Chew with your mouth closed.

Last night I gave a talk at a local library. Prior to the presentation, I called the institution to confirm our meeting time. My telephone, dialed and ringing was in one hand, and a generous slab of my mother's delicious (in her words "a little dry and not that good. I'm not sure what's wrong with it.") carrot cake was in the other.

On ring one a generous portion of the delicious carrot cake went into my mouth. In between ring one and ring two, I began to regret multi-tasking. At the end of ring two, I had cleared a passage connecting the back of my throat to the telephone's receiver. A wad of delicious cake the size of my tongue sat upon my already existing tongue. Maybe I'll get another ring and have time to swallow, I thought.

"Hello, thank you for calling the...," I heard. It was the executive director.

"Mmm. Oh hi, this is Rachel," I said.

"Oh Rachel," the director paused. "Rachel who?"

"Mmm. Rachel. Rachel Mackow. Tonight's speaker. I'm calling to confirm."

"Oh, hello! I didn't recognize your voice," she said.


When I arrived at the program venue later that evening, the director handed me a stack of interlibrary loans. "I checked these out for you. I thought your husband might not be in until Monday to pick them up." She also apologized for not recognizing my voice on the phone.

It's a small town, and my husband, son, and I frequent the library regularly. My husband and son attend Monday story hour weekly, enjoying new books and a craft. I stop by to check email or finish out the work day on their computers. For us, it's the Cheers tavern, but with books on tap.

Raised Catholic and never imbued with the ability to lie at all, I blundered on, "Welllll... I had just taken a big bite of my mom's carrot cake from Easter. I guess I was multi-tasking."

Luckily, I was invited back to do another program.