Dances with Dinosaurs

With an entire week of ass-numbing meetings in a generic big city conference room, i’m paying the karmic price for the occasional cushy business trips.  In general, i enjoy my travel mates, and have had a good time drinking hanging out with a few old friends in town.

But there is this one guy who can geolocate my last nerve, and pounce upon it like a kitten on speed.  In fact, it is the gentleman responsible for the attempted smear campaign from a few months back. 

A quasi-functional dinosaur, he has led the campaign to “protect and defend” the interests of the division that has been shut down.  They will be either moving to the home office in 10 months, retiring, or finding alternate jobs. 

About a decade ago, he and i ran with the same pack of conference party dawgs, although it only took a few years for me to figure out that he was a shit weasel – and i put up distance.     What pisses me off most about this oxygen thief?  To my face, he is disgusting in his sweetness.

Yesterday, during a break in the meetings, i was in discussion by the coffee urn with two colleagues – who happened to be female.  When Dinosaur McSoon-Fired approached us, he smiled ever-so-sweetly…

dinosaur:  Well, isn’t that frightening?  I’m always nervous when the women are ganging up on us.

daisyfae:  You know?  Any man frightened by strong women needs to go home and take a good long look in the mirror and wonder why he’s such a big damn chicken.  From my point of view?  Makes a great filter – i got no use for wimps.

He fumbled for a comeback, failed to find one, and shuffled past us to the little dinosaurs room.  Perhaps to look in the mirror.

The other two women?  They were both sporting saucer eyes, and remained speechless.

daisyfae:  Look, i’ve been dealing with this crap from him for over ten years.  He asked for it…

And so that’s where we left it – tomorrow morning is the final cage match.  Showdown at the Not-Really-OK Conference Room. 

Bring it, you shriveled, pathetic sackless waste of carbon…  Asteroid daisyfae is about to drop some galactic whupass in your lap.

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What he missed…

Dad died in April, 2002.  Or maybe it was 2001?  No, definitely 2002 because i remember talking with him about the attacks on September 11th.   It does require thought now to pin down the dates because i have started to lose lock on those sorts of details.  i don’t think it means i’ve stopped missing him, just that it was a pretty long time ago – and maybe my memory is starting to go.

The latest family scuffle got me thinking about all of the things that Dad didn’t get to see because he was the first one to check out of the Trailer Park.

– LC, my niece DQ’s first husband disappearing with half his gun collection after leaving a rather threatening note.  Dad also missed the arrest, trial and four years of jail time that LC served for the crime that triggered his sudden departure.  That was a good bit of trailer park drama.  At the time of Dad’s death, he considered LC as his son, and greatly appreciated how hard he worked to take care of the house for him and Mom.

– My divorce in 2006.  At the time of Dad’s death, EJR (my ex) had moved to our vacation place, had started his own consulting business, and only came home when i was scheduled to travel – but we were still married.  Dad liked EJR from the first time i brought him home.  i was 19, EJR was 26.  We were visiting so i could tell my parents that i was moving in with EJR, and that i would no longer need (or accept) financial support from them for my schooling.  When Dad died, he and i were the only two members of our family who had not been divorced*.  Ooops.

– Mom’s bypass surgery.  Other than a brief hospitalization for pneumonia (while Dad was going through chemo), Mom had generally had no health problems until after he died.  Which is pretty amazing considering her diet of processed food, gravy, salt, potato chips and ice cream.

– Grandchildren graduating from high school.  My daughter graduated in 2004.  Despite the fact that there are four older grandchildren (DQ, her step-sister JS, and the two oldest daughters of my brother), none of them had actually managed to attend a high school commencement ceremony.  All of them eventually completed high school, through either correspondence or equivalency degree.  Mom went to The Girl’s ceremony, though.  And when The Boy graduated in 2007?  The only reason he participated in the ceremony was for Mom. 

– The least-athletic child he had completing a half-marathon.  That’d be me.  My feet are still pissed off about that…

– My sister, T’s, selection as Dean of the Graduate School at her university.  As much as Dad valued education?  i think he’d have been proud.  Mom and the rest of the family don’t know enough about academia to appreciate the achievement.

