Ask Kay. She knows everything

“And don’t tell me you don’t know,” mother said very assertively.

“What?” I said. What was she talking about?

“Don’t tell me you don’t know if you don’t know the answer,” she repeated. “I hate it when people say ‘I don’t know'” She simpered and mocked a little as she said the phrase.


I waited.

“Well?” she said.

“Well, what?” I replied. I was being a bit obstructive. I didn’t know the answer. What could I say after that?

“What’s the answer?”

“I’m not telling you the answer because I don’t have the answer. I guess we will have to look it up in the dictionary,” I replied.

And then I went off looking for the dictionary.

Henceforward, I looked for alternatives so that I would not trigger her distaste for the dreaded brush-off answer.

  • “That’s Otto’s expertise. We’ll have to ask him.”
  • “Let’s go look it up on the Internet”
  • “Do you know where the encyclopedia is? “
  • “We should get out the bird book”

Or I simply made up an answer. If she asked how many people lived in Russia, I’d just pick a number out of the air and say it as if it were true, but always with a weasel clause. “Probably about 58 million, although since the USSR broke up, it’s hard to say.”

“What kind of bird is that in the yard”

“A passerine, I think. Although I would have to look it up to be sure. Do you want me to?”
“No, ” she would reply, satisfied, “you are probably right. Don’t get up now.” And we would move onto something else.

It got to be a game for me. Anytime my natural answer would have been “I don’t know” I would find another way to say it.

As she became more dependent on me to do her reading and her running about, she became more reliant on my ability to answer her many questions. She was a highly intelligent woman who was used to finding out what interested her, finding out what she didn’t know. My siblings began to get quite ruffled when Mother would say to them, “Just ask Kay. Kay knows everything.”

Kay did not know everything. Kay faked a lot to keep harmony in the house. But I admit there was some pleasure in seeing Otto’s irritation as Mother took my opinion as gospel. Or Lizbet’s.

Tonight, Otto and I had dinner with mother’s loyal nonogenarian friend. He admitted that he’s catching up to Mother just this coming May. He will be ninety five. ‘Twas a lovely dinner at the Fish House in Stanley Park. We drove him home and his dinner companion, a feisty octogenarian lady who lives across the hall from him.

Otto and I left them on the doorstep and drove away, passing through some construction for the new Canada Line – the new stretch of rapid transit that is disrupting traffic throughout the city.

I asked Otto, “Wonder why they’ve dug everything up twice? They put the new services in – water mains, electricity trunk lines, sewer and storm drainage – and then they covered up. Why couldn’t they just build the Skytrain line while they were at it? Now they have to dig back up again.”

“Beats me!” says Otto, with a wry smile on his face. “Why don’t you just ask Kay. She knows everything. Isn’t that what Mother would say?”


2 Responses to “Ask Kay. She knows everything”

  1. bluedragonfly Says:

    This made smile 🙂 It must be nice to know everything. Besides, the truth is subjective anyhow, right?

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Right! Just ask two countries who are at war!

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