The One About The Mutual Acquaintance With The *Maybe* Secret Life

FRIEND, WHO IS NOT A DRAMA QUEEN, is convinced that a mutual acquaintance of ours, let’s call her Maureen, has a secret life.

Friend, who lives closer to Maureen and communicates with her more frequently than I do, thinks that Maureen is up to something.  Something weird, that is.  Something that Maureen doesn’t want us to know about.

Friend, who enjoys ye olde Facebook, tells me that Maureen disappears for days, not responding to any form of contact and then when they do talk in person there are holes in the story– about who was there, when events happened.

EASY AS IT WOULD BE TO DISMISS Friend’s observations about Maureen, I’ve heard this story before, many years ago.  And in that situation, the suspicions turned out to be correct.

Back then, that mutual acquaintance was off doing some things in another town involving a new age-y cult-type group that mutual acquaintance didn’t want anyone to know about.

But eventually we did find out– and that was long before Facebook, a simple nosy way to lurk on the edges of someone’s life.  Which is, of course, what Friend is now doing as she tries to find out the truth about Maureen’s alleged secret life.

AND ME, WHAT AM I DOING ABOUT all of this?  Not one blessed thing except listening to Friend.

I figure that enough people tell me their secrets and concerns without any prompting, that I don’t need to go looking for more things to know about people than what they want to share with me directly.

Case in point… read the first sentence of this post.

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Question of the Day:
Have you ever wondered if a friend or acquaintance has a secret life?  And if so, did they?  Or do you still not know for sure?
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A Refreshing Conversation With An Older Gentleman Who Takes Life In Stride

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, Sometimes you’re the bug…” 

I was listening to an older acquaintance chuckle as he told me about a scam he’d gotten caught up in.  He understood what had happened and how it’d happened.

After some research and many phone calls, he’d extracted himself from the scam and was a few hundred dollars poorer because of it.

He told me that in retrospect he realized that the whole mess was less about him being stupid, than about the scam being slick and sophisticated, taking advantage of his trusting nature + his unfamiliarity with certain details.

No surprise there, eh?

But what struck me about this conversation, that was more like a monologue, was that this older gentleman telling me this story wasn’t bitter about what had happened.  There was not one ounce of “I’m a victim” or “I blame _____” going on with this guy.

Instead, he was telling his story as a cautionary tale.  All he needed was for someone to listen and understand his predicament– and for someone to tell him that he “done good” solving the problem himself.

All of which got me thinking…

When was the last time you were part of a conversation like this one?  SERIOUSLY, when did you last listen to someone who had been taken advantage of– and who wasn’t whining and emoting about the unfairness of it all?

Someone who was behaving like an adult who grasped the fact that in the rhythm of life not everything works out as planned– and that’s ok, too, because if you’re smart, you learn from it and move on.

Like this older gentleman did, in his quiet self-deprecating way.

Say What? Botox & The Fine Art Of Conversation

HERE’S A NEW-TO-ME PROBLEM…

I’m Botox-free, but have a micropeel at the skin care department of a doctor’s office every couple of months.  I started doing these peels about 15 years ago, on the advice of a doctor who told me they’d reduce my acne.

And they did.

Now I continue to have them because they keep my skin looking clear and healthy. Plus the peels kind of reduce wrinkles. Sort of.

I admit to being vain, to a point, so I’m not going to stop using them any time soon.

BUT HERE’S THE THING…

I’m beginning to interact with people in my real life who have availed themselves of the other services that this type of doctor’s practice provides.  That is to say lately various people who I know have wrinkle-free frozen faces that seem to be the result of using Botox.

I’m talking about people as young as their late 20s and as old as their late 60s whose faces suggest to me [or sometimes they tell me*] that Botox is part of their regular skin care routine.

To be clear here, I’m not writing this post to pass judgment on whether anyone who does this medically approved procedure is more, or less, beautiful because of it.

Do what you want, that’s cool by me.  Be pretty in your own way.

No, what I’m getting on about here is the fact that these people suddenly appear to be devoid of emotions.

AND IT’S THE DARNEDEST THING.

I’m an above average communicator with the ability to read people… if they give me something to read.  Yet I cannot, for certain, tell you if when speaking with these Botox-ed people if they understand what I’m saying, or asking.

There’s no emotion.  There’s no feedback.

And to be honest, as an introvert interacting with seemingly non-empathetic people who lack expressions, I feel more alone than usual.

And a little bit scared.

Because without some visual clue from a person about what’s going on within their mind, I’m left to parse their words to determine if what I said was, at least, heard– and then, possibly, understood.

I mean, suddenly I’m conversing with people who are most likely distracted, complicated, perhaps even not the clearest communicators to begin with– and now I have to guess what they’re feeling, too?

Groovy.  Just groovy.

* So are they confiding in me?  Or are they telling me I need Botox, but they don’t want to come out and say so?

Chatting Whilst Moving Wicker Furniture Up Stairs

“I’m probably maybe going to stain the porch floor again next summer.”

Zen-Den said this.

We were moving our wicker furniture into the screened-in porch, setting it up for warm weather.  This is the furniture that we’d put into the basement last fall when Riley, the neighbor dog introduced himself to us.

While I’m accustomed to the way lawyers speak, obfuscating to not commit themselves to anything specific, the above sentence was unique.

Even by husband lawyer-speak standards.

His lack of enthusiasm about what might need to be done made me laugh out loud.

 • • •

“Could you get anymore vague and non-committal?”

I said this, lamenting that he was being so indecisive.

