This week must be "Bizarre Social Interaction Week" and I didn't get the newsletter. Today I went out with a perky mom who, the more I get to know her, seems a little less perky and a little more depressed.
But enough about her, what about me?
I'm one of those people for whom "long lunches" were created: gastronomically interesting, short-term events which can be social, casual and finite. [Oh dear. That is an awfully large glass of wine you just poured, isn't it?] The emphasis is on finite for me; no lollygagging for hours, no aimless meandering, no "Well, jeez, what should we do now?" I want to get in, enjoy myself, and then get out with enough of my day intact that I can get at least one honest-to-god chore done. I want to have a great break in my day where I have a chance to feel all grown up and eat in public, pretending for a brief moment that I too am a member of society. And then I want it to be over.
But see, I'm polite, and I also understand that people have different styles and different needs. I'm good with that. [Goodness. I think you should slow down with the hooch there, little missy]. So today when I met this very (not-quite-as) perky mom for lunch and she seemed to need a little bit more socializing than me, I accommodated. We went shopping (vile, vile shopping), and then, because I'm a sucker and she still didn't seem satisfied in the social area, I invited her to my house.
I mean, it was a gesture, right? She's very sweet and clearly feels a little isolated and I don't know what the hell is going on with the father but the marriage seems a little chilly but I like her and she's great and plus we have all this stuff in common, blah blah blah, but it was getting late. I had gone out of my way to explain to her that it was lunch first and then off for grocery-shopping as soon I got the bun down for a nap.
So she came over [Don't you know to keep on neutral territory so you can always leave?] and there was much commiserating, and yadda-yadda, and the bun was wound like a top. I could not get him to sleep. And it was clearly stressing me out. So I kept feeding him, bobbling him, rocking him, repeating the cycle over and over. And my guest just kept guesting. Even at the point when I said, "Good god, I have to go grocery shopping, and he just won't sleep," she stayed, which to me, had I been the one guesting would have been my cue to leave. "Gosh, it sure has been fun, but I see you have your hands full, so I think we'll continue this another day."
But instead, at some point when it was clear that naps were off the table because the bun was defying me, she invited herself grocery shopping. Didn't need anything. Just wanted to come. And I, being confused and exasperated, didn't know how to say, "You know, you should probably go home while I deal with this hot cross bun and find myself dinner."
When we got to the store I had no idea what to buy. I explained to her, trying to drop this big ol' hint: "This is why it's no fun shopping with me. I just wander around the aisles confused for hours," to which she replied, "Oh, this what I do all the time."
What the hell can you say to that? I was trapped. The bun wasn't sleeping and I was with the mother for whom other peoples' grocery shopping was fun.
So I guess I bought some crap, although all I wanted at this point was a mile-high cocktail and perhaps a sedative for the bun. And then we went home.
This is where the story should end, right? I finally get home with groceries that weren't what I wanted at all, but bought under duress and confusion. We say, "It was great, have a nice evening, see you soon," and I go in the house to get the little monkey down for a nap, I make dinner, and all is right in the world.
But the bun FELL ASLEEP IN THE STROLLER TWENTY FEET FROM THE DOOR! So I'm standing outside with the mother, looking at this angelic bun who finally corked off measurable inches from our house, and I realize with a sinking feeling that I can't move him. I have to keep him in the stroller. And she realizes it too. She says, all-knowing and mom-like, "We should keep walking so that he stays asleep." It's the oldest sleeping-bun trick in the book. She knew she couldn't lose with this logic. I protest weakly, pleading that the groceries were going to go bad, but she of course suggests that I put them in the house since it's right there and we'll go grab a snack down the street. Defeated and resigned, I put the groceries in the house to continue The Lunch Date that Wouldn't Die.
Gawdalmightyjeesus, another walk. [That's alotta exercise, huh?] And then more eating. I ate an absurdly rich dessert at 5:30 in the afternoon, hoping that the chocolate high would make this all seem like a funny dream. And then she said, "I'll get a glass of wine after I feed her." Which meant, um, what. That I had to stay LONGER?
Finally, I put my foot down. Or something. Because of course the bun woke up crying and miserable, and I said, "Wow, look, it's been great, but I have to go home and take care of this now or we're going to have an all-night crisis of baby-sleep issues to deal with." And off we went.
Home, home, home sweet home.
Six hours, people. SIX HOURS!
Personally, I think that we should all live like Italians and take really long lunches and drink wine in the afternoon and enjoy life to the fullest, but six hours of anything is too much for me. Especially when it's six hours of someone I don't know very well and don't really understand, and suspect that I've secretly become this weird confidant for her and the strange marriage she's in.
Pour me another glass, barkeep.