I want to thank you so much for sitting next to us at the end of the bar today. It’s usually not my favorite thing in the world when someone decides to saddle up next to me when there are literally no other people in the room. And I think what made your visit even more special was the fact that you decided to park it specifically two chairs beside me, as opposed to choosing to plop down next to the hubby (who would be happy to chat about absolutely anything). I’m really not sure what vibe I was putting out to make you think that I was mentally prepared for what you were inevitably going to present me but I’m sorry, you should have chosen him. But I guess you couldn’t have known that I don’t have the ability to engage in small talk easily and that I would rather (I swear) go in the back and wash dishes in the restaurant than talk to you. And, please, please understand that it is truly all me and not you.
See, I noticed that you didn’t have a phone (strike one), and that the bartender seemed to know who you were (strike two). I assumed it was probably your daily foray to the restaurant to be amongst the people and something you loved to do. I also spied you leaning back into your chair and darting your eyes around to find someone to talk to (like you didn’t already know who). (And, oh yeah, strike three—I WAS OUT.) I literally felt my spine stiffen and my heart start racing and I really didn’t like you from that first moment. You invaded my personal space, sir, and I was not one bit happy about it.
Now, I know that I had put myself in a vulnerable position by agreeing to sit at the bar in the first place, but sometimes I have to give in to the life partner and do what he wants. I had been avoiding the whole situation for at least a month and knew that it was time to throw a bone to the poor guy. Believe me when I tell you that he needs to have social contact with someone (anyone) daily in order to live (a grown man version of Tinkerbell, if you will). Every time he manages to convince me to belly up to the bar is a strengthening of our love to him, and a favor that he will have to pay back in the future to me. Marriage is a beautiful thing (and a time-honored tradition of quid pro quo).
There were no television sports channels to protect me from you today and I felt extremely betrayed. I may not be able to talk about most things at a moment’s notice (and sound even remotely intelligent) with strangers but I can always be counted on to give good sports face. And because of news channels (no, I will never start talking about ANYTHING presented from those) and looping videos of grown adults racking themselves while trying to do cool bike tricks, I had nothing to mentally prepare myself with. You took advantage of that, sir, and I was not cool with that at all.
In my panic, I looked to the bartender to help me out. But it was just not to be. I mean, for someone who was so damned helpful and visible before you got there, she sure did find something more important to do quite suddenly. But not on purpose (I think). She’s probably pretty cool and all, but she also gets paid to hang out with you on the daily. I wasn’t in that kind of position and I felt it keenly. This may sound like much ado about nothing, but I really was trying to keep away from you. It’s just that you were intent with your purpose and I (we) really didn’t stand a chance. The talk was coming no matter what.
But, thank you for the way you went about approaching me (okay, us). When you finally started to speak, your words weren’t given only to me. You spewed out your thoughts about the weather in a general way, like a farmer spreading out feed to her chickens. And the hubby bit (thank goodness)! You two started in on each other as if you were seasoned meteorologists and I was happy for it. Even though looking up the weather wasn’t something I felt I had to do on the regular, it was nice to know that the hubby had enough information for the both of us (and, let’s face it, it’s clutch to have someone with the knowledge to know it’s probably a good time to put on a jacket). But now you were talking over me. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
So, I nodded along with you both and inserted a word or two (in a good faith effort of participation) while stewing (when am I NOT stewing) about the volley of conversation passing across and through me. I leaned back so you could see each other and then I leaned forward when you decided to change positions and talk behind me. I probably would have asked to trade seats with the hubby but he was already happily ensconced behind his wall of beer and wings and I just didn’t want to make the effort (I’m horrible). And, except for that one (excruciating) thing, I was pretty comfortable with the situation. I wasn’t being encouraged to talk and I was able to keep eating my food (always a good thing).
The thing is, sir, you both began to talk to each other as if I wasn’t even there. The conversation became more substantial and instead of a small encounter sprinkled with a few bon mots, we began to head into actually get to know you stuff. Not what I was looking for in any way, shape or form. And that’s the hell of it all. I DIDN’T want to be there, but I also certainly DID. It was my lunch, with my husband, and you were hijacking it. You weren’t supposed to be having lunch together, we were. It didn’t seem to register that you might be interrupting something very special and important (you weren’t, but that’s beside the point). I needed to find a way to live with the situation and had to really lean into my defense. I had no choice but to talk to you.
I kept it light and smiley, I think (I’m glad no one was around to record it), and threw in all kinds of witty remarks (I’m sure). You seemed a little surprised at my insertion into the conversation but threw yourself into it with gusto. I’m sure that you were in your happy place (since your beer and food were there as well) and all was right with your world. The hubby was beaming and nudged me in the arm in acknowledgement of my effort. I was appreciative and also over it. So, as awesome as I was in perpetuating the small talk, I pulled double duty by acquiring the check and packing the leftovers away. (Not to brag, but I also managed to head off a beer refill for the hubby. Yay! Ten uncomfortable minutes saved.) We finally, and grudgingly (but not really), said our goodbyes and headed back out into our lives. The hubby was recharged and I was exhausted. Pretty par for the course.
So, this is why I’m taking time to compose this letter. I communicate so much better with written words and I actually have time to think about what I’m going to say. As much as I hated (literally) every second of our time together, I want to thank you. You were actually very nice and kind and interesting. Thank you for forcing me out of what makes me comfortable and goosing me into doing something different. I don’t expect that we’ll be becoming fast friends any time soon (since I don’t plan on ever setting foot in that place for a good long time) but I will keep this experience close to my heart so that I can use it to remind myself to make a better effort towards the next person that decides (for some reason) that they want to talk to me. I hope that you continue to have happy days and that the sun always shines on you! Now, forgive my abrupt closing, but I need to see the hubby about this—he’s not getting a letter.
© DRB 2021
Photo by Alexander Kovacs on Unsplash