To which, I kid you not, he stopped in place while we were carrying furniture up the stairs.  He needed to contemplate if there was a way of making even less of a verbal pledge about doing something.

At an unspecified later date.

Next year.

Leaving me standing there on the bottom step, holding up the back end of the wicker loveseat while wondering why I never learn that snarky comments get me into the most awkward situations.

Honestly… 🙄

{ Images via Sweet Clip Art }

Thinking About Opinions While In The Presence Of Sharp Pointy Things

{ Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw via Unsplash }

# # #

Just because something happens, and I am aware of it, doesn’t mean that I have anything to say about it.  Or that I will change my behavior because of it.

I got thinking about this idea the other day when I went to the doctor’s office.  After a brief wait in the waiting room a nurse called me back to the examining rooms.  As we walked along she asked me what I’d done over the weekend.

Basic chit-chat as I got settled into the room, ‘ya know?

Or so I thought.

I told her that we’d gone to a college hockey game.  I was starting to elaborate when she interrupted me with a tirade against the university whose team we’d seen play.

# # #

Her, shocked: DIDN’T YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE DRUGS ON THAT CAMPUS?

Me, mild-mannered: Uh, no… well, yes… it’s a college campus…

Her, outraged: DIDN’T YOU SEE ON THE NEWS THAT THERE WERE RAPES ON THAT CAMPUS?

Me, contrite: Uh, yes I did… not good…

Her, empowered: DIDN’T YOU KNOW THAT MY SON WOULD NOT GO THERE BECAUSE IT WAS A PARTY SCHOOL AND HE DIDN’T FEEL LIKE HE’D BE SAFE THERE?

Me, polite: Uh, no… didn’t know your son considered it, but if he didn’t feel like he’d be safe there then I’m glad he didn’t go there…

Her, demanding: WHY WOULD YOU GO TO A GAME THERE?

Me, quietly: Because it was for work… and it was free… and we had a fun time…

# # #

Now clearly I hit a nerve with this woman.  And as you, my gentle readers, can tell, I answered her questions as accurately as I could, considering that she had at her disposal sharp pointy and pokey things that she could use, while upset, to inadvertently hurt me.

I’m not a fool.

But this conversation, such as it was, did give me pause.  It got me thinking about how I now live in a society where everyone seems to have strong opinions about many things, and you never know what topics are going to set somebody off.  

[See conversation above.]

I also realized that, ironically, I have to admit that I have no opinion about all the people with all the opinions.  Say what you will, think what you want.  Live and let live, you know?

Just don’t hurt me in the process.  That’s all I ask.

Taunts & Tears: In Which I Wonder About Humanity Whilst Shopping

“Do you want $13.47?”

That’s the first thing she said to me.

I told her “no” and explained that I had money.

I was in Best Buy in an upscale part of town and after a long wait in line I’d finally made it to the cashier, a pleasant efficient girl, a bit on the plain Jane side, probably college age– totally confused about what to do next.

“But what do I do with it?” 

She was holding the change from the transaction that had just taken place in front of me when two Kardashian-esque high school kids had purchased some candy with a twenty-dollar bill– and refused to take their change.

“I tried to give them the $13.47 back, but they wouldn’t take it.  They told me to keep the change.  But it’s theirs, not mine.”

I’d been watching and listening to these kids directly in front of me while standing in line.  I knew them for what they were.  Troublemakers.  Snotty rich kids wasting Daddy’s money.  Pointing at the cashier, snickering about her looks.

“But what do I do with the money? It’s not mine.”

As if on cue, we heard a car engine outside the front window of the store and turned to see the two high school kids in a convertible Mercedes, top down, driving by the window laughing and waving at us.

With that my cashier began to cry.  Somehow being mocked by these two had really gotten to her.

So there I stood, waiting for the tears to stop and for her to look at me.  When she did, still sniffling, I answered her question about what she should do.  I said:

You’re ok.  You did everything right.  This is not your fault, no one is going to blame you.  After your shift when you turn in your till tonight you explain that there’s $13.47 too much in there because some rich idiotic spoiled kids wouldn’t take their change.  You’re ok.  This is not your fault, no one is going to blame you.

And you know what?  My words calmed her down so that she stopped sniffling, rang up my sale– and was back to her cheerful self quietly saying her newfound mantra.

“I’m ok.  This is not my fault.  No one’s going to blame me.”

In Which I Listen With The Intent Of Exiting The Scene As Soon As Possible

I HAPPENED TO SEE AN ACQUAINTANCE WHO, after a polite “hello,” launched into a long story about something in her life.

Acquaintance, who is living in the River of Denial, started the conversation, which was really more of a soliloquy, with the words “I’m not a _________, but…” and then went on to tell me about her thoughts and actions that from an objective point of view would say that she is a _________.

“Ain’t it the truth? Ain’t it the truth?”

WHILE I ENJOYED THE THEATRICAL UNHINGED WAY in which she rationalized her behavior, I began to ponder, if given the opportunity, what I was going to say to this woman who, without getting into any of the specifics, I’ll describe as a wackadoodle who needs to see a therapist.

However, being the grown-up that I am I chose to say nothing and remain quiet, listening to her and nodding my head in a supportive way, like an extra on stage behind the lead actor.

As one does, even.

EVENTUALLY ACQUAINTANCE FINISHED TELLING ME HER STORY, and me being me, I said the first thing that floated into my mind.  I let her know that I understood what she’d been yammering on about by saying Snagglepuss‘s immortal catchphrase: “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”

And that, kids, seemed to be all that she needed to hear me say to her, thus giving me my opportunity to gracefully walk away from this absurd conversation.

“Exit, stage left.”