I don't remember if it had Grandma's name on it or not, but it was understood that the barometer showed her mood just as it was understood that the quarter affixed to the glass in the window of the door next to it showed Grandpa's sense of humor. He had won the quarter in a friendly bet, and glued it there as a constant reminder to his unlucky friend. The Mood Barometer may have been another example of his mischief, but given the longevity of their marriage, I doubt it.
By the time I came along, Grandma and Grandpa were in their late 60s (which isn't nearly as old now as it was then), and babysitting me was quite a change from their regular routine. After getting on Grandma's last nerve, I would head out to the garage to bother Grandpa.
As I passed through the breezeway I would usually stop and move the barometer hand to “Grumpy.” If Grandpa caught me he'd chuckle and say “Ohhhh, we can't leave it that way. That would make Mommy cross.” This only supported my assessment, but I would dutifully move the little red pointer back to “Happy” or “Loving,” as Grandpa suggested.
I thought of that barometer as I was driving in to town this morning.
The long, long list of things that I need to get done was running through my head, at odds with the limits of a 24-hour day. The more I thought about it, the bigger the black cloud of crabbiness surrounding me grew. I really should warn people when I'm this crabby, I thought. I need Grandma's Mood Barometer, or maybe I should just wear a button that says “Warning: Crabby.”
I imagined how my kids would react to this idea and started to laugh. The high pressure system moved out, crabby clouds parted and all murderous thoughts cleared. The arrow on my mood barometer swung to “Happy.”
When I picked up the Princess after school, I told her about my idea for the warning button. She didn't say anything.
“I figure you and the Little Prince would probably make me wear it all the time,” I laughed.
She didn't answer.
“Um, so, what do you think?” I asked.
After a long pause she looked at me, sighed, then turned her attention back to the road.
“I was thinking you should have it embroidered on all your shirts.”
I'm sensing a drop in barometric pressure.