Maybe read the post, “Fair to Middling, Cinderella to the Ball,” published on May 25, 2022 for background.
Some of my readers may remember the work banquet Wolf and I attended last spring, for which I overprepared, and the review of said event involving one of my husband’s coworker’s wives. We’re calling her Debbie. In a nutshell, when I saw she’d rearranged the name cards in order for us to sit together at that dinner, I’d known that evening was doomed.
A couple weeks ago, when my husband’s work Christmas party came around, I was prepared in a different way. My husband would enter the restaurant first and lead us to seats that were not beside or across from Debbie. I even enlisted one of Wolf’s coworkers, a friend, to sit away from her and save seats for us. When I said I didn’t want to sit near Debbie, our friend didn’t miss a beat, “Not wanting to sit with Debbie Downer and listen to her?”
A few minutes before party time, we left our hotel room to walk across the street to the Italian restaurant. I thought if we got there early, we’d have an easier time navigating the seating. We headed to the elevators on the 17th floor, and guess who joined us for the ride down. Debbie entered after me and stood beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder. She was on my left. As we were all getting settled, Debbie put one of her long, manicured nails IN MY EAR and “tickled?” I drew back and looked at her saying, “Don’t.” She laughed and as soon as I turned facing forward, she DID IT AGAIN, putting her finger in my ear. Not the outermost structures of the ear or the lobe, but INSIDE near the entrance. I looked at her and said, “Knock it off.” She laughed and, once I looked ahead, SHE DID IT A THIRD TIME!!! WTAF? I faced her and said, “Stop. I’m serious.” She responded, “I see that.” There was no more involvement between us as the elevator reached the lobby level.
Debbie, her husband, and another couple from Wolf’s work exited and walked to the left, heading to the main corridor, fully decorated, to reach the front doors at the other end of the lobby. My husband and I moved to the right, and we took the less traveled hallway passing the spa, gym, and pool. We walked slowly and even stopped for a few moments. We were definitely lagging behind Debbie and others going to the event.
Unfortunately, when we reached the restaurant, they weren’t yet ready for our party. (hah, see what I did there?) I moved to a chair to get off my feet while we waited. After a few minutes, Debbie came over and sat in the other chair in the small waiting area. I didn’t look at her or speak to her. I studiously enjoyed all the Christmas decor in the mall of shops, cafe, and our estabishment. I could see Debbie in my peripheral vision attempting to make eye contact, but I was concentrating on those beautiful Christmas trimmings.
When we were welcomed to our seats at two long tables in the back room, Debbie and her husband were ahead of us. They took seats at the table on the left. Wolf and I didn’t think our friend had arrived and saved seats because he wasn’t ahead of us in the group being led through the restaurant. My husband took seats for us at the right side table, facing away from the other. Eventually, we did see that our friend had been seated early and saved seats, but comme ci comme ca.
Aaaahhhh, there it was. My early gift was not having to sit next to Debbie. Last spring I was offended by her comments regarding her daughter’s fiancé and was sure this night, if I were trapped, Debbie would have regaled me with stories from the summer wedding. The fiancé happens to be black, which she informed me of while assuring “it would be okay” to which I said with a tone, “Yes, I’m sure it will be.” I can only imagine comments she’d make when reporting on the ceremony.
Wolf took me back to the hotel room after the meal and returned for the gift exchange. Debbie approached him and said, “Sara’s really mad at me, huh?” My husband is talented in letting remarks go unaddressed.
At the next work event, it’s most likely Debbie will try to make up for her weird, inappropriate elevator behavior. Whatever. If she makes ONE comment about the race of her son-in-law or his family, I’m ready. My response will be, “Do you really mean to tell me you think skin color determines the worth of a person???” I will not hold back to be polite. Perhaps she will recognize that I’m not merely disturbed by her finger in my ear but hold deeper animosity toward her.