– The Girl (aka “Danger Monkey) and her world travels.  She started with her ‘sailing around the world’ adventure in 2007, followed by a stint in Morocco in 2008 and her semester in Beirut, Lebanon last year.  He’d have enjoyed her travel tales.

– DQ’s “wild phase” and subsequent marriage to an 18 year old, BJ.  DQ was in her early 30’s at the time.  Before BJ, she dated a 300 pound high school senior who only stopped beating DQ up when Mom intervened.  But the marriage to BJ has been ok.  So far.  He’s a good human being, just has bad taste in women**.

– My sister, S, dealing with a pesky breast cancer nugget.  Oh, yeah.  Me, too a few years later. 

– After 3 packs a day for over 60 years, Mom quit smoking a month before bypass surgery in 2008.  Dad quit cold-turkey shortly after the U.S. Surgeon General changed the warning on cigarette packages from “Smoking may be hazardous to your health” to “Smoking is hazardous to your health” – some time in the 1970’s.  He never complained about Mom’s smoking, though.  He’d have been happy that she quit. 

There’s more.  More than i can cough up while sitting at my gate at the airport, waiting to catch another flight.  Sure.  There were some good things.  Things he’d have enjoyed.  Moments of fun.  i certainly would have appreciated his counsel over the last few years.  

But i don’t know…  The more i think about it, maybe he checked out at a pretty good time…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Even my lesbitarian sister had a short ‘starter-marriage’.  She married a Palestinian taxi driver she met in San Francisco after knowing him about 3 months.  Somewhere around the height of the first Gulf War.

** i say the same thing about my ex-husband.

Hardware Follies

Running errands all morning, one of my stops was at the mega-hardware store for some plants and a tube of caulk to repair my bathtub.  Wandering into the paint section, i was approached by a sexy, tattooed salesman*, asking if i needed help…

daisyfae:  Of course, i need help.  i need to replace the caulk around my bathtub.  i did it a year ago, but apparently used the wrong shit because it’s cracked already.

PaintMan [walking me down the caulk aisle]:  Well, here are the waterproof caulks.  There’s some of the expensive stuff that sets in 2 hours if you need that…

daisyfae:  Nah, just the regular shit i guess.

PaintMan:  Had an Asian couple in here a few weeks back looking for caulk.  Guess it was the accent, but she said  “I’m looking for cock”…  It was hard to keep a straight face, but I said “How much do you need, Ma’am”.

daisyfae [laughing, and looking back at wall of caulk]:  That’s a riot!  Ok, so what kind should i get?  i don’t need the quick set stuff…

i started to reach for a tube of the regular looking caulk, but noticed that there were different colors, and i’d grabbed one that wasn’t white.

daisyfae:  Wait, i don’t want the black cock…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*  It was the same guy from almost two years ago who sold me the pink e-fucking-namel primer for my deck.  And he’s still got the tattoos and is still just as charming…

Trailer Park Puppetry

Things in The Park have been going well.  Mom was almost happy last weekend when we talked – excited to have finally been taken to the library, where she can get ‘books on tape’.  Renovations to Mom’s house are well underway, and on schedule.

Due to the absence of naturally occurring drama my sister, S, apparently needed to create some.  And she has…

i was two time zones away on Monday night, settling into my hotel on the front end of a business trip, when i got the call from my bipolar lesbian sister, T.  This is the sister who has deliberately removed herself from the family as it causes disruption to her brain chemistry.  She asked my assistance in dislodging herself from the rafters due to the latest round of “Let’s Make A Drama”.

It started a couple months ago, with the “Child With Nail Gun” facebook squabble.  Seems my sister, S, is angry with T for “being mean” to S’s daughter, DQ.  Deciding to “get some answers”, S sent T several e-mails.  T ignored them, except to write back telling S to stop using her work e-mail address for personal messages.

Oh, for context:  S is 57 years old and the senior IT professional at a large law firm.  T, with her PhD in business, is turning 49 this year.  It’s entirely possible that they could have been mistaken for two schoolgirls, with no manners and extreme self-absorption issues.

Two hours on the phone with T.   Some highlights – italicized words represent the voices in my head.

T: These people make me crazy!  My professional colleagues are on facebook!  I can’t let them see this stupid redneck shit.  Did I do the wrong thing?  They’re firing people down here – I don’t know if I’ll have a job after June!  I don’t need this bullshit!

daisyfae: No, i completely understand.  You have to do what is best for you.  i’d do the same thing in your situation.

