My friends occasionally like to hear certain stories over and over again. At least that’s what I tell myself as I see their eyes glazing over. I know deep down that look expresses profound “enjoyment” and is in no way an indication that their minds are racing as they try to think up a polite way to exit. The one I’m about to tell has received several (or two) requests. It’s the story about the time I gave another adult a mom-style countdown. You know, those countdowns you’d receive as a kid where the closer your mom got to that final number the more likely her head was to explode and the greater the chance that you were about to be grounded for life. There was usually the added guarantee that your father would be told and you’d be shamed in front of every single relative you’d ever counted as “living” on your family tree. I’ll explain in a bit, but first I need to set it up.
In my mind, this story happened earlier in the summer, but it looks like it actually happened a little over a year ago. Not that the day matters. The day was beautiful, John Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” had occurred earlier in the day and a group of us were gathered at a local spot for some pre-improv show food and drinks. I invited some friends we hadn’t seen in a while, my friend April, some improv folks and one of April’s friends who I used to work with back in the day. We’ll call him Craig.
I was the designated driver that evening. I mention this because it might partially explain why I was in a serious mood. It didn’t help that as I’ve grown older, I’ve become a lot less tolerant of things and I’m really quite prissy when pressed. Combine all of that with the fact that everyone around me was rapidly devolving on an evolutionary scale thanks to copious amounts of alcohol and were moments away from knuckle-walking in search of a spacious cave and scavenging for food. What that left them with was someone who wasn’t the most gracious or appreciative of designated drivers nursing an iced tea.
Craig arrived at our haunt with his rally sign proudly displayed and proceeded to plop down next to me in order to brag about his many life accomplishments which included a delightful tale about mocking a person with autism. Inside I began to growl as I listened and continued to sip on more iced tea. The mood of everyone at the table was brightening with each fresh margarita and mine was rapidly darkening with each tale of “look at me, I’m amazing! I abused someone with a mental handicap!! Aren’t I a paragon of humanity? Did I mention, my article was published? Perhaps I’ll read it to you. You would love that! You know, people all over were asking for pictures of me with my very clever sign. I’m sure I’ll be on several internet pages before the night is over! No, I’m not at all interested in anything about you. Please stop talking.”
At some point, I turned away to join the conversation my husband was having with our friends, which seemed like a much better deal. They were in the middle of telling a story about a mutual co-worker, Linda, when Craig, realizing he’d lost his captive audience of one, made a dramatically snarky remark along the lines of, “ohhhhhh, Linda!” I realized it was probably his way of letting us know we were being rude and excluding him so I attempted to catch him up to speed with, “Linda was their supervisor when they worked at…” and he cut me off with a snide, “oh, I really don’t care.” That’s when I lost my ability to be polite thanks to a lot of tea, enduring margarita giddiness and being subjected to a person who mistakenly thought his endless nattering was actually engaging. I held up my index finger, looked directly at him and in my best mom voice declared, “that’s ONE.” He laughed uncomfortably and stared.
We then made our way to the theater and despite being promised, “he doesn’t like improv” he tagged along. I felt betrayed. They said he’d go home! Of course, he stuck to my side and blathered away about how awesome he was. My patience was tanking, but I was alone since the rest of the gang were in tequila induced oblivion.
You’ve really reached a special place in my heart when I start describing you as “boorish” or a “dullard”, which were the words that immediately sprang to mind every time he spoke and since he never stopped speaking they were flashing like little neon signs. Unfortunately, he was attached to my hip and wouldn’t stop despite the fact that I was now visibly rolling my eyes at him. I’m certain several long dead Southern relatives rolled over in their graves in that moment. “What appalling cads raised such an uncivilized young lady? Surely, this came from YOUR side of the family!” When the show ended our group stood around discussing what we’d seen, reciting our favorite lines. His only contribution was an exceptionally graphic description of a physiological event that was occurring in his pants thanks to one of the actors he admired. Delightful. I was aghast and told him he was being inappropriate and crass. After a heated and very intellectual debate along the lines of “no, I’m not” “yes, you are” “no, I’m not” I clinched my teeth, held up my hand again and declared, “THAT IS TWO!” I’m not sure what would have happened had I gotten to three, but neither did he.and that caused him to finally shut-up and wander off to his car..
And that my friends is how I made Craig stop talking and why he isn’t allowed to come play with us anymore. My friends enjoy this story because it’s pretty uncharacteristic of me to snap especially in public. I’m more the quiet seething sort and I never give people countdowns (or count ups as the case may be) . Plus, Craig is really just one of those guys who has it coming. So, the very idea of quiet me actually breaking down to say something sends them into fits of giggles. You’re welcome, guys!