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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Who Do U Worship

One mildly sarcastic statement that a lot of people in the service industry make about long-winded customers is that they want their order, not their life story. Of course, this is always said to a co-worker.

"So then the lady starts talking about how her son is in college somewhere. I mean, I want your order, not your life story, you know what I mean?" they say.

"Yes, she surely doesn't need to tell you her whole life story--you only need the order. Ha ha."

Recently, much to my chagrin, a woman actually did attempt to tell me her life story.

"Oooh, I think I'll have a glass of wine," she began. "But I've already had three drinks tonight. Should I have another one?"

"Well, I--"

"The first one I had was a vodka and tonic. That was just down the street there. What's that place called? I can't remember. Anyway, the second one was a white wine. It was quite nice--made in Hawke's Bay, I think."

And so on. I made my escape pretty early on that one, the result of the conversation being that she would think about which wine she would drink for a minute before making a decision. As I busied myself with other activities, I would periodically look up to see if she was ready to order. It took her about eight minutes. I approached her table.

"I'm very good at determining which is a good wine and which is not," she told me. "I want a wine that isn't sweet. Which of these isn't sweet?"

"You'd probably be best off with a chardonnay," I told her.

"That's correct," she said.

"Well, we have three chardonnays by the glass. This one is my favorite," I said, pointing to one of the wines on the list.

"I'll have this one," she said, pointing at one of the wines I didn't suggest.

"Would you like to taste it to make sure?"

"Yes. Yes I would."

So she tasted her first pick, and didn't like it. Then I brought her the one I originally suggested, and she said

"Oh, this is delightful! Very nice! I'll have that!"

Great idea! I resisted the temptation to put one of my ass hairs in the glass.

It took her another fifteen minutes to decide on what to order, and she of course asked about nineteen questions about the size of the scallops on the salad, what kind of cheese, exactly, was used on it, and where it originated. After she ate, her plate was cleared, and I was set to bring her the bill. She still had some wine in her glass, so I didn't rush her. Just as I walked by though. . .

"Excuse me! I need a dessert menu!"

"Here you are."

"I thought that girl over there would bring me a dessert menu when she took my plate, but apparently she didn't feel like doing it."

[Silence as I stare at her, unsure of how to respond to her comment.]

"Oh, pay no attention to me. I was left by the bus today so I'm in a bad mood. I had to walk an hour into town."

"Right. I'll just give you a minute to decide on dessert."

But it was too late. She trapped me in her clutches, and I was unable to escape without assistance. She told me about how the bus driver, "that bitch," left her, on purpose at the bus station, which forced her to walk an hour into town--and she's a fast walker. From there she told me that she was born in Nelson but lived in Christchurch most of her life. She told me about her son who is in University. She told me about her job in real estate. She told me how her father passed away just a few years ago. She told me that she and her husband split up some years ago, and he is now seeing "some woman." She made several references to the fact that she thought she was old, and felt embarrased about it. She couldn't be stopped.

I can't be sure, but I believe it was somewhere between the story about her beginnings in Nelson and the stories of her son that I began amusing myself with that game where you try to get the little string-attached ball into the little wooden cup. From there, I picked up an old issue of New Woman that was lying around, and leafed through it for a good fifteen minutes. Good article about Posh Spice and David Beckham. I think it was around the second day of her story-telling that I finally started working on her head with a jackhammer. By that time, I'd already attempted firing off flares to elicit some kind of rescue, and my efforts to physically beat her up failed. She was like some kind of verbose superhuman with skin like The Incredible Hulk. Bullets bounced right off her.

The woman wasn't even really that old--I'd estimate she was somewhere in her late fifties. Still though, any time I come across someone who is the slightest bit older and exhibits signs of craziness, I think about what my Dad mentioned to me after we discovered that my grandmother had been saving opened cans of cat food from as far back as the Wilson administration:

"It's like when you get older, every little neurotic tendency you had when you were younger is brought to the forefront and multiplied by a thousand."

If this is the case, I'd like to thank Hunter S. Thompson for doing himself in before he destroyed the world in a fit of senility. The least we can do is fire his ashes of in a cannon, as were his wishes.

I ended up getting away from the woman by denying that anyone bring her any food or water for the nine days that her stories went on. Fortunately, because of my larger stature and my generally good health, I managed to out-live her.

You were a worthy adversary, Palaverous Middle-Aged Woman. I salute thee.

Chatty Old Woman: 1940 (Approximately)-2005
We will never forget.


Blogger Ben said...


8:11 PM  

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