In fact, i am quite jealous that i am unable to do the same thing… fucking deathbed promises…

T: Do they realize I’m never coming to visit?  Does Mom know that her choice to live with DQ means she’ll never see me again?

daisyfae:  Probably not.  But what would be the point in telling them?  Just call Mom every few weeks and stay in touch.  No point in feeding the drama and causing Mom pain…

Please don’t tell them.  Makes it far more fun to watch this way…

T: I won’t come home for Mom’s funeral.  If I saw DQ’s fucking alligator tears, while she sits on her fat ass in the house she stole from Mom, I’d go nuts!  Unless you need me.  I’d come home for the funeral if you need me there.  Do you want me there?

daisyfae: i’ll be fine.  Stay away if you need to.

No.  Please.  Seriously,  i’ll have plenty of other people gnawing on my brain once Mom checks out.  i’ll bag up any leftover brain nuggets and ship them to you so you won’t feel left out…  Oh, and by the way?  She’s not quite dead yet.

And it went on and on…  i reminded T that Mom made this choice, and that i have no issue with DQ getting the house – so long as the money doesn’t run out before Mom dies.  I finally told her that i was certain to hear from S soon, and assured her that i’d pinch off this small, brown and smelly loaf in the punchbowl before it blossoms into a full-blown turd…

As predicted, sister S called me first thing Tuesday morning, leaving her trademarked melodramatic “I need to talk to you” voicemail.  With a full day of meetings, i didn’t have a chance to call her back until i nestled into a comfy booth at the airport bar late in the afternoon.  Ninety minutes on the phone with S… fortunately accompanied by several treatments from the good Dr. Daniels to ease the pain.

S: I’m really pissed off!  T has ignored my calls and e-mails.  She’s pissed off at DQ and I just want some answers…

daisyfae: There are no answers.  T has bipolar disorder.  None of us will ever be able to fully understand what that’s like… Nor will we ever be able to really understand the issues.  It is a medical condition, and she has overcome tremendous obstacles – there are people with less severe cases who are on disability.

And you, dear sister, have a raging case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But you cope pretty well, too…

S: T doesn’t do anything to help Mom, and she doesn’t understand that it’s no picnic for DQ taking care of her every day.   I want to know what her problem is with DQ!

daisyfae: What is it you want to happen here?  Do you really want T to come home and visit?  Have you forgotten how much fun it was the last time T came home to “help”?  Why are you poking her with the Pit Bull Teasing stick?  She’s under pressure about her job, and this is a really bad time to be trying to get answers.  Best to leave her alone.  It will change nothing.

That’s right.  You get her all riled up and make her come home to “help”? This time YOU can deal with the mess.  i had to be physically restrained to keep from pounding her into PhD-dust on one of her prior “helpful” visits…  Where’s my fucking waiter?  This drink is not refilling itself…

S: But what did DQ do to T?  Why is she mad?  Somebody needs to tell me what’s going on…  I can’t believe she de-friended her on “facebook” – i can’t believe how childish she is!

daisyfae: Well, hmmm… The level of childish behavior seems a bit high…  but you can’t let this bother you.  T has had issues with DQ for a long time – she thinks DQ is taking advantage of Mom, and there is nothing anyone can say or do to change that.  She doesn’t understand how hard it is to take care of Mom, and won’t listen when i try to explain.  Why try to fix it?  Will any of this make Mom’s life better?

OMFG?!?!  Really?  REALLY?!?!  De-friended?  FML!  Why can’t they all de-friend ME?   My glass is empty again.  Where’s that waiter…

S:  We need to talk more – this really helps me.  You’re a good therapist!  I should just concentrate on what I can do for Mom and not worry about anyone else.

daisyfae: Gotta get going – think my flight is being called.

But more importantly, my glass is empty again…

Managed to make it to my gate at the airport with about an hour to spare – unable to sleep on an uncomfortable Airbus 320 with seats designed to torment 5’6″ tall humans.  Message traffic today from both camps which basically say the same thing – “Thanks for being there! We need to get together soon!”

Given the option?  Puppeteer is a much easier job than Referee….

