Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Monday, December 26, 2005

Failure of the Day: Holiday Round-Up

No complaints this year. Chris and I cooked for his family on Sunday and everything went off without a hitch. The food was good, the company was pleasant, and everybody seemed to like their gifts…not least of which Chris, who really liked his Vader ’77 football jersey. I scored much bigger, and although it was delayed in the mail and hasn’t actually arrived yet (so I can’t say too much more lest the jinx reach its icy fingers into our mailbox), I’ve known what it was and that it was coming for awhile and have thoroughly enjoyed anticipating it. I’ll post more when it arrives.

At work I happily managed to navigate what for me were some fairly dicey holiday social situations. First was a holiday lunch with my boss and the proofing team, which ordinarily would have been no cause for alarm except they decided to go to a French restaurant. Being as difficult to feed as I am, that necessitated literally days of research, and thank god the place had its menu online because if they hadn’t I very well might have popped from sheer anxiety.

My first thought upon being told of where we would be going was, “Oh dear god, don’t let them serve effie legs.” I vividly imagined someone ordering that and me having to say, “Please. I beg you….as a personal favor to me…for the love of God, order something else!” And the plain fact of the matter is, I may well have had to do that if anyone at a table anywhere near me had ordered it. And having only worked there for six weeks and love love loving it, I’d just as soon put off letting them know what a complete social lunatic I am for as long as possible.

And that was just the above and beyond weirdness. There is also the fact that I don’t eat fruits or vegetables and am in addition as prosaic as the day is long about the small number of foods I will eat. I almost wept for joy when I saw that the lunch menu included “Hamburger Américain avec pommes frites.” Better still, I wasn’t the only one of the four us who went to a fancy French restaurant and ordered the cheeseburger, so I didn’t even feel like a totally uncultured idiot.

The next day there was a party for our building; an informal affair but it was catered and had live music. And although it was at 2 in the afternoon and it was fairly well understood that afterward we would all go back to work, the beer and wine flowed freely. (I’ve found there to be a surprising amount of accepted afternoon alcohol consumption at my office, but that’s a whole other story.) As most readers of this blog know, I am cold death on a stick at parties, being entirely incapable as I am at making smalltalk, but again being the new girl in full-blown Like ME! mode at work, I was determined to make an appearance and be demonstrably friendly and full of team spirit.

To my surprise I had a nice time and chatted comfortably with my co-workers. I was feeling downright adroit. I hadn’t fallen down or spilled anything on myself or anyone else, and no one noticed that I stepped on a cherry tomato and ground it into the carpet. And then in the middle of one conversation, a co-workers with whom I have a moderate amount of interaction, said to me, apropos of nothing at all, “So what’s with the hair?”

I get a fair number of comments about my hair on a given day, but I don’t know if I’ve had someone not understand it before, and then blurt out a question in what I think is fair to describe as a pretty rude verbal construction. The guy is Mission hipster-type and a poet to boot, so it’s not like I can blame it on some sort of cultural or generational disconnect. I blinked at him and said, “It’s…curly?” in the hopes that might clear some things up for him.

I thought about it a bit on the way home that night, and at first I thought he was just being snarky, or maybe he’s just an outright dick. But then it occurred to me…maybe he’s actually more socially awkward than me. Maybe stupid shit comes out of his mouth at inopportune times, too. I don’t know what the reason might be. What I do know is that I’m not the one who said something stupid to a co-worker this year, and that’s about as close to an xmas miracle as I’ve ever experienced.


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