I ran into someone whom I only casually know today. This person (name, gender and location of encounter withheld) said to me, “Oh, I’ve been wanting to see you!”
I looked at the speaker quizzically. “Really?” I asked. “Well, gosh, I live in the same place that I have lived for 21 years, I’m not that hard to find.”
The person looked away. “Oh, I never go to people’s houses!” I pinched my eyebrows together, trying to suppress my reaction, which principally consisted of skepticism. “Well,” I chirped helpfully. “I also have the same phone number that I have had for 21 years! You could call!” I gave the person a broad smile which I hoped look cheerful and not maniacal.
In response, the person started a wild fluttering of hands and a muttering about work, busy, home, tired. I maintained my smile and said, “Well, what was it you wanted to see me about?” The conversation lagged. Finally, the individual said, “I was just mentioning the other day that I wanted to see you!”
“And here I am!” I said, brightly. “How are you?” More muttering about work, tired, home. Then a hasty retreat was beaten.
I realize I was being a bit coy. I am aware, too, that the person’s original comment lacked sincerity. But I’m not very good with insincerity. You want to see me? Call me. You don’t want to see me? Don’t say you do. I do not believe for one minute that this person actually expressed a desire to see me. It is more likely that if this person was just talking about me, the subject was rank gossip, speculation or some comment about me that the person would be embarrassed to have me know. Anyone that wants to see me, sees me. And the people who care about me, call me. The people about whom I care, I call and see.
I’m not very good at small talk, but if you’re going to talk small, expect me to respond in kind. And that, my dear little ones, is a Mama Corinna fiat: Small talk deserves small answers. Or maybe even, smart-ass retorts.
And now I am smiling. Somehow, knowing that I flustered this person should not make me feel good, but it’s been a long and difficult month. However, I can feel my mother spinning in her grave. I can hear her saying Mary, Mary! Is that how I taught you to treat people??
So I promise, on my mother’s grave, that the next time I see this person, I will be really, really nice.
But it won’t be as deliciously fun as being deliberately obtuse.