Colorless Green Ideas Unintentionally Amusing In Person
Friday, December 20, 2002
I am waiting, waiting…
The gal at the store said she’d call as soon as it came in. It’s my boyfriend's Big Christmas Present, and although I made arrangements to get it a month ago, the manufacturer didn't send the order out until Tuesday. It’s coming from California from Portland, and it should be here today, but maybe not till Tuesday, we don’t know. I am waiting for the phone to ring, and it is adversely affecting my ability to concentrate on anything else.
This is a big deal, because this is something he doesn’t think I could possibly have gotten. If it doesn’t come today I will worry until it’s in my hands, and the store won’t be open again until Tuesday.
Tuesday. The day before Christmas.
I can’t stand the suspense!
But I can’t call the store again—I called yesterday.
I know it's my own fault for bringing it up, but...
the correct way to respond when a relatively-young co-worker happens to mention that she was once, very briefly married is not to squeal "You were married!?" over and over, getting louder and shriller each time.
This behavior does not help with the co-worker in question's extremely conflicted feelings (it's a terrible shameful thing I should never ever talk about...hey wait, why should I be ashamed of myself, it was a mistake, everyone makes mistakes, and no one was seriously damaged...oooh it's so embarassing...), should they happen to have extremely confilcted feelings on the subject (even many many years later).
In case you thought that that was the appropriate response.
The weekend went really well, in spite of the wreck on I-5 that forced us to sit in gridlock for an hour and a half outside Olympia, and the nearly two hour wait to get a table at the Jitterbug Café for brunch on Sunday. We visited people, we ate at some good places, and I found a great Christmas gift for my boyfriend’s mom.
My boyfriend saw his grandmother Saturday afternoon & I skipped out and did fun stuff by myself, which is arguably rotten of me. But one of the particularly good things about this weekend is that we talked about “Whether or not I have to be along for the ride every time he visits his family”, and the consensus is “No, I don’t have to if I don’t want to”, which really reduces the pressure on me. My boyfriend has regularly not come along on visits to my family, and weddings, and that sort of thing, if it’s something he’s not interested in, or people he doesn’t know (or doesn’t like), and yet somehow, even though I have always been fine with that (why should he go if he doesn’t know the people and doesn’t care? I’m a grown-up… I can go to weddings and family functions by myself) I have never allowed myself the same latitude. If he was going to visit his family, or see his grandmother, or whatever, I always felt like I had to go to—and not only did I have to go, I had to at least pretend that I liked it. Which is ridiculous. I have put huge amounts of effort into being Super Girlfriend over the years, spending disproportionate amounts of time and money on his family, and the ultimate end result is that I’ve burnt myself out. Now I get frustrated because everyone expects me to keep living up to this impossible standard. I’ve also been increasingly-ticked because his family absorbs cash and energy with no visible return, while, conversely, my family gives all the time, without expecting anything more than a “thank you”.
For example, my parents have been here to visit us at least half-a-dozen times since we moved to Portland 16 months ago, and every time they visit we get at least a free dinner. his mother has not visited once, and is only coming this Christmas because we spent over a month persuading her, and purchased the train tickets, and picked them up and delivered them to her by hand. It’s a side effect of this weird attitude that most of his family has—they’re all generous people who are occasionally really thoughtful, and, if they realize that you’ve done something nice for them they’re really grateful (and often horrified that you might have put yourself out). The problem is that usually they don’t notice, because they’re also absentminded and optimistic, and therefore expect things to work out, so it never occurs to them that things worked out because someone else (like me!) put in a lot of effort. My boyfriend is like this too, but as a result of years of reminders (“You’re welcome for doing the dishes,”—“Oh, did you do the dishes? Thank you!”) he has gotten better, and usually figures out when to say thank you without undue prompting. But his mom is totally oblivious, and his 16-year-old brother is much worse, because he’s oblivious and sixteen on top of it. And this creates a situation in which I feel obligated to be a hero and save everyone’s day, by making the reservation, or paying for dinner, or whatever, and no one thinks to say anything. And I’m sick of it. So the next time my boyfriend goes north on a visit, I’m going to stay home, and not spend my money to go and be bored on Lummi Island. Instead, I’m going to stay home and sleep in my own bed, and eat my own food, and not end up with a suitcase full of clothes that need to be washed because they smell like someone else’s house. And my boyfriend, thank goodness, thinks that that is a really good idea, because then I won’t be pissed off that I had to spend $200 to do something I didn’t want to do.
Not that we didn’t do anything that I wanted to do this weekend…