Unvarnished and Frightening Truth

As i made my way to the office sign out board this afternoon to signify my departure for yet another roadtrip, i shuffled like an old woman.  i even groaned when i picked up the tiny marker, mounted above the board. 

My division chief enquired as to my damages…

daisyfae:  The gym kicked my ass again today.  Pulled something in my upper back and shoulders, so i switched to a lower body bashing.  i just hurt…

DivChief:  You can’t just do anything like a normal person, can you?  It’s all or nothing…

daisyfae:  It’s just that i want to be able to add “Chin Ups” to the list of tricks i can do to win bar bets.  i can already do at least 40 push-ups on my toes.  Nobody ever expects a lumpy middle-aged chick to be able to do that…

DivChief:  Jesus, woman!  You already scare 99% of us!  You’re going for the other 1%?  Do you understand the concept of diminishing returns?

There was a brief silence as the DivChief and my Admin Assistant (also a man) exchanged that universally understood male facial expression that says “Oh, fuck.  I’ve just gone up shit creek without even a turd for a paddle…”

daisyfae: [busts out laughing]

DivChief:  [breathing sigh of relief] You know, I meant that in the most respectful way possible…

daisyfae: [lumbering slowly on stiff legs towards door, still laughing] Of course you did…

Variation on a Theme

“Women’s League”

For me, those two words conjure up a messy pile of ambivalence.  “Do-ers of Good Deeds” is at the top of the list, alongside “Toxic Estrogen-Fueled Politics”.  Because of the former, i am willing to spend an afternoon dealing with exposure to the latter, and attend the local Women’s League Annual Luncheon.

Never mind that my friend DK could ask me to lie on a bed of broken glass while having ‘relations’ with Bea Arthur’s decomposing penis for a good cause, and i’d think about it.  She has that power…

Having attended last year, i had a better idea of how to prepare for the event this year.  Themed luncheon, raising money for scholarships through raffles of cleverly prepared and donated baskets.  No bar.  Short entertainment program, along with a tiny bit of self-congratulation and effusive thanking.  No bar.

Last year, i packed in a flask of whiskey, only to discover that the choices for drinks were water, iced tea and coffee.  This year?  The bar was enhanced to compliment the choices offered…

That is a shot of my purse.  Left to right – flask of whisky, Kahlua, Bailey’s and Godiva liquers, large water bottle carrying a mixture of raspberry vodka, apple schnapps, triple sec, sour mix and a splash of cranberry juice.  To those who said i learned nothing from my brief stint in the Girl Scouts?  Bite me.  i was prepared.

Since i shared from the flask last year with a couple of local politicians, the gents had asked DK prior to the luncheon if i would be as prepared this year.   When the politicos seek you out for gentle debauchery at a Women’s League luncheon, you have achieved…. well, i’m not sure.  But i felt special.

Throughout the luncheon, the two of them would stop by, leave a half-empty glass of iced tea on my table and say “could you watch my drink?  I’ll be right back…”.  Returning to a tasty modification, they each pulled this trick a couple times.  My friend the Judge Wannabe was at their table.  When i explained the “offerings” he vaporized in a flash.  One of the elder-politicians simply said “He’s campaigning.  Needs to be more careful.”

So we slurped our way through the speeches, the entertainment (“and now, my daughter Felicia will play the recorder for you”), and enjoyed lunch with friends at the table.  The main event, however, is the basket raffle.  About forty baskets full of themed goodies – everything from “Spa Treatments” and “Gourmet Delights”, to “Family Game Night” and “Grandma’s Play Date”. 

Since it’s for a good cause, i dumped a bit of scratch on raffle tickets.  Having won a lovely wine bucket, with champagne, last year, i was  not screwing around with “Manicure Basket” and “Garden Goodies”.  Oh, no.  Of the forty baskets, only two had multiple bottles of wine… 

All of the baskets were lovingly prepared and donated.  People expended time and resources to create these.  Clearly, some were far more popular than others – and you could see women dropping “sympathy tickets” into some of the more lame baskets, so the creator wouldn’t feel slighted.

Fuck that.  The two wine baskets each got about half of my tickets….

