Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Hi There" Means "Yo' Mama" In My Dialect

You know how there are those people on the periphery of your life that annoy the Les Nessman out of you? Maybe it's the woman in your Library Skool class who incessantly asks you what grade you got on every assignment. Maybe it's the library patron who comes in every day to tell you that they "pay your salary." Maybe it's the neighbor who thinks it's ok to tell you that your partner looks too skinny and you better feed him better or he may never marry you. These aren't your friends. They aren't your loved ones. You never chose them. But they are in your life on a semi-consistent basis, and you just have to deal with them the best that you can. You know the ones. We all have them.

So, today, my library system had Staff Day. It was a mini-conference of sorts, where the entire large staff gets together for workshops, guest speakers, and training. As our system has hundreds and hundreds of employees, it's fun to get together in one place and learn us some skeels. As I walked the halls in the large Convention Center, going from workshop to workshop, I saw lots of friendly faces. I caught up with colleagues I hadn't seen in a while, and had a chance to introduce myself to some new people. And, in the midst of all of that positive interaction, I ran into Hortensia.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that Hortensia is one of these annoying acquaintances of which I speak, and I am going to tell you some hideous story about how her nose always whistles or her breath always smells like Cheez-its. I'm not. First, these things are not true. Second, I don't really know Hortensia but at all, and what I do know of her doesn't annoy me in the slightest.

Hortensia and I went to Library Skool together. Our program was big enough that the cohort wasn't tight-knit, but small enough where you pretty much knew everyone by name and chatted with them every once in a while. Hortensia was, when she spoke in class, intelligent, funny, and interesting. I wasn't particularly drawn to her, but neither was I repulsed. One day, I happened to sit next to her in class. "Hi there," I said, with my Librarian Girl charm, "I like your sweater."

Now, as soon as I sat next to her, I noticed an almost imperceptible shift in her body. A stiffening. And when I said "hi there," the look on her face was not quite decipherable, but she did not look...happy to see me. "Thanks." She said this shortly, not meanly, but with an air of "please don't talk to me please don't talk to me" mixed in there somewhere. Soon, class started and there was no more between us.

During the rest of my stay in Library Skool, this behavior from Hort continued, and if anything, became more pronounced. She would yuk it up with other students, and didn't seem at all shy or stand-offish with them. But yet, every time I approached her for any social niceties, she looked pained. She was always gracious, never rude. But I could almost FEEL her shrink away from me. I was dumbfounded by this. She was acting very much like I had offended her, or like I smelled of pinto beans, or like I had poo stain on my cullottes. What could it be?

As I am not one to dwell on such matters, I didn't give it much more thought or effort, but let it go and just let her be. After we graduated, I didn't see her ever again. Until today.

I didn't know that she had joined the staff of our system, and when I saw her across the room, it really crystallized for me. When it comes to those annoying people in everyone's life...what can I say? The only explanation I can come up with is that for Hortensia, I'm THAT PERSON. The fact that the very me-ness of me can come across like teeth on a chalkboard to someone that barely knows me at all is what I have to swallow out of that situation. I can't control it. There's nothing to be done. I'll never really know just exactly what it is about me that repels her so, and it's a strange thing to think about.

So, if everyone has people that annoy the shit out of them, the math dictates that sometimes WE are on the bad side of that equation. I am quite used to thinking of myself as pretty damn likable, but in this case, Hortensia wants no part of this delicious Librarian Girl pie. Eh. Go figure.

Sorry Hortensia, if I accidentally spit when I talked to you or took the last doughnut on the student lounge table or fell asleep in class and talked in my sleep where I insulted your mama. Whoops.

Kiss the rings, I'm out.
Librarian Girl


Marigoldie said...

That is a wise observation, I think. And while I don't understand why she'd vibe you like that, I know in my life I've felt some freedom and understanding when I realized that certain people just don't like me. Can't win 'em all, I reckon.

Darlene said...

Well, we all have people who irk us or "rub us the wrong way." I can't think of the amount of times I've said in my life, "I don't know what it is, I just don't like them." Hey, you can always think that she was intimidated by your beauty and intelligence, and she was just being a jealous bi-otch...Hey, that'll work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with marigoldie that that is a wise observation - and when that's happened to me, it's always been a sort of a relief to realize I can stop trying to be friends, because it just ain't going to happen. That being said - how could this Hortensia beeyatch not love Librarian Girl?

Katie Kiekhaefer said...

Wow, that is a wise observation... I'm always worried that I'm missing the signs and am actually annoying the crap out of everyone.