“You have a lot on your plate”

I hear that a lot.  From people who know me well.  From total strangers who make this brilliant deduction (tipped off by the 4 kids in tow, one in wheelchair, maybe a goofy dog thrown into the mix).

And I usually get an odd look on my face in response.  Because, this is what is going through my mind:

a) Are you implying that I stink at portion control? That I’ve been gorging myself on the Buffet of Life Disasters?

b) Next thing I know, you’re going to offer to “come along side me”, and as someone who grew up with a passel of siblings who were known to actually snatch food off one’s plate (Hi Nathan, Clyde, and Seth),  this makes me highly suspicious of you.

c) Ought I to respond in kind? “Yes, but I think outside the box and push the envelope so at the end of the day all the bases are all covered and it will all come out in the wash . . .”

d) Paper plate? Chinet? Stoneware? Fine china?  Just what kind of plate are you envisioning? Perhaps more importantly, who’s doing the dishes?

e) I was told there would be dessert. Do I have to finish everything on my plate?

Oh, I know what the phrase means. http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/have+a+lot+on+plate. I know that when people say this, they are expressing empathy and are being nice.  But it’s just awkward.

I think this calls for a more formalized, ritualistic etiquette, which is a good way to deal with those recurring awkward social situations.  I suggest that the proper response should be:  “Yea, verily. And may your cup overflow in kind.” Maybe a ritualistic hand motion to accompany the words, and a secret handshake to signal a switch to other topics of conversation.

Sorry — can’t help how my brain works. I appreciate the kind impulse behind the words, even as I’m silently snarking to myself.

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