WIN!  “Wines From (Almost) Every Continent” is now resting comfortably on my dining room table.  i may be a lush, but i understand probability and statistics…

It’s always something…

My immediate supervisor is a black woman engineer – known in some circles as a “unicorn” because of the rarity of the breed.  Last year about this time, she was recruiting me to be her technical advisor.  There was a big smelly program lurking, and i had sufficient experience and credentials to get it done… plus, i was looking for something new.

JT:  One of my side goals?  To create the most diverse branch in the entire organization.

daisyfae:  Wrong goal.  You need to create the best branch in the organization that happens to look like a fucking rainbow.

JT:  Yep.  Let’s do it…

Well, about three months into the job, i realized that while JT was off recruiting the best and brightest, the other branches in the division had unloaded their most worthless and troubled employees into her branch.  We now have a mixture of “young, enthusiastic and bright” combined with “broken, toxic and incompetent”.  Ain’t happening anytime soon…

Good thing i believe firmly in the concept of ‘Goal Modification’, or i’d be cutting myself on a daily basis.

The one that really got me this week is SR.  He happens to be an occasionally sharp PhD engineer, who also happens to be black.  Rather than spend his time on his actual work, though, he has spent it in the realm of ‘self promotion’ – spending his time traveling, giving presentations covering the work of other scientists, and nominating himself for every award imaginable.  Prior organizations tried to correct his behavior, but he was quick with filing a grievance, so the white male engineering managers generally backed down.

Not JT.  After SR was parked in her group, she established a position of “Zero Bullshit Tolerance”.  That didn’t work well for SR’s continued efforts to self-promote.  JT was direct and relentless in her pursuit of performance improvement – and as a result, SR filed his annual performance grievance in January.

Having my own frequent and annoying interactions with SR, i was still flummoxed yesterday when he sat through a group meeting with the Organizational Development Specialist, shitting his unique blend of toxic stupid all over the room.  He claimed that we had not provided adequate direction to the group about organizational changes.  Stated repeatedly that he’d not been offered opportunities to learn about the rationale behind program changes.  It was a transparent attempt to make it seem as though JT and i were completely incompetent.

JT and i were patient.  The magic happened when the rest of the group started busting him for it – one by one, they piled on “No, SR, you were there for the Big Investment Strategy Meeting, where daisyfae laid this all out…” and so on.  He finally shut the fuck up, and in the end it was a nice team building exercise for the rest of the group.

The real mind-blower?  i found out today that JT has been patiently going to Alternative Dispute Resolution meetings with SR since January.  He is still claiming discrimination – mind you, JT is also black, so this surprised me.  She explained it to me today…

JT:  Oh, he’s claiming that I’ve got problems with black men, and that I’m unfit to supervise him because of it…

daisyfae:  What?  How much more specific can he get?  You’ve got problems with black men, who wear mismatched sportscoats that are two sizes two small and are named SR?

JT:  No worries.  The personnel people have already told him he’s full of shit…

Death metal…

It has long been my strategy to keep a fleet of shitmobiles, and drive them until the wheels fall off.  Seems the wheels are starting to come off, and i need to develop a back up plan.

At this particular moment in time, i have three cars, the newest one being ten years old.  And also at this particular moment in time, if i had to drive more than 100 miles, i’d rent a car – or worse – borrow wheels from either of my kids. 

Let’s take a look at my stable, shall we?

First is the The Pimpmobile.  Bought almost entirely by telephone about nine years ago, while i was under duress*, i have hated this car from the moment i first saw it.  It is gold.  It is ferocious in it’s ugliness.  But the top comes down, so i can use it like a yuppie pick up truck if need be… and i have. 

The Girl had it with her at the university, and it was sideswiped in the parking lot.  That was about four years ago.  i let it rust.  Suffer, bitch…

This uglyfuckingexcuseforacar cost me $350 today, as it dropped stone cold dead in the garage over the weekend.  It is repaired.  i’m thinking that’s the last of my hardly-earned cash this ol’ cow is going to see…  135,000 miles, and i hate it just as much as i hated it the day i bought it.

Reliable ride number two?  That would be my son’s former car, a 1995 Toyota Camry.  This was a great car for him up until a few months ago when it started to idle rough.  My Favorite Mechanic took a good look and explained that one of the valves is crapping out, and it would be at least $1,500 to repair.  Fuck that.  He said i could get another 5,000 miles out of it, and so i shall…

Fortunately, my ex-father-in-law, now 92 years old, didn’t need his big ass Buick.  The Boy now drives a lovely Old Man Car, with about 42,000 miles on it.  Leather interior.  Sweet cruiser…  And the price was right.  So the Camry is now my back up car, at least until it shits out it’s last fumes.

