Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cornered

"I feel like I'm in a Seinfeld episode.....," I thought to myself.

Great clarity, yes, WWJD? What would Jerry do?

You know that odd couple that you USED to know a dozen years ago, the ones you managed to wriggle free from way back when, the ones you barely even recall? The ones you don't want to get fly-papered to again because it was so difficult to free yourself the first time?

Well, the dreaded moment happened. They found us! Innocently checking out at the counter were Tom and I, when I noticed them standing shoulder to shoulder next to me, checking out, too.

My mind began to plot, "Don't look. Don't look. Tom, talk quieter, egads, you are talking too loud, Tom, too much......Cherie, don't look at them, focus on the checker, on the CHECKER. Yeah, hold your breath, THAT'll help!"

"Helloooooo!!!" came that familiar nasally voice, with our name attached, horribly mispronounced.

"Oh HI!!" I gushed, fake smile hiding my desperation.

My little voice counseled, "Be nice, Cherie. Act genuine. Huh? ACT...GENUINE? I'm losing it....really losing it.....oh noooooo....not these two....think of an escape plan....come on......mental whack upside the head...THINK!"

But still, they followed us outside and talked. Just like old times. Yep, they talked, and talked, and talked, and told us all about their ungrateful, mixed-up kids, their dead relatives, their illnesses and aches and pains, all about their business, and their spiritual beliefs - that one went all over the place - and on and on.

I knew it was going to be bad when they divided and conquered us. The man manipulated Tom off to the side. The woman, close-talked me into a corner, quite literally. There was an 8 foot tall shrub brushing against my left arm, and my right shoulder was jammed into a wall. I was cornered like an animal, but I couldn't snarl. That wouldn't be polite.

So I listened, peppering her monologue with insincere uh-huhs, thinking to myself, "A close-talker. And she sounds like a stuck pig when she laughs, that high-pitched squeal followed by that throaty huh huh huh huh. I'm scared! I wonder how long it will be before she asks me a question, any question, about me, my life, my family? This will be interesting. Man, that shrub is prickly. I want to get out of here! Are my eyes bulging with fear? It feels like they are. My back is against this hard building. It's cold. How's Tom doing? Oh no, he has his hand over his mouth, his head is down, he is listening, too. We are weak....so weak......"

When I'd lean to the right to try to get out of the corner, she'd lunge in at me, her faded, wrinkled, threatening eyes popping, snaggly teeth grinning through overly stretched lips, her face just three inches away from mine, then she'd squeal that pig squeal. Still cornered!

Finally, she asked, "So, how are your kids?" I figured she didn't really want to know because she'd gone on about how awful her kids were, the sad situations of their lives, and how her family had been fractured. She was hoping my family would be equally torn and heartbroken.

I let her down easily. "They are all fine. I still have two kids at home, you remember."

She rolled her eyes as she muttered how that was too bad.

"Cassie is learning to drive and is ......."

"Oh no!! I'll avoid her when I'm on the road!!" Squeal, huh huh huh huh.

"...really a very capable driver, better than a lot of adults I know."

Rolling eyes. "Oh surrrrre!"

This continued with each tidbit I gave her about the kids, so I just stopped and smiled one of those close-mouthed, tight-lipped smiles, and glanced over at Tom to see how he was faring. Not much better. Piggy's husband had both hands in the side pockets of his little, khaki shorts, his chest was puffed up so high that his head was knocked back, nose in the air, and his mouth was wide-grinning to the point that his eyes were only slits. Tom? Still looking at his feet and nodding.

My glance away caused her to look away as well. Aha! My chance. I was able to slide my way out of the corner, walk over to Tom, mention that the girls would be wondering where we were, and we'd better get going.

"Okay. Well, good to see you again," said the man. "You look the same. Well, older, more wrinkles and more gray hair. " At this Piggy squealed and leaned forward.

"Are you still in the book?" she asked. "I'll call you. We have GOT to get together! I'll call you this week. Don't worry, I won't forget! It's just been TOO long."

Not long enough. Not at all long enough.

Gotta love caller I.D.

30 comments:

Deanna said...

That, snort, is just so well-expressed, snort, snort. I can so picture what you and Tom went through, huh huh huh huh.

