Thursday, April 06, 2006

Accosting a Stranger

My husband and I have just finished a dinner out and are paying the check when we decide not to call it a night quite yet. "Afterall," he says as he stands up, "The babysitter hasn't called." We've never had a babysitter call yet.

And then he looks at his cellphone and sees the glowing display. Missed Call. I lean over his shoulder and try to stay calm as he flips opens the phone and hits the button for See Missed Calls.

7:57 pm
April 2, 2006

My husband's face fills with confusion. My stomach fills with dread. Oh, no. My babies. Something has happened to one of my babies. Fun time is over. Why didn't the phone ring? No time to think of that or anything else. I have to concentrate on the situation at hand.

Wait. I think it's later than April 2nd. Isn't it? I pivot around suddenly and, in a stern tone, demand of the woman at the table behind us, "What day is today?" She stares at me blankly. "Number day!" I quiz. I can see her mind racing. I try again, all business, all boss-lady. "What number is today?" I am all impatience as the waitress arrives and says, "It's the fifth. Today's April 5th."

Whew. It's an old, never-retrieved call from me to my husband. My husband, who is now fighting back the laughter of relief and mortification, as he propels me out of the restaurant before I can fiercely interrogate any other unwary diners.

push the panic button
Also press the panic button.
Overreact to a situation. This term originated during World War II, when certain bombers had a bell-warning system so that the crew could bail out if the plane was severely hit. Occasionally a pilot would push the button in error, when there was only minor damage, causing the crew to bail out unnecessarily. By 1950 the expression had been transferred to other kinds of overreaction.
"push the panic button." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 07 Apr. 2006.