Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

I Shout at Inanimate Objects


I realised today as I loudly cursed the box of medicines that had just cascaded its contents down upon my head, while my children looked on amazed as their heretofore peaceful and aimiable mother was transformed into a shrieking harridan, that I have become my father. I shout at inanimate objects. Or at objects that should be inanimate but that have surprised me by falling on my head.

I will also use my children’s language as cues to burst into brief, two-line, atonal bursts of song. So if someone says “summer”, I immediately sing:

“Summer lovin’, had me a blaaaast”

This confuses children. They have not heard of Grease and they are not sure why their conversation about why summer is better than winter, or whether summer comes before or after autumn, has suddenly turned their mother into Showgirl. I hated it when my father did this to us, and now look at me. I also whistle tunelessly when happy, just like he does, and as my grandfather did too.

The other day, I found myself on the verge of air putting. Air putting, or air swinging, is the same as air guitar, but for golf. Whenever my father is standing still with nothing in his hands, he practises his putting or sets up his golf swing. He will also grab any nearby golf-club shaped object and swipe an imaginary ball with it. When I had my first golf lessons at the age of 25, the pro was astonished. She thought I was a natural talent. What she didn’t know was the only time I ever saw my father was when he was about to hit either a real or a fictive golf-ball; and since he is a very good golfer I had subconsciously adopted his stance, style and swing.

There I was in hospital with Lily this week, as she had concussed herself, and the air-putting urge came upon me in her hospital room. We were alone, having some one-to-one time, which is pretty unusual and special for us – though unfortunate that it took concussion for it to happen – and all the while I was quelling the desire to stand up and putt invisible balls. Instead, I grabbed paper and we did some drawing together. The urge to putt left me.

But I am also becoming my mother. I mutter to myself, especially when in engaged in household tasks that I despise. I also groan just like she does when I bend down to sweep or retrieve peas tossed to the floor by boldly gesticulating eaters. Note that I do not groan when doing yoga. Groaning is reserved for tiring chores only; pleasant activities that involve bending are groan-free.

I tend to talk to people when they are in different rooms from me. This works for the sharp-eared but for the very slightly deaf, like my dear husband, it is intensely irritating. When stressed, I also walk increasingly louder and faster until I am practically stomping. It is for this trait that my stepfather, who has a way with nicknames, calls my mother “Short Steps”, as in, “Don’t go into the kitchen right now. Short Steps is on the rampage.”

How is it that I have inherited the most irritating and ridiculous of my parents’ habits? I would rather have had her neatness, his attention to detail; or her memory for stories and his for jokes. I see the future – tuneless singing, aimless putting, talking to people who aren’t there, shouting at boxes – and I worry for my children.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

13 thoughts on “I Shout at Inanimate Objects

  1. It’s when they start following you with “Tell me more! Tell me more! Did you get very far?” that you need to worry!

  2. This is a joyful and funny post Charlotte. lol

    I also talk to people out of the room, mutter to myself picking up socks, accuse inanimate objects of being stupid, and break out into song in scary ways. Maybe we are related somewhere down the family tree if we go far enough? I don’t play air golf though.

  3. This was so funny. It’s too bad we don’t get to pick the traits we inheirit. I would’ve liked my dad’s ability to eat everything and not gain weight, and my mom’s patience. Instead I got my sluggish metabolism from my mom’s side of the family, and my dad’s crankiness.

  4. IWhat did I end up with? My mothers’ capacity for seem like intuitive leaps to me and complete non-sequiturs to others…my father’s male pattern baldness…Poor dudelet!

  5. You are so funny! I felt for you as it all came tumbling out of the cupboard – I think it is good to yell though, I would have too. And I too am turning into my parents. And I have the sneaking suspicion that the traits that irritate me most in my parents, I too possess, which is the reason the things irritate me so much. That is the worst of it.

  6. Oh yes, isn’t it like it all kicks in at once, or something? Suddenly I talk back to politicians on television, like my dad, and get the same sore neck my mother gets…it’s growing ridiculous!
    Great post, so funny!

  7. you had me laughing, charlotte! i am guilty of the groaning thing (my mom did that) and the shouting at inanimate objects, especially if they happen to fall on my head, or at my computer when he refuses to render a videofile because he thinks it might be too long for his poor memory (my dad does that, too). i stomp when i’m stressed or mad at someone (mom) and i talk to people in the next room (dad). luckily i haven’t started bursting into song at a keyword – my dad does that frequently, i call him “my jukebox”, because you just have to drop in a dime (read: a line of song) and he starts performing it.
    funny how people seem to function so similarly!

  8. I used to think my mom was kinda looney. She called my stuffed rabbit a bear. She’d hand me a dish and say, “Put this cup away.” Looney! Then I had kids and realized she wasn’t looney, she was multi-tasking. Something I do all the time and inevitably end up calling things by the wrong name…including the children.

  9. Love the header. Very funny post. I will take some time and reflect on which parental traits I am incorporating into my own life. This is a good journey to take…

  10. I hope Lily is ok now.

    The other day I heard myself sharply saying “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing” – channeling my mother apparently.

    I do the singing thing constantly. I used to have a song for every colour in Trivial Pursuit- land on pink cue for a good chorus of “Let us drinka drinka drink to the Lily the Pinka, Pinka, Pink” etc. Very annoying! I also sometimes make up songs with no proper words on boring car journeys. My daughter is unfortunately already channeling me in this respect and recently on our way back from holiday we were tormented by endless choruses of “Me Mi mo” from the back seat.

  11. For a minute I thought you were talking about me, with the shouting at inanimate objects (which I think we do because it’s better than shouting at the children) and the bursting into song with minimal provocation, particularly from Grease, to which I used to know the entire sound-track and am worried that I still do, but I don’t do putting golfing or air guitar.. I don’t think and the talking to people in the next room is what my husband does to me, me being the semi-deaf one….
    When my parents last came to stay, my husband finally clicked as to why I’m not all that good at being tidy, as my mother left lids off jam pots and tidied up in a way that left things just as cluttered as before…it’s genetic, too late to produce tidy children as they tunelessly sing lyrics to the Carpenters album, that was around way before my time – time to get out Grease and indoctrinate them before its too late.

  12. Charlotte, I laughed ’til I cried imaging a Short-Stepping, Tunelessly-Singing, Air Putting, Imaginary-Friending and Box-Shouting woman.

    Lovely post, thanks! 🙂

  13. And then I left that comment with my old url instead of my new one. Doh!

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