Sunday, September 30, 2007

Better Living Through Chemistry, and a question

My weekend was made possible by the fine people at Robitussin, Benedryl, and Mucinex. Special thanks also to Kleenex for all 320 tissues in the box I just polished off, and to Brita for filtering the 19 gallons of water I've chugged down today. Sniff. Gulp. Sigh.

Aside from the cold, life is pretty good here in Trishville. I notice how good it is because of how un-good it used to be. I woke up this morning thinking of a conversation I had not too long ago that still cracks me up and brings me back to earth (with a thud) anytime I'm tempted to get too full of myself:

I was thirty-three, divorced, virtually unemployed, and living in a tenement-quality apartment with big holes in the walls. I'd just joined a group of people who were exploring questions about faith, where I made some cool friends and felt like my life might be on an upswing ("upswing" being defined as "I have someone to go to the movies with on Saturday afternoon") Kind of pitiful, but there you have it.

One day, one of the girls in the group who had graduated from college about a year earlier came up to me and asked, with great earnest, if she could talk to me. "I need some advice," she said, "I really think you're the person I need to talk to!'

"Sure," I said, puffing up a bit. It had been a rather long time since anyone had thought I might have anything useful to offer about making life decisions. "How can I help?" I asked.

"Tell me," she said eagerly, "What should I do so I don't end up like you?"

"Like me?" I asked, certain she couldn't mean that the way it sounded.

"Yeah," she clarified. "You know--divorced, alone, no real career or plan in life. Meeting you made me realize how wrong things can go if I'm not careful!" In her eyes, I was like one of those car wrecks they put out on the front lawn of the High School before prom night to warn what can happen if you drive drunk. (I've always wanted to be an inspiration to future generations; I guess I should consider this a starting point of sorts.)

The most frustrating part of this memory, though, is that I can't remember how I responded. This is quite possibly the funniest interaction I've ever had with another person, and I can't remember how the story ends?!?

(I DO know that she moved 3,462 miles away about two months later, which I cling to as proof that God hears and answers our prayers)

What would you have said???

19 comments:

John Elder Robison said...

Well, that's a lot like what my brother told me about writing a book about Asperger's.

How do I do that, I asked?

Just tell your stories, like you told me when I was a kid. Everyone will see what's wrong with you.

And you can see where it got me.

Woof!

Beck said...

"Tell me," she said eagerly, "What should I do so I don't end up like you?"

That is BRUTAL! AWFUL!
And way to make everything better - good for you.

Sarakastic said...

I wouldve said that "I can get a job & a boyfriend but you will always be the insensitive question asker"...ok maybe i need to work on that answer

Kvetch said...

I have to admit at times I feel like the person who is here to serve as an example for others of how "it could always be worse."

Truly! I can make anyone feel better about their own life, no matter how awful! :-) I know, I know, it's a gift!

Moanna said...

How's this: Ok, I'll tell you that if you'll tell me how not to end up a jerk.

Your posting reminds me of what my older sister said when I asked her why she stayed married (to the guy she was telling me was cruel). She said, "Because I wouldn't want mom to talk about me the way she talks about you." This was years ago and I've recovered. She however is still looking for her teeth. hehehe Only in my mind. Shows how well I've recovered... :)

L Sass said...

WOW. Terrible.

I have actually had the opposite experience, kind of. I have several single friends in their mid-30s who have made comments over the years implying that I'm lucky to be in my mid-20s, in a stable relationship, on a career path, etc...

It's always awkward, because, I see so many advantages to the choices they've made (even if sometimes they got where they have by way of a mistake rather than a choice, per se)... they're not tied down, they know themselves so well, they're such strong, amazing women.

And, does that woman realize that you can be married, employed and a homeowner and still be brutally unhappy?

heidikins said...

Probably something completely sarcastic and fully intended to send her down the "wrong" road... but I can be a cyncical bitch like that. :o)

xox

Liz said...

oh my god-- who WAS that?? sorry, I can't help asking. :)

Larramie said...

Not to be unkind, but she was in far worse straits than you were and didn't have a clue...*sigh*

JenKneeBee said...

wow, it thoroughly amazes me how clueless some people can be.

I think I would have responded by walking away. why should i engage rude or insensitive people in conversation?

Stephanie said...

My way of answering would have been something to the tune of: Hmm, don't want to end up like me? Well, for starters, don't ask questions like that trying to 'know it all.' I thought I knew it all when I was your age. Now I have to go. I seriously need coffee right now.

Perhaps slightly rude. But nowhere near as rude or inconsiderate as her line of questioning. When someone is in a setting that is generally God-focused and that seeks to promote kindness and understanding and asks such a self-centered, know it all, sassy sort of question that seems to have no bit of kindness or understanding or acceptance in it, well, then I think that person is in the wrong place.

On another note--you're busy, I'm busy, but we should grab a glass of wine soon! For serious! But--like--when you're feeling better and stuff. (smile)

Swishy said...

I would have been SPEECHLESS! That isjust unbelievable. Well, I think you are just wonderful, so there :)

The Writers' Group said...

Once at a PTO meeting, the woman speaking ridiculed me because of a medical condition. When the laughter subsided I said, "How insensitive of you." The silence was deafening. Sometimes people need the favor of being told when they're unkind.

Amy

Patti said...

no wordy response needed after i had pulled her hair.

Carleen Brice said...

Hi Trish! Thanks for popping by my blog. This story is too funny. I think my jaw would have hung open leaving me unable to answer. Good for you for using it to laugh at yourself!

Stacy said...

Oh, wow. I think if someone said that to me in my early twenties when I was painfully self-conscious about my lack of direction, it would have crippled me yet more.

Kristen said...

Goodness! I cannot believe anyone would say that! I probably would have laughed it off, but then seethed with anger or cried later.

I hope you're feeling better, and I hope everything works out for our dinner tomorrow night with Lynette. I'm really looking forward to meeting you! :-)

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Oh my gosh! That's horrible! You have a great perspective on it. Maybe it's really best that you not remember what you said...if you know what I mean.

ellesappelle said...

Thank you so much for sharing that!! I'm so glad you can laugh at it because that is hilariously funny albeit rude! What was she thinking?!