Friday, November 16, 2007

Verbal diarrhea (or: how one thing leads to another)

Recently, on a not-so-good day, a work colleague asked me how F is. I don't know her terribly well.
'He's good, thanks' I managed.
'And how's school? Does he like it?'
'Oh, not really.'
'Oh. Why? Is it his teacher?'
'Yes. I hate her.'
'Oh. Is she a yeller, is she?'
'No, she's just a bitch.'
'Yes. The other day I screamed at her. She told me that he wasn't having an emotional week even though F was diagnosed with Asperger's. She rolled her eyes at me.'
I glanced up to see the work colleague, someone I have known vaguely, in a pleasant 'what are you reading now?' kind of a way, for three years or so, looking back at me in blank horror.

I'd said too much.

I'm not sure if I drifted off or she did.

But at least I had a bit of an excuse: I was distressed. I was having a shit few weeks. I was aware, that day, I didn't have my shit together.


Last night, at a work gathering, I got chatting to a newish colleague I've never met before. He's been there for months, but as I'm so incredibly rarely in the office, our paths had never crossed. He seemed nice. We fell fairly easily into one of those bantering chats about nothing much.

Someone asked if I wanted a sandwich. I politely demurred. Another colleague, a very close friend of many many years who I can say anything to, made a joke.
'You didn't see them being made?'
I laughed.
The new colleague raised an eyebrow.

'I have a thing about sandwiches' I admitted. 'I can't eat them unless I see them being made. Or if I make them myself. And I can't eat unmelted butter. There's probably butter in them.'
'Is it a trust thing?' asks New Colleague.
He knows someone who can't eat anything unless they see it being made, can't even have pre-mixed drinks, but is fine if the food/drink is prepared by someone they really trust.
'No. It's because I don't like it being soggy. At all. I have to make it in a special way, like with lettuce on the outside, protecting things like tomatoes from touching the bread and making it soggy. And that way I know it's fresh.'
'Ah.' He makes another joke about his friend.
'Oh, well, I can still one-up you on that' I said breezily, buoyed by approximately three sips of wine. 'My dad went through a stage where he couldn't eat anything that wasn't prepared by my mother.'
'Was it a trust thing?'
'No. I don't think so. He's just very fussy and said that he knew she knew how to make things just the way he liked them.'
'That must be a problem.'
'Oh no, it's not like that's all he ever ate. He sometimes ate out I guess, at places he knew he liked. It was just most of the time.'
'I think that sounds like a trust thing.'
'No. Once mum left him ingredients to make a pizza and he made it and then he threw it out because it didn't taste right. That can't have been trust. She chose the ingredients. And it was himself.'
'So it was his way of getting her to do everything for him?'
'I don't think that was it.'
'So he washed his own clothes and stuff?'
'Hmmm, no. Not really. Once, while my mum was in hospital, he woke my sister at 6am to ask how to use the washing machine.'
'He looks after himself fine now.'
'What happened?'
'Well, they separated.'
'So, that's how he got over it?'
'No. I think he just did somehow. I don't live in the same state as them, so I'm not sure what happened. I just went back for a visit and he wasn't doing that anymore.'
'So did he leave her or did she leave him?'
'Kinda both. I dunno. I guess they just grew apart. Or something.'

Pause. Silence.

'I'm going to get another drink' said New Colleague.

I turned to Longstanding Friend. We looked at each other.

'I think I just scared him away' I said. 'I have no idea how or why I just told him all that.'

We laugh. Longstanding Friends are a Very Good Thing. They know you are crazy and they love you anyway.

* NOTE: If you read this, sorry dad! It's not you, it's me. Really. I know you're now a whiz in the kitchen and with the washing machine.


elsewhere said...

You're beginning to sound like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally...

Ariel said...

Is it the food thing?

To be honest, I probably am a bit like that, though I have never faked an orgasm in public. And I'm very disorganised and messy outside of work.

eleanor bloom said...

I wouldn't be surprised if I started doing something similar lately, I'm so distracted and my thoughts so jumbled, anything could come out!

Let me tell you about it... *heh*

Anyway, as Dr Seuss said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

Ariel said...

Go on, tell me about it ... I'll feel less ridiculous.

Who knew Seuss was so wise? That's a good one. Yeah, the funny thing is I don't mind too much. Not for my sake, only for the sake of poor unsuspecting people I talk to.

red said...

Occasional commenter, dedicated reader here. Ariel, must tell you that I love your blog.

I've dipped into the crazy can at work recently (I blame overspill from two recent bereavements) and really relate to that sense of being off kilter.

Must say though, before you blame yerself too much, that new colleague seems a bit fixated on the 'trust thing'; probably says more about him than anyone else.

Ariel said...

Thanks red. That's so nice!

I'd say two recent bereavements is a more than apt reason for being off kilter. Hope you're starting to come out of it (or that you do soon).

Watershedd said...

New Colleague asked a lot of questions so he should have expected the answers. He didn't have to probe. His problem.

As for people who ask how you are/do you or your child like school/your job ... don't ask if you don't want and honest reply. Courtesy in greetings goes beyond pretending to be interested, it involves allowing the questioned to reply openly without being brushed off or ignored. Keep your open honesty, Ariel. The world would be a better place with more of it.

redcap said...

Ah ha ha ha! (The food thing, not the evil teacher thing. She still sucks and deserves to have her letterbox sauced.) I don't like soggy sangers either and I especially hate sandwiches with any sort of yellow spread. Butter is for toast and bread with nothing else on.

My embarrassing thing with new colleagues is having to admit to my nut allergy and that's why I can't eat whatever they're shoving in my face at the time (cake/dip/curry/etc.) They suddenly start looking at me like I'm a little insane and/or obsessive compulsive when I point out that I'm great mates with peanut butter and satays because peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts. "What?" Legumes. You know, like peas. You know, as in not tree nuts. "Trees have nuts?" Oh Christ. Here we go again...

Ariel said...

Watershedd, in a perfect world, that would indeed be the case. And yes, maybe he won't ask questions he doesn't want the answers to next time. He's okay, though. Just misdirected politeness.

Redcap: HOORAY! Thanks for sharing your food aversions. Love it. Though the allergy isn't odd at all, it sounds kinda unavoidable. I didn't know that people with nut allergies could have peanuts though. Wow, I've learnt something.

eleanor bloom said...

I tend to only use butter for the OUTSIDE of sandwiches myself - toasted sandwiches that is.

I also agree nothing soggy should be next to the bread. That's really just common sense!

Plus: you is tagged!