Crying over spilt milk.
By Sue Langenberg

I remember hearing that phrase when I was young as a caution that spilling milk was not the end of the world as we knew it. And thus, we should learn to assess our priorities in life and just fret over the big stuff.
I have learned since, however, that sometimes the spilt milk gives us pause to cry and does seem like the end of the world. Spilling something just might be the big stuff to fret about. An author friend at a book fair table recently sat down in a chair and promptly spilled his fancy-roasted coffee over the table. Several of us shrieked in unison and began saving books right and left. The puddle traveled ominously down the table heading for every neatly stacked edition until we all hyperventilated about maybe the world would soon end. But only one book was destroyed and we all survived. The author agonized about his roasted accident and might have even cried for the moment. After all, it was a perfectly good and dry edition of his own pen that was destroyed. As I saw him disposing of the book, I said that if he were to become famous, he might regret not having that particular copy around, signed and historical.
The coffee-spiller was already guilty of wrecking his computer at home for the same crime. I think that he probably cried over that one, also, when he had to put his computer in the shop for repair for a spell.
And, in fact, I think that we have all cried over spilt anything in life.
A friend chopped a salad with great effort including all the tasty nuances of onions, spinach, radishes and whatever else to be found fresh in the kitchen. She brought it to the table and promptly dropped the salad bowl to the floor, spilling all her efforts. I think she cried over spilt salad.
The spilt salad was not to be outdone by another friend who loaded his plate with spaghetti sauce, noodles and fresh herbs atop. He walked to the table and tripped over a toy sending himself and dinner to the floor. I think he cried a bit over that spilt spaghetti. As did another friend attending a funeral with me. We were wearing our appropriate black, with pearls and pursed lips. She took a small bite of yogurt and it cascaded down her chest causing a main throughway of stain on her outfit. There was a mix of crying and agonizing as she turned into a scrub-a-dub-dub blur hoping not to cause a spectacle over spilt yogurt.
I was standing around a graduation reception with my ex-husband a while back. When he has conversation, he throws around wild gestures making it dangerous for anyone nearby to stand, especially anyone nearby who happens to be holding a beverage. The victim happened to me holding, what else, a glass of red wine. Not white wine which might make a lesser stain, red. I cried at the time, scrub-a-dub-dubbed, and that outfit was never the same again. That is my one “spilt milk” story that has come to roost. That particular dress is now two sizes too small and out of fashion. Crying did no good, and really wasn’t the end of the world.
Neither was another red wine situation where I spilled some on a friend’s light carpet. It just seemed to fly out of my hand. We temporarily agonized, but ended up laughing.
But otherwise, come to think of it, I haven’t heard that phrase “crying over spilt milk” too much these days, because we actually do cry over spilt milk and, yes, it does seem like a huge problem at the time.