In general, this is a great car – and with the massive subwoofer that lives in the trunk?  The sound system on this thing will blow the doors off an SUV.  The only downside?  i probably ought to remove those stickers… Then again, i don’t think anyone driving past is really going to mistake me for a Danzig fan…  The small round one? That says “This Ride Has God Inside”.  That one stays…

My favorite, of course, is my Jeep.  This one’s a keeper, but she’s 27 years old and is occasionally temperamental, as old girls sometimes are… Bike racks are for pussies.  i love this car, but getting caught topless in the rain – when i’m supposed to be all presentable in a suit and shit – just doesn’t always work…

Oh, and there’s one more set of wheels in my garage.  Perhaps the lowest mileage of the bunch… Not much use in the rain.  Good for my heart.  Still, a twenty year old bike.  With the drivers in this part of the country, i would also be risking death if i attempted to commute on a bicycle. 

i need to suck it up buy a car…  Grrr….

* Dad was in the hospital, i was commuting 120 miles a day round trip, and my primary wheels were falling apart.  An import/sports car, it was expensive.  i had to do something…

Auxiliary Spawn

It took about a week for me to find the fourth rubber spider.  By then, i had adopted a posture of “no response is the best response”, as every flame out on my part led to a repositioning of the spider elsewhere in the house.  If i ignored the rubber spider, it stayed put.
 
i fucking hate spiders. 
 
ZZ started dating my daughter late last summer, and he has adapted well to our quirky family.  Right down to the annoying practical jokes. 
 
For some reason*, he seems bent on making sure i like him.  He contributes as a “citizen of the household”, taking out the trash.  He adds to our raging discussions on social, political and economic issues.  He cooks – magical and wonderful creations spring forth from my kitchen, and there are often tasty leftovers in the fridge.  He tends bar.  Magical and wonderful creations spring forth from my liquor cart on occasion.
 
Shortly after he started spending time with us, we were awaiting truckloads of trailer park people before a family gathering.  He kept asking “Is there anything i can do to help?”  i thanked him, and let him know i had everything under control.  As soon as the first pod descended upon us, i started ordering him around, making him my kitchen bitch.  He was fantastic, and patient, and learned the fine art of shoveling food into the trailer park gullet…
 
He’s served as a mentor to The Boy, sharing experiences from his youth.  “Been there, done that, got the Iggy Pop T-shirt**”.  They have bonded on numerous occasions, including shared opportunities to jump out from behind doors and scare the living shit out of me.
 
He’s been there for me during some late night drama.  Sitting up with me, offering a hug and a shoulder.  Reliable, sturdy and intuitive. 
 
Last week, ZZ and The Girl let me know that he was working on a present for me.  No idea what to expect, i was a little edgy.  i figured spiders would be involved.  After work on Tuesday, The Girl said – “It’s done!  It’s in the pantry.” 
 
Opening the doors, i was stunned to find it cleaned, neatly organized and damn near empty.
 
“Mom, it was frustrating to look in there and see how crammed it was – but we never had anything to eat.  Now we can SEE that we don’t have anything to eat….”
 
Four trash bags full of expired cans of whatwasithinkingwheniboughtthis, rock-hard partially used bags of brown sugar, fossilized tubes of cake decorating icing.  He even rotated the stock*** so that the stuff that expires soonest is up front.
 
He’s settled into the role of “auxiliary spawn”.  But what he didn’t realize is that there is only one thing he really needs to do for me to like him…  Continue treating my daughter like a goddess, and we’ll get along fine. 
 
Oh, and enough with the fucking rubber spiders already…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Fear?  Fear would be a good reason….
 
** The fabled “Iggy Pop” shirt is reported to live in my basement, where The Boy has resided.  It apparently serves as host to several million of my departed knuckle grandchildren.  i don’t go down there much.
 
*** Not that i’m going to be the one using things from the pantry, mind you.

my body, my choice?

At a dinner party about a month ago, i was ambushed by a woman i’d just met over a simple statement of fact.  Tonight, during “happy hour” with friends, i encountered a similar sentiment and am now at home – finding myself swimming in a gentle pool of bewilderment and bourbon.

