Retort Verses Restraint

One of my favorite 12 Step slogans is: Restraint of pen and tongue. In other words, shut-up and whatever you do, don’t send that email you know you shouldn’t send.

I’ve said it before but people say things to me I’d never say to anyone else.

For instance…

I was sitting in the park eating a bagel sharing it with a couple of birds.

Along comes this woman who stops and says, “I hope you do realize you’re attracting rats?” (attracting rats! Is it my hair?)

“Am I?” I said without taking that much suggested pause. “I think you must be right since now you’re here.”


Where is that slogan…where did I put it…must be in my other bag.

She seemed so startled at my quick remark that she practically ran away.

Uh-oh…well, she started it but it wasn’t very 12 Steppy of me, now was it?

When I was little I’d watch my mother and grandfather always feed the birds. The collective reasoning was, ‘they have to eat too,’ which has stayed with me for well over 50 years.

The other thing, if you’ve ever fed them, it’s gone way before you can say,”I hope you do realize you’re attracting rats.”

I’ve even heard my friend Jed, who loves all creatures say it, but I can’t help disagreeing.

It’s not as if I’m dropping bags of bread as I walk like Gretel and even she was conservative sprinkling those few ‘come hither’ crumbs. (I know Hansel was there too, I don’t care about him right now.)

I was taught that if you’re eating you share. Just the other day I split my rustic tuna, hummus and white bean sandwich with a homeless man who happened to be sitting on the same bench as me. Of course it was too bad he didn’t like it and spit it out, but the point was that I gave him half. It seemed to annoy him though that I didn’t have any chips.

“Next time,” I told him.

To may a long story, or post in this case, a little longer…

I like feeding others four-legged or otherwise and if some woman feels that I’ve taken, Give us our daily bread to the extreme then rats to that…

as they say.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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30 Responses to Retort Verses Restraint

  1. yourothermotherhere says:

    I applaud your snappy comebacks. I’m one of those people who think of a good answer 24 hours later!


  2. I wish I had your presence of mind, Susannah. Priceless what you dished back to the rat lady!


  3. Rob says:

    Your one-woman crusade to make Manhattan creature friendly will bear fruit. Maybe you should abandon the twelve step plan: you’re so much more entertaining when you’re unfettered.


    • Susannah Bianchi says:

      I try to be a decent, kind human being but I have this trigger finger – have always had it. Get it from my mother who could shred her brethren like a head of lettuce. Also, where animals are concerned, all bets are off. Birds come under that category.


  4. Nabilla says:

    I love the quick wit you have for people who just want to bring the rest of the world down with them. You go girl! 🙂


    • Oh Nabilla, what can I say? New York is filled with the contrary. You’re sitting there minding your own business and suddenly out of nowhere you have a critic. Hope all is well in the world of the plow and tree pose.


  5. backonmyown says:

    I wish I could think that fast. You made me laugh with glee. Thanks.


  6. Sheila says:

    Thanks for the laugh! Sometimes it seems better to just say whatever’s on your mind, without those self-editing pauses. Then at least people always know what you’re thinking.


  7. kerrycooks says:

    Never stop feeding the birds!


  8. D. D. Syrdal says:

    I almost spit out a mouthful of soup when I read that 🙂 HAHAHA! Are the rats coming by to eat the birds? We did actually get rats in the building where I used to work because several of the ladies there kept birdfood in plastic tubs in the office. Turns out rats like the taste of the plastic, and ate through it (and most of the plants people had in their cubes while they were passing by), and were building a nest in the little ‘cooking cube’ their dept. had.

    You’re hardly stockpiling food for the rats to find by tossing out a few bread crumbs, however.


    • Susannah Bianchi says:

      Yes, I do know they have particular tastes but again, I was not hoarding bread in plastic bins. Believe me, I loathe them too but her accusation was over the top. Women…a man would never have said that. Of course a man would never have noticed that I had breakfast companions. lol


      • D. D. Syrdal says:

        Some people will butt in to anyone’s business because they have nothing better to do. The only way a man would have paid any attention is if your breakfast companions were naked wood nymphs.


      • Susannah Bianchi says:

        Yes, if I was feeding Miss January and Miss July then it would have been another matter. He would have sat down.


  9. Oh, who knew the Bread Police would be patrolling the park to take down bagel sharers. I’m so glad you you weren’t wearing your filter.


  10. Patricia says:

    What makes your response any worse the the biddy’s remark? I mean, really, she started it…


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