Sorry! Couldn't resist. Glad you escaped and for caller ID. It really helps sometimes.

Did you go for any hikes?

Cherie said...

No, Deanna, weeeeeeeeee wee weeeeeeeeee haven't been on any hikes, yet, except in our minds.

Thanks for your piggish comment!

tshsmom said...

Hilarious!
I think everybody has removed themselves from couples like this. It took us YEARS to get rid of ours. Caller ID didn't work with them; they'd just show up on our doorstep. :(

Cherie said...

Talk about cornered, tshs!! Your doorstep. EEK! You know, as we were leaving, the husband in this story hollered, "Maybe we'll come over on our bikes someday!"

So, I may have to find another way to escape! You'll have to give me your secrets, should this come up.

I am afraid. Very afraid.

tshsmom said...

It would help if we could be more blunt and say: "We really don't have anything in common. Your lifestyle and attitude on life disgust me. Please go away!" Unfortunately, I'm too polite to say that. :(

We've found the trick is to not let them in the house. Go outside and visit with them.
The last time they showed up was last summer. L and I were painting the garage. We just kept painting, while answering their ridiculous questions.

sufferingsummer said...

ahh Chrie~ this is where my social awkwardness comes in handy. I tend to just say something appalling and usually completely inappropriate without thinking about it...mostly because I'm concentrating on some idiosyncratic behavior...such as the piggy snort...and so when I say, 'Your laugh is so much more distinctive than I remember it' it comes out all wrong and the person is generally flustered enough to end the conversation...I'm not so good at polite even when it is called for...I think you are a good woman to put up with that and save all the wonderfully laughable details for all us bloggy friends! Hope she doesn't hunt you down at home, if that happened to me, well let's just say it could get rather ugly!

sufferingsummer said...

* sorry Cherie....I was typing to fast and missed an e in your name....

sufferingsummer said...

ooops again, I must be tired...didn't mean to post a million repeat comments...time for bed:)

Cherie said...

You made me laugh, Summer! I wish you'd been with me the other day. I'll let you know if she hunts me down at home - maybe you can give me some pointers! Maybe if I squeal right back it'll repel her. Ha! Can you picture that? Good grief. Now I'D better go to bed.....thanks for commenting, Summer!

Leiselb said...

This is honestly one of the best posts I've read of yours....well written as usual but fantastically witty and gives great insight into the beauty of your unique and fun personality. I love it. I'm still snickering...

elixir said...

Oh this was too funny. What would Jerry do? Perhaps something along the lines of Summer's awkwardness, but on purpose.
Oh to not care. It is such a battle to break free of the socialized niceties when others are abusing your politeness!
I have started owning up to the fact that "this is really not a good time for me", because with an infant and a toddler, it is pretty much true whenever I need it to be. Maybe you should have more kids ;-)

Cherie said...

That means a lot coming from you Leisel, thanks. Glad it got you to snickering...... ;-)

M., a battle is right! Normally I function just fine in unpleasant circumstances and can wrap up a conversation pretty quickly and move along. But this woman, Piggy, well, it was just shocking - her unrelenting assertiveness, and me speechless. Bizarre.

As for more kids......hmmmmmm....... ;-)

Thanks for your comment, M.

Cherie said...

tshs: I've found that keeping them outside does help you are right about that. Once they are sitting in the living room blasting powder won't get them up and out. It's annoying, isn't it. I can picture you and and L painting away while they ramble on and on. Makes for lively pillow talk when the day is over, huh.

Ann said...

In my less insightful moments (& maybe my MORE self-absorbed--) I think that I'm the only person who feels cornered like you described. Thanks for not only a funny & beautifully written piece but also the reassurance I often need!

Cherie said...

You are most welcome, Ann. We are apparently not alone in our corneredaphobia. Thanks for sharing!

Sandy said...

I usually go for the "please don't feel as though you need to call me, I'm so busy anyway." I did that once to my neighbors and found out years later how mad they are at me.

I forgot to read the book, "How to win friends and influence people." Oh well. My phone stopped ringing anyway. Now I'm not sure what to do.

Good luck!

Wandering Coyote said...

