The Darndest Things

Remember Art Linkletter? I sure do.

I was having a wander through the internet this week and tripped over a little bit of trivia. Art Linkletter, probably best known for the creation of the television show Kids Say The Darndest Things, was born in Moose Jaw. (If you remember, I was talking about Moose Jaw a couple of weeks ago.)

The first iteration of Kids Say The Darndest Things was not the television show, however. It was a book. Published in 1957 by Prentice-Hall. I remember the television show being full of laughter. Most kids just have no filter whatsoever.

I have been told that as a kid, I indeed had no filter. My father reminds me of it periodically and now, fifty-plus years later, we laugh about it. In the moment, he, most assuredly, did not. I actually don’t remember this incident, that’s how young I was at the time. I’m recounting it here from the myriad of times it’s been told to me. (Names changed to protect the innocent.)

It would have happened in the late-sixties, I’d guess. My parents had guests over for dinner. Among those guests was an older widow named Juanita Kirk. She was a fabulous woman — always full of laughter, friendly, and loving. You couldn’t help but have a good time if Mrs. Kirk was there.

Mrs. Kirk was also very well endowed. And very short. Five feet tall at most.

You know how it is when you have guests over for dinner. There’s lots of conversation, usually a bunch of laughter, and hopefully everyone is enjoying themselves. Towards the end of dinner, Mrs. Kirk got up to put her plate in the kitchen and get another glass of wine.

When she returned to the table and sat down, she sat forward to join in one of the conversations. With her plate and silverware gone, there was an empty space on the table in front of her. And due to both her height and her endowment, pretty much the entirety of her breasts rested on the table.

When do kids say those darndest things? When it’s quiet so everyone can hear, right? (Translation: when it’s quiet so they don’t interrupt the grown-ups.)

Anyway, much to my father’s chagrin, I’m told, at that moment there was indeed a lull in the conversation during which I leaned over and said, “Mrs. Kirk sure has big titties, doesn’t she, dad?”

I’m sure his jaw dropped. I’m sure if he had food in his mouth, he would have choked on it. I’m also sure he turned bright red.

After my father apologized profusely, multiple times, she waved it off. “Don’t worry about it. He doesn’t know what he’s saying.” And in truth, I didn’t. I was only four years old.

Now, of course, I’m much older. And when that story comes up, I have to wonder: Outwardly, Mrs. Kirk handled it very well. But what about inwardly? How would Mrs. Kirk have handled it? And, comments from four-year-olds aside, I have to assume that was a reasonably frequent occurrence in one form or another.

I have no actual frame of reference for it. I can guess how to handle it but, I’ve never had to remind someone that my eyes are up here. I’ve never been made to feel uncomfortable because someone’s ogling me or judging me based on one specific part of my anatomy. And I’ve never had to fend off inappropriate comments about those same parts.

Wow. That took a real left-hand turn. I was initially going to ask at the end if your kids had said or done any darndest things — and, if you do have those stories, I’d love to hear them. But after all that above, I have to ask — ladies, how on earth do you put up with it?

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