Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Grand Finale: Welcome to Weston

Before a relationship ends, there's a moment when the reality that it needs to, in fact, end becomes clear, when you just say, "All right, I've had enough of this." My moment happened at Offerdahl's bagel shop, seated across from Esther, and Esther's other best friend, "Rosie."

Just as Esther isn't really Esther's name, Rosie isn't a real name either. I picked it because this woman kind of reminds me of Rosie O'Donnell. And I don't mean that necessarily in bad way; a lot of people love Rosie O'Donnell. I don't mind her; I like, though, that she lives inside of my TV set, and when I've had enough of her, I can just click her goodbye. This was not the case with the Weston, Rosie, unfortunately: she's the kind of person, who, if you were trying to quietly read a book in a doctor's waiting room and she was sitting across from you, gabbing on her cell phone, you suddenly couldn't concentrate on the words...even if she was just calling her husband to ask him if he needed anything from the grocery store.

Because she wouldn't just say, "Do we need milk?" She'd say, "We need to make room in the backyard for a COW, honey, with all the milk our kids drink. Or maybe I just need to have another baby so I can lactate and NURSE everyone instead."

In recent weeks, I'd spent a little time alone with Rosie--during which she had vented quite a bit about Esther. At first it was a relief to hear someone say some of the things I'd silently observed myself: that Esther could be a snob, and cold, and secretive. That her story always shifted its shape depending on who she was talking to. But having been schooled on how to be a good girlfriend in St. Louis, the friendship capital of my world at that point in my life, I never agreed with Rosie when she bashed Esther. I just smiled politely and changed the subject.

It was especially uncomfortable for me to hear her venting because Esther had plenty of unpleasant things to say about Rosie, too (all things that anyone would say about Rosie--it took true restraint not to observe that she ate with her mouth open and talked about her husband's salary too often and too loudly). But I also remained silent when Esther vented, though more out of loyalty to Esther than to Rosie. Because aside from me, Rosie was Esther's only friend. It seemed disloyal to her to speak destructively about Rosie, if that makes any sense at all.

So, anyway, we were an awkard trio. And there we were, that fateful afternoon while our kids were cutting paper Stars of David at school and our babies were sleeping in strollers parked alongside each other, lining our table at Offerdahl's.

Esther and Rosie were playing a game with me that was a little bit like non-sexual footsie, where they'd make veiled comments about each other to me and give me a look that was kind of like nudging me under the table. It was so subtle you had to be a woman very much in touch with middle school girl meanness to pick up on it; it bobbed just below the surface during the ebb and flow of the most banal stay-at-home-mom chitchat.

Esther said something about not liking the preschool our kids went to, and Rosie said, subtlely, "I know you worry your kids aren't challenged enough at the school, but..." and gave a knowing smile to me. See, I told you she was a snob, that smile read. A few minutes later, Rosie complained, innocently enough, about being tired, and Esther said, "You really shouldn't go out and party all night and get drunk. I worry about your diabetes." See, I told you she's a trainwreck, Esther's smug little look said to me.

I sighed, searching for something innocuous to say, regretting right then and there that I'd agreed to come to this lunch in the first place. And regretting, quite frankly, that I'd allowed myself to become so intimately involved in this strange, suffocating circle. Not wanting to step into a landmine, I simply mentioned that it was very cold in Offerdahl's today, and that they should lower the air-conditioning.

That was when I saw it: a look, between Esther and Rosie. "Are you cold?" Esther asked her trainwreck friend.

"Not at all. Are you?" Rosie said to the woman she'd described to me as a cold, weird snob.

Esther raised her eyebrow at Rosie and then pursed her lips at me. "Maybe you're so cold because you're not eating enough."

"Yeah," shot back Rosie, "you're always on a diet."

Now, to be fair, I was probably on my 30th diet of 2006 by then, as it was mid-October, and I'll never deny that I know by heart the caloric content of just about any food regularly consumed in the United States. Having my dieting neurosis pointed out to me wasn't what bothered me. It was that look, between the two of them. They're talking about me with each other as much as they talk about each other too me, I finally figured out. That I am a slave the scale and the elliptical and am no fun when they want to eat brownies. Got it.

That was my aha! moment. Did I really want to be friends with people who were going to scrutinize everything I said for evidence of my flaws? Not that I didn't have plenty of them...but, as I learned from the Missouri mamas, to a true friend flaws are something you don't gossip about. You try to help your girlfriend out, or, if it's not dangerous, you learn to overlook the flaw, or even find it endearing.

Yeah, I'd had enough. Being alone was definitely a better option than bagels with two women I actually didn't like at all. And who apparently didn't like me.

Fortunately, I didn't remain alone much longer on that. But to read about my first real friends in Weston, you'll have to wait for the Epilogue...(to be continued)


Sarah said...

Man - I don't think I could handle all that drama. Give me a straight talking friend anyday...even if I don't like what they say all the time!

Can't wait for the epilouge

kellyioki said...