Great post! I can't tell you how many times I've had to endure similar situations since I've come back to live here. It always kills me when people ask where I'm working. I have taken to answering: "I'm on sabbatical." People tend to ask less questions that way. Then there are always those well intentioned pleasantries and promises to call...which have not yet materialized. Thank God. I've now realized that I no longer need to worry about anyone calling me, and if they do, I have caller ID, too.

Cherie said...

Sandy, you made me laugh, too. I thought that was a very diplomatic line you used there, too bad the neighbors took it as they did. As you say, oh well. Funny how we all have similar experiences, and yet feel so isolated in them, until we begin to share. We are funny funny creatures. Thanks for your story!

WC, it must be a royal pain for you, returning home where there are so very many people who know you. Your line about being on sabbatical is good, too, very ethereal sounding. And you know the sneaky joy of caller ID, too. Too cool! Thanks for sharing your experiences, too!

Cecily said...

Hahahaha, I'm laughing hard after that one. Fantastic. Well. Not really. For you. But fantastic for us! Hilarious.

(I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks such unkind thoughts on the inside)

Still giggling.

Tehehe

Cherie said...

And now I'm smiling, Cecily, knowing you got a big laugh out of this story. Makes me feel good.

She still hasn't called - think I'm off the hook?

tshsmom said...

I KNEW it!! We ALL have people like that in our lives!
Now we all have to work at not feeling guilty about ditching them. ;)

Cherie said...

tshs, you made me laugh again! Maybe next time it happens to each of us, we'll remember this post and these comments and feel bouyed by knowing that we are not alone - and then, maybe try out some of these new lines.

:-)

Cecily said...

'I'll give you a call' or 'let's get together' usually means "I want to go back to the past and the way things were" or "I feel guilty for not keeping in touch, and if I say I will call I'll feel better." Usually there's a reason why we haven't called (or they haven't!) and it doesn't change with one 'chance' meeting. And as to going back to the past? Impossible! I guess I've become pragmatic, and I rarely swap addresses or phone numbers now - why burden myself with the guilt of never keeping in touch? And I have enough real friends in my life to sustain me without going back to old ones I couldn't be bothered keeping in touch with...

nah, I don't think they'll call. ;) (but I could be totally wrong! Let's just hope they don't blog! I have to be careful I don't tell people who I don't want reading happy chatter!)

btw... would you recognise their number?

Cherie said...

Amen, Cecily. Well put!

I am hoping you are right, that they will not call.

I'm pretty stingy with who I give my blog info to. I don't know how they'd ever find me. Like you, I don't tell people who I don't want reading my stuff.

About recognizing their number, our caller ID usually gives names, and if it doesn't, we decide if we recognize the number. If not, the machine gets it. Keeps away the junk calls.

I like what you said about having enough real friends in your life to sustain you without going back to old ones which didn't last anyway. Smart, smart lady, you are, Cecily. Thanks for your comments.

Bridget Jones said...

heh heh heh very well written, I could feel the terror....shorts? Ewwwwwww !

Cherie said...

You've got that right, BJ - ewww!

Thanks for coming by.

tshsmom said...

I gave you an award on my blog. Pass it on!

Cherie said...

Thanks, tshs! I shall pass it on.........

Lizza said...

Hey, Cherie, I'm still on vacation but I was able to bring up your
blog today. What a riot. Not for you while you endured your reunion, but for your really entertaining account of it.

It made me wonder why some people attach themselves to me even tho I have never been more than polite to them.

It's a quandry. To be loving and kind to all, "even the least of these" can't be done in our own strength. If we aren't truly moved to minister to such people, perhaps the simple truth would be more appropriate than tolerating them with our fake niceness.

There are people who send cards to me all the time and I have never responded, thinking that would discourage them. No luck.

I heartily agree with the above comments recommending dreaded house visits being confined to the outdoors only. No offer of coffee, etc.

Cherie said...

Hi Lizza!! So great to hear from you.

You are right - it is a quandry. Hard to discourage some people, and hard to not feel guilty when we try.

Oh well. Fortunately the times are normally few and far between.

Thanks so much for your comment. I've missed you. I'm glad you are still on vacation. Hope all is going well! Be safe.