I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Circle Supper

Today I was explaining to an ICE officer some aspects of my client's case that were not very flattering to myself and he praised my honesty. I am often praised for my honesty, which to me is a little like praising a recovering alcoholic for being abstemious.

Because the thing is I'm a pathetic liar. By which I mean, both, my lying makes me pathetic and also I'm pathetic at the business of lying. Bathetic. I've had some experiences in my life where I've panicked and lied and the lie grew into something hideous and destructive. There was wailing, lamentations...

So recently I have been trying really hard not to lie. Like not even little white lies. Not the mere abstinence, but really trying to be aware of when I'm saying something just out of momentum or going with the crowd or because I feel the need to explain myself. To keep me on the straight and narrow, sure, but also out of pride. I fancy myself a wordsmith. As such, I feel that even the most quotidian contents of my cranium, if I can just transmit them unadulterated straight into my listener's head, are worthy.

This battle rages in my head alone. I am aware that the nuances I obsess over are completely trivial to everyone else. To give an example of my struggle, at the church they're doing this "visioning the future" thing that involves a lot of making lists on giant pads of sticky paper and putting colored dots on them. I hate that stuff. Hate. that. stuff. And a bunch of different people approached me about it, like, hey, I know you'll be there. Nope, sorry, says I. I have this thing.

And I did have a thing. But I still came away cursing what would it hurt for me to say Nah, can't stand that stuff. Hit me up for the pledge drive or something. So, after a couple of encounters like this I was really annoyed at myself and this brutal truth resolution was much on my mind. So, of course I was brutally honest the next chance I got, with repercussions most Seinfeldian.

See, the church puts together these "circle suppers" which are groups of members who take turns hosting that month's potluck. This ends up being more complicated than you'd think, because for some unfathomable reason, it's not the same people. The people rotate. Somebody's got the master list. Seems like chaos to me, but we haven't minded because whether through chance or orchestration we've always ended up with out favorite couple, Linda and Ann.

There are many other wonderful people -- don't get me wrong. But if it were just them and us in the kitchen, that would already be a party. The rest is gravy. Anyway...

So this month's there were going to be slim pickin's because everyone was going to this retreat. So they just sent this e-solicitation around asking did maybe just one person want to host the stragglers. This lovely woman L stepped up and we were all to send our names to her. I put Beloved's and my name in to her, thinking, if I thought about it at all, that the kids were implied. Well, come time to firm up plans and and she said oh, she wasn't really planning on children, which is of course perfectly reasonable. So I said oh, then thanks very much for the offer, but I think we won't come after all. I mean, I could have said "can't come," and that would have felt different, maybe, but I deliberately said won't, on account of my resolution.

Not said, though. E-mailed. Which is where the problem started. When I dashed off the e-mail, it sounded like the perfect balance of gracious but mercifully final. Like, so great of you to offer, but don't mind us. We're good. But in e-form I think it just came off terse.

So then L e-mailed back how did she, who had, after all, been a school teacher, end up sounding like a Sun City resident, and, really, the kids are welcome some other time. Well then I wrote back something about how I don't question her kid cred, and sure, that would be nice, but don't go to any bother. Then she, no really, and I, no really. Thus ensued a whole back-and-forth of proposals and counter-proposals, which sort of fizzled out.

Lots of people aren't set up to host kids. It's all good. Meanwhile, we made plans with Linda and Ann for that night.

Well, she's had a cancellation, so she came up to me after choir and asked in a most solemn voice, if we would please do her the honor of coming after all. Well, what am I going to say? She is such a lovely person and this is such unfinished business. Yes, of course, we'd love to. So then, sorry, Linda and Ann, how about Sunday?


Jen said...

I loved your story. I found it by googling Circle Supper, as I just received my list of participants and we are hosting our first supper, and I'm looking for inspiration.

I thought your response was very polite, and the ensuing interactions are worthy of a chapter in Miss Manners next book. Hysterical! Thanks for the chuckle.

My partner and I are in fact hosting an "intergenerational" supper, since we have 2 kids. Speaking of linguistics, why do UUs take a perfectly good word like FAMILY, and replace it with something complicated like INTERGENERATIONAL GATHERINGS.

Anyway, thanks again for the chuckle.


Astrodon Johnstoni said...

Why indeed, Jen. Have a good intergenerational time.