Jun 22 2011

Don’t call me baby

Published by at 10:36 am under Just another day in Paradise

How on earth did we find ourselves here again? Don’t we ever learn?…

This morning I had to find it in me to attend a friend’s piano performance. Not wanting to leave my cool flat and expose myself to this unbearable heat, I wore my lightest dress, put on my sunglasses to hide my miserable and bored-of-life face, and left the house together with my one and only friend: My big bottle of ice-cold water. When I arrived there, I did my best to act like there was nowhere else I wanted to be: ‘Hey, Christian!’, I said enthusiastically as I approached my friend. He immediately stopped me from hugging him using his hand, and smiled to the people around, awkwardly. ‘Hi, hi, good to see you made it. Listen, don’t start going around introducing yourself to people, hugging them, kissing them etc, ok? This is a serious music recital, these people are not here to join your comedy club, this not something to laugh about, this is art, ok’?

I smiled nicely and then looked around me to see who I had to stop myself from hugging and kissing: Old stuck-up women dressed in gold jewellery, looking at me like I was the last of the last. Sleazy half-gay wannabe professors of something, who spend more time choosing their suits than reading. And skinny arty-farty girls with weird colourful glasses and tightly undone hairdos. I turned back to Christian: ‘Come on, pleeeease?… Just one? Can I at least hug and kiss one of them? Pleeease’… He walked annoyed back to his seat to get his show started. ‘It can count as my birthday present…’ I begged, but he just shook his head. ‘You’re cruel’, I whispered and sat down. I looked at the girl sitting next to me, and noticed her bag on her lap which said ‘I’m not a plastic bag’. I smiled, and tried to start a conversation. ‘Does this bag ever have fights with your plastic ones’? She turned and looked at me intensely: ‘I don’t have any plastic bags’. I rushed to nod and calm her down. ‘Good. That’s good’, I said, realising I was once again somewhere I didn’t belong.

A few hours later Theo announced to me that we were supposed to have lunch with his grandma. My reaction, the usual: ‘Aaaaaahhhhhhhhh…….. Noooo’…….. I screamed in pain. He wasn’t surprised. He sat next to me and stroke my hair as I was collapsing. ‘It’s gonna be quick, I promise. In and out, you won’t even notice’. I tried hard to control my tears. ‘That’s why I hate relationships, Theo. Why do you think I was single when you met me? Let’s face it, I was 27 and good-looking. Didn’t that make you think? Why is she single’? He nodded, already knowing the answer, but I decided to give it away once again anyway. ‘Well the answer is that I was single, and I will be again soon, because I hate families. And when I say ‘hate’, I don’t mean it in a cute kinda way, I mean it in a zaaaa’ — I did the usual stabbing impression — ‘kinda way’. He tried to stop himself from laughing and hugged me to calm me down. I looked at him. ‘I have two grandmas, Theo. Two! They are already too much for me. How do you expect me to cope with a third one? He smiled and brought my shoes to help me get ready. I put them on while complaining. ‘You get together with a guy and then suddenly more mums, more dads, more grandmas… We’re breaking up after this, just so you know’. He smiled, so I think he accepted it.

We arrived at his grandma’s and all sat around the table to eat. After the longest couple of hours of my life during which I was wondering what I was doing in a house where the women helping wore uniforms, Theo’s grandma said it: ‘I don’t want you to ever call me ‘grandma”. That did come as a surprise, I have to admit. I was astonished to see that something about me still wasn’t making it completely clear that this was something that never, ever, was going to happen. Something she really didn’t have to worry about. ‘Ok’, I replied, trying not to laugh. ‘I have five grandchildren and they are enough. I don’t want another one. You can address me by my last name’. ‘Or I can get out of addressing you in any way, ever’, I thought, but kept quiet. Instead, I smiled nicely and agreed. ‘Ok’. ‘If you’re not a member of this family, then you don’t call me grandma’, she said strictly, and I looked at Theo. ‘I want a divorce’, I whispered to him and he knew then he’d have to sign those papers before we even got to marry.

In the evening I met up with Georgia and told her about my day. ‘I think I’m being so convincing in the part of the woman who just loves to be where she is right now, that people think they need to set some boundaries. So that I don’t get too excited’. She had a sip of her milkshake and nodded. ‘Yep, that’s how it is’. ‘So basically I’m a very talented actress, who not only is not getting paid or recognised, but is being told off as well’. She laughed. ‘You know how many times friends of mine have asked me to invite you out but to make sure you don’t come because they’re scared you’ll start making inappropriate jokes and sarcastic remarks? I always humour them into thinking it was them they didn’t want you along, when I always know that even if I was to invite you, you’d do anything in your power to get out of it anyway’. I saw her point. ‘So basically, if I were honest and if I wasn’t doing all the things I didn’t want to do, if I chose my cool flat this morning instead of a boring piano performance, and if I sent Theo to his grandma alone and instead went to eat somewhere else, where waiters are more justified to wear costumes, then everyone would be happier’. She gave me the thumbs up: ‘Exactly’. I nodded a few times, thinking about it. ‘Ha, you know I see what you’re saying. They don’t want me there more than I want to be there’. She shook her head: ‘Nope’. We both sat in silence for a while to take this in.

‘And what about manners? You know, being nice. Attending a friend’s important performance, or accompanying your boyfriend to his grandmother’s for a meal’?… She was lost as to what I meant, so I tried to help her. ‘You know what I mean, right? Showing up at one of your friends’ gatherings so that it doesn’t look like your sister is snubbing them’. She tried to make me see the obvious: ‘But Angeliki… My friends don’t want you there anyway. They’re terrified of your weird comments. Theo’s grandma would like you as far away from her as possible, and this morning, let’s be honest, you made poor Christian panic when you showed up at his piano concert’.

So, is it me, or do we dread these formal, awkward, life-wasting invitations, as much as the people inviting us dread us showing up? Is it me, or would we all be much happier if we stopped inviting and attending? You invite me so that I don’t feel left out, you ask me to come so that you do the ‘nice’ thing. And then the ball’s on my corner. And of course I accept so that you don’t get offended.

Well done. We just ended in the same room once again. Good work. Let’s go have a dreadful evening now, shall we? After you…

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