Monday, January 30, 2012

Look in the Mirror--Please!

I was speaking to a friend a couple weeks ago and she told me, "I never make the same thing for dinner, that's how I express my creativity."
Really? I thought to myself, you're stuck in the seventies and are one of the least creative people I know.

Why is there such a disconnect between the way we view ourselves and the way others see us? Remember what you thought the first time you heard your voice played back to you? That couldn't possibly be what I sound like! Uh, yeah, that's kinda how you sound...and how you look in pictures? Well, pictures don't lie, maybe it's time to lay off the chips and maybe get a new hairstyle.

I remember the first time a friend described me to me. "Well, you know, you're kinda aloof."
"Me? I'm so friendly!"
"Hm, nah, but you're very nice once you get to know you."
Ouch. But I did see her point and have made great strides (I think) in keeping a smile pasted on my face. Oh, and we're still friends.

A week ago a matchmaker friend of mine held a mixer for singles in their early thirties in her home. She's quite successful, and a few of us joined her to act as facilitators. We mingled, pulled wallflowers into conversations and made introductions when people were looking awkward. Some of the men had game...others, not so much. It was a mob of of 150 singles, but all of us (married) assistant matchmakers noticed one guy. He was wearing a velvet blazer, and pants that fit very snugly. Instead of his full name on his nametag, he had the letter "Z." 

"Did you see...?" my friend asked. "Zorro?" I answered. Yup, you got the idea... and every woman there was interested in him.  
One woman was wearing a very short skirt and had long flowing blond tresses (Paris Hilton wants her hair extensions back)... and every guy wanted her.
"Did you see...?" my friend asked. "Lady Godiva?" I answered. This pair might as well had I'm not husband/wife material tattooed on their foreheads. I think they left together.

As the evening wound down, we did one final circuit of the room. My friend walked up to a nebbishy accountant, but super nice guy--perfect husband material. "Is there anyone here you haven't met? Can you pick out someone that I can introduce you to?" He pointed at Lady Godiva. "Listen, why don't you pick someone else?" He seemed bewildered, but after much prodding he selected a sweet dental hygienist with a toothy smile. "Great, stay right here, I'll bring her right over."

 I walked up to a nicely-dressed man who had seemed shy during the party...I wanted to be certain he had enjoyed himself. He assured me he had. "So, how about Sarah? She's a molecular biologist and visits sick people in the hospital on the weekends," I offered.
"Hm," he said, whipping out his BlackBerry. "Someone mentioned her to me...yes, here she is, Book 12."

"Excuse me, do that...did you download your little black book?" I stammered.
"Sure, what's wrong? She's not for me. But it was a nice thought."

At least I knew where I stood with "Z." 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

People I Hope We Said Good-bye to in 2011

No, this is not an "In Memoriam" posting, but rather the hope that certain people who make our days that much more challenging have taken a spaceship to mars--where all the annoying people should live in peaceful harmony.

The Energy Sappers:
This group possesses the unique ability to make every situation about them. You might be at a cocktail party, sharing an anecdote about your oppressive boss when this person hijacks the conversation and treats everyone within shouting distance to his unreasonable boss story. Any sentence you begin to say to this person (you're never actually allowed to finish your thought) has a direct correlation to an event in his life. He's an energy sapper because he shows you that you are not unique. Everything that has ever happened to you has already happened to him--only better. 

One level above this buffoon is the friend who has no idea that you too, have a family, a home, a life. She will never ask how you're doing--you simply serve as a warm-blooded listening device. If people like that would be satisfied with talking to a mirror (they're talking to themselves anyway), mars would already be full. 

The Energy Suckers:
This is a subcategory, but worthy of its own paragraph, and here's why. These people are recognizable from the moment they enter a room.  ALL of the attention,even if you have a legitimate reason for being the center of attention, i.e. you're the bride, immediately is drawn to them. Their dramatics and perfectly-honed self-centeredness make any pseudo-crisis of yours, i.e. your house was flooded by the latest hurricane and your insurance lapsed, play second fiddle to their missing out on the last good parking spot. 
An honorable mention goes to the shopper who commands all the attention from the salesperson that's supposed to be helping you because you've actually make the trip to the store, while the energy-sucker is literally calling it in.

The Person Who Can't Take No for an Answer:
When someone says to you they're not taking "No" for an answer you will either be flattered or annoyed depending on your own comfort level with the concept of insisting. 
Most of us weigh each social function that we're invited to carefully. Do we need to go? Do we want to go? Who are we insulting if don't go, is a busy week coming up, etc. There are factors that go into making the decision, an adult, considered decision. The person "'who isn't taking No for an answer" has exactly one consideration. They want you at their event and they will pressure you until they get their way.

You don't have a date? My cousin is in town for the wedding--she's single. You don't have a suit? Surely you can borrow one. Your car is in the shop? I'll get you a ride. Every excuse that's offered that seems as if its about to clear the net is lobbed back in a perfect arc that lands just in bounds. It's an exhausting volley between two unfairly matched opponents. They've been insisting for years, not taking a No under any circumstances and you've been livng your life careful to take others' feelings into account to a great enough degree that you've probably never insisted on anything, even something very important to you.  Actually, there's a small lesson to be learned there.

The Oblivious Person:
They have no idea they took up two parking spots.
They have no idea they're talking on their cell at the day spa.
They have no idea their shopping cart is blocking every single person trying to pass down the crowded aisle.
They are walking slowly in Times Square, on Fifth avenue, on Broadway.
They have no idea they're taking up two seats on the train, commuter bus, bench at The Met.
They have no idea we have no interest in their opinion, actually haven't even asked for it.
They never say thank you, just assume everything is coming their way.
The list is endless, feel free to add yours.

Let's keep our space program alive.