felt a laugh starting to boil up so I tucked my chin into my collar and began praying that I would die rather than chortle.   When the music crashed and the singer let out hyena howls three octaves high all the threats about my conduct vanished-I sputtered out a laugh-but as fate would have it I turned it into a severe coughing spell, causing choking and gagging.   Some kind souls bundled me off in a hurry to Mrs. Smith’s stainless kitchen.  “Until she feels better,” they said.


All the New Year’s resolutions I made about self-control had flown away and I had fallen far below the standards set by those who served Mrs. Schamus-Smith.   It was, I finally thought, all in one’s thinking about the feelings of others and no laughter could show proper interest in my fellow man.   A resolution could be kept if one tried hard enough.


However, one day my grandma Anna and grampa Frank cane to visit.   They kept canaries and a grumpy parrot, named Wolfgang at their house.   Grandma told me that she had some very sad news for me.   Tears welled up in her eyes and she fumbled with her handkerchief, “You remember Wolfgang?  Yesterday, when your grampa came home from work Wolfgang said, ‘Goodbye Frank’ and fell off his perch dead.”


There went my very last resolution.   I laughed and laughed.


Mary Elizabeth Mruzik

Pacific, Missouri