What is it about the human mind that compels us to judge the behavior of others?

Last month, i was invited to an informal dinner party –  i was excited to have a chance to get out and play with some new folks.  i’ve known Joe for over two decades, and have always found him to have an enticing circle of friends.  If he invites me to dinner?  i never decline!

Just seven of us, we got started with the forensics of friendship – “So, how did you meet Joe?”.  Tom was a friend from childhood, and was there with his wife Gail.  He works in building maintenance and she is a surgical nurse.  Jim and Nancy used to run an art gallery, and she is a recovered Special Education teacher.  Peg is his next door neighbor, and she and Joe are the last two remaining homeowners on the street – preparing to take a stand against the city as they lay claim to “Eminent Domain”, forcing them to sell in the interests of an urban renewal project.

Dinner conversation was lively as we worked our way through film, local politics, the arts and a host of other topics.  i knew early on that Gail would be fun, as nurses at the dinner table are easily engaged in all manner of graphic and bizarre medical stories – but i waited until dinner was a happy memory before asking “What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever encountered at the hospital?”.

Shortly thereafter we all agreed that “Prolapsed Rectum” was a better name for a band than a restaurant.

At some point, the conversation turned to my circumstances.  Divorced, two grown children, professional geek – and enjoying a grand set of adventures in the current phase of my life.  Gail said “Well, I’m sure you’ll find a nice engineer to marry someday!”

In hindsight, i should have just said “Yep.  Reckon so…”  But that is not my way.  i explained that i’m pretty happy being single, have plenty of male companionship, and that i am not, in fact, looking to re-marry.  At least for the time being…”

This didn’t seem to register.  “Don’t you worry about being alone? What if you get sick?”  This drew out the “Ummm… not really.  i had cancer three years ago, got lucky and managed to get through it pretty well with support from my friends and children.  Not something that keeps me awake at night…”

It then took a rather ugly turn – although in hindsight i’m not sure how – when she said “So you’re just fuck-buddies with these guys, and that doesn’t bother you?”  Thankfully, her husband stood up and mentioned that they really needed to get home to let the dog out soon… The rest of us said our goodbyes, and continued on with pleasant after-dinner conversation.  Wasn’t really sure what to think of that, but let it go…

Tonight at happy hour, yukking it up with good friends from the office, stumbled into a similar quagmire.  Just like the last time, i really didn’t see it coming. 

My pals were justifiably giving me a massive ration of shit for the resort-business trip to the Caribbean last week.  The Ninjaneer threw a few targeted jabs about ‘cabana boys’… Nope, no ‘workshop nookie’, other than an unexpected platonic kiss from a rather charming European researcher.  Whom i later found out was not only independently wealthy, but married.

Female science friend immediately chided me – “Not again!  You’ve got to stop giving it away, girl.”

(sigh)

her:  Don’t give it away!  Respect yourself more than that…  There has to be something for you in return.

daisyfae:  But i’m not looking for anything in return – other than companionship, intimacy, adventure…

her:  Don’t you want to be in love?  It’s better when you’re in love.

daisyfae:  Not really.  i honestly don’t want that.  This is what i want… at least for now.

her:  Then maybe you just shouldn’t tell people what you’re doing.  I’m worried they’ll think badly of you.

daisyfae:  But i honestly don’t give a shit what other people think.  It’s my life.  Let them judge me.  So what?

We agreed to disagree, and i know that she cares about me, and certainly cares a great deal more about what others think of me than i do.  It’s genuine, not malicious.  We’re just coming at it from very different places in life…

Crunching it over, as i sit at home on a Friday night in my pajamas, while enjoying the last vestiges of the bourbon in my blood… 

Do we all have to live the same life?  Who decides what is moral?  Is my chosen lifestyle that threatening to others?  Women in particular?  Does a man in my position get the same reaction, or the ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ treatment?  Should i care what other people think?

i’ve been pretty direct with others regarding my circumstances, usually handling all inquiries about my status with a response of “i’m dating aggressively”.  That usually gets the point across. 

In the future?  i think i’m just going to shut the fuck up.  Apparently that would be much less stressful for others.  Without a doubt much less annoying for me…