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Let me explain why I always explain

"Mom," my son hissed as we stepped outside after enjoying a fine meal at the Passage to India restaurant in Philadelphia, "you don't have to explain everything."

He was referring, of course, to the fact that I had just finished telling our server and our host that although we genuinely appreciated their sincere invitation to return to their restaurant soon, we probably wouldn't because we actually live in Salt Lake City as opposed to Philadelphia.Sometime during the course of the evening I had also given them the lowdown on all the Indian restaurants along the Wasatch Front, in addition to telling them about that time I asked a waiter to hook me up with the hottest dish of the house - which I ate, thereby causing me to lose all my nose hair, in addition to permanently stripping my mucous membranes. But I digress.

The point is that how I talk to strangers embarrasses my son. Of course the mere fact of my existence is embarrassing enough to some of my kids right now, especially the 13-year-old who waits for his friends on the front porch every morning, like a terrier eager for a mailman to gnaw on. This way my son's friends won't ring the doorbell, which means I won't accidentally open the door and say hello to them, thereby alerting the whole world to the fact that there is an actual mother lurking on the premises.

Still, I'll be the first to admit that my kids have a point when they say I sometimes tell waiters and receptionists and store clerks and other people who BASICALLY DON'T CARE way more than they ever wanted to know.

The problem is that these people, for whatever reason, make me feel the need to explain myself - why I'm returning an item I just bought yesterday, why I'm canceling another appointment, why my library books are overdue again, why I haven't returned to have my hair woven in five months, why my kids forgot to wear underwear to the doctor's office.

I'm pretty certain no one really wants to know "the rest of the story," but there I go - launching into my unnecessary explanations anyway, trying to understand for myself the goofiness of it all.

At this point in her life, my mother pretty much follows that old stiff-upper-lip, Royal Family adage about not complaining and not explaining. She used to be an Explainer, though. A good one, too. She stopped her random acts of explaining, however, after the infamous Episode at the Bank.

There she was, just standing in line at a bank waiting to make a simple withdrawal. Suddenly, she felt as though someone was staring at her. Probably because someone was staring at her. A man. In a white coat. A white lab coat. The kind doctors wear. Doctors to whom you owe money.

My mother wasn't wearing her glasses that day, but she became convinced this staring man in a white lab coat was that brand-new doctor of hers she hadn't paid yet because she'd been out of town, and now here he was, showing up at the bank like a character in an episode of "The Twilight Zone" to silently harass her.

My mother cheerfully confesses that she snapped under the strain of it all. She ultimately approached the man and explained that she very much appreciated his services as a doctor. She also explained that she was always prompt about paying her bills and that she would mail him a check that very day and that the only reason she hadn't done so was that she had been on a little trip (they went to Florida) with her husband (who was originally from Orem) to whom she had been married for three wonderful years (they were married on July 21).

The man in the white coat looked at my mother and said, "Lady, I don't know who you think I am, but I ain't your doctor." Then he added for clarity's sake, "I'm a barber." After that, he began inching away from her - step by tiny step - as did everyone else standing in line, because they thought they were dealing with another one of your beautiful lunatics.

So, from that very day on, my mother stopped approaching men in white and accusing them of being her doctor. Also, she stopped explaining herself and settled instead for eloquent silence and discovered, in the process, that the world was none the worse for it. Now, she urges me to stop explaining myself, too - which I will, just as soon as I explain to you why I find it so hard to stop explaining myself.