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Last weekend I was the victim of a hate crime. The perp was a Christmas Party Task Master. (I know, I know, that’s not a hate crime, BUT I HATED IT. tm The Office) Have you suffered at the hands of one of these people? A friend of mine took me to the annual Christmas party her friend John throws. John is gay and, therefore (GENERALIZATION COMING UP), goes all out. In the past he’s had something like eight decorated trees in different rooms of his (gorgeous) house. This year there were just four trees (I guess because of the recession?) but still: gorgeous. Not to mention the dining room table impeccably decked out with not only amazingly yummy food, but the presentation. OMG the presentation. Granted, I am the person who is just happy when I make food for my guests that don’t contain animal hair and will maybe have a nice stack of napkins (can’t you all wait to come over???), so maybe anything would impress me. But still. It’s like Christopher Lowell set up his table display. There were levels. Levels! As in, he used different-sized boxes and such, then covered it with a tablecloth, so that all the nummy scrumptiousity (what, it’s a word) were at varying heights that not only made it easier to serve oneself but also was aesthetically pleasing. He had a “winter scene” DVD playing on his huge TV and delightful holiday music in the background. He had door prizes. He had a crackling fire in the fireplace and probably a little elf from the North Pole, hidden to the naked eye, running around cleaning up after us. It was awesome.

Until.

Until the majority of us were sitting around the living room, relaxing after our few glasses of wine and our several trips to the buffet table, and this woman whose name I didn’t catch but who was wearing a CHRISTMAS SWEATER called everyone’s attention to a game she had brought to the party and wouldn’t it be fun if we all played? Which, I mean, what was she really expecting us to say. After she asked, all you could hear was the holiday music in the background, which should have been a hint (where hint = GLARING INDICATION) that none of us actually wanted to play her reindeer games. Unfortunately someone wearing a CHRISTMAS SWEATER is not easily dissuaded. And she wasn’t above name-calling to get people to play. So she got a half-hearted, “ummmm, okay” from most of us. And then we were cornered.

She described the game as a kind of combination of Password and Hot Potato. (I know, I KNOW, hold on to your seats!) It was a Roomba-looking electronic device that gave clues that the person holding it would have to describe without using the word or any variant of the word, while the device beeped and as time got closer to running out the beeps got LOUDER AND FASTER until the buzzer indicated your time was up. Because nothing makes a game fun like the sounds of an annoying alarm clock. I still don’t understand the scoring. We were supposed to play in teams, but instead of dividing up the room in half (too logical, perhaps?), she said that every other person was on your team. So each time someone was giving a clue, we had to mentally count every other person from where we were sitting to determine whether or not they were on our team. All while listening to the beep BEEP BEEPing. I don’t know how she knew, but she would frequently call out to someone when they were trying to guess, “They’re not on your team!” Apparently prescience goes hand in hand with the CHRISTMAS SWEATER. None of the people around me paid much attention to that and just kept guessing regardless of teams, in the hopes that the sooner we got to the answers, the sooner the game would end. Which it eventually did. And then she made us play it again “since we’re all just now getting the hang of it.”

I’m sure it’s not a surprise that the party broke up immediately after the second game ended.

+++++

Sidebar: I googled “electronic password hot potato game” and it actually led me to the game. Which I’m sure would be a fun game with the right crowd. Even though some of the “catch phrases” made no sense to most of us. It was like it should have been called “Catch Phrases of the 1950s and 60s.”

I used to have this roommate and friend who was kind of a bitch (hence, the “used to” part of that sentence). She was one of those people who said things like “Look, I’m just an honest person. I just tell it like it is, and if people don’t like it, that’s their problem.” Except for her, it wasn’t about being honest so much as it was about being rude and callous while insisting people just accept it in the name of her special brand of honesty. Needless to say she was slightly… what’s a nice way to say crazy here irrational. Not to mention her definition of honesty didn’t include remaining faithful to her husband, but hey, WHATEVER, right?! Anyway. This particular person did quite a number on me during our friendship, and while I am willing to take my share of responsibility because people don’t steamroll you unless you let them, I still have some kind of residual trauma when it comes to her and, apparently, the use of the phrase “hey, I’m just being honest.”

I discovered about a week ago that a friend of mine had been pissed at me for 10 days over an extremely benign (in my opinion, obviously, but guess what – this is my blog, not hers) comment I texted her. A comment that was CLEARLY a joke even if I hadn’t added the requisite “:P” emoticon to drive home the point that I was joking (which I did). For the sake of this post, taking into account the type of friendship we’ve had the past nine or so years, we’ll say the comment was something akin to “I like TV.” That wasn’t the comment, the actual comment might be considered too crude for some people’s friendships, but considering the crassness of this particular friend and the way we’ve always traded insults and jokes, my text might as well have been something that harmless and universally unoffensive. At least, it certainly was in my mind, given our history. I am actually still at a loss over what set her off. I mean, it’s TV. Who doesn’t like TV? Seriously, Internet, that’s how inane her reaction is to me. It’s just TV, for the love of Mike!

So yeah, I don’t get what pissed her off to the extent that it took her 10 days to tell me she was angry but that she was “just being honest.” I don’t get it so much that here we are, over a week later, and although I apologized, I haven’t been able to say anything else to her, because now I’M angry. Because her response to my “I like TV” comment was something I, at the time, took as a joke because SEE EARLIER “:P” EMOTICON WHERE I THOUGHT WE WERE JOKING, but then realizing that she was angry and not joking, her response, which for the sake of this post we’ll call “I HATE ANYONE WHO LIKES TV,” is just something I can’t imagine saying to a friend in any seriousness. Add to that the fact that I had also just told her (after the offensive “I like TV” text) that I was a bummed about something specific that she did not and STILL has not acknowledged, and I can’t help but wonder if I’ve misjudged this friendship. I’m trying to put myself in a place of mind where a friend makes me so angry that I tell them I HATE ANYONE WHO LIKES TV and then on top of that, neglect to reach out to them when they tell me they’re worried/depressed, and you know what? I can’t get there. I can’t get to that place where any one I have cared about would piss me off with a handful of words THAT much that I would drop the ball that way.

I don’t like being petty, and I certainly do not like participating in such high-school-esque drama at my advanced age of 37. I know that people make mistakes, have bad days, are allowed to be irritated with their friends once in a while. I do feel like it’s OK that friendships fade as people change. I also feel like when people show you who they are you need to pay attention to that. I’m not saying unequivocally that I’m right and she’s wrong. I just can’t figure out what, at this point, I am willing to let go.

A recent conversation between my friend M and me:

Zoo: I’ve really been trying to eat better. More salads, no snacks in the house. The only thing I’ve allowed myself is melting a few milk chocolate chips in the microwave and eating with almonds.

M: That’s a good idea!

Zoo: Yeah, it’s going well this week. Wait a couple of weeks when I start PMSing and then need salt. Then sweet. Then hamburgers. Then candy. Then sugar. Then chips. And so on. My cravings get out of control.

M: Oh I know! I allow myself a box of Junior Mints when I go to the movies and I DO NOT SHARE IT.

Zoo: HA! Whenever I go to the movies it’s like a frickin smorgasboard I can barely make a decision. Of course I get like four things and then inhale all the food before the movie even starts.

M: OH ME TOO! Can’t take the leftovers home, can’t have that shit in the house, after all.

Zoo: Totally. Whenever I get really out-of-control cravings, and you know they’re intense when I get off my lazy ass to actually go to the store, and then get to the store and buy eight different kinds of junk food, I always prepare myself in case the cashier comments on the amount of crap I’m buying:
“Oh, I’m having my nieces over for a sleepover so I’m treating them to junk food!”
“Oh, I’m just getting ready for Halloween. You know, months ahead of time. And, um, while these aren’t on sale or anything…”
“Oh! Yeah. I’m just a fatty.”

M, laughing: That’s hilarious. So you’re inventing family members to cover your eating habits. Next thing you’ll find some kid to go with you.

Zoo: Totally, find some kid on the street. “Hey, little girl, wanna do me a favor? I’ll give you some candy if you do!”

pause

Zoo: Uh, that was bad. I took it too far.

Email

zooaskew[at]gmail[dot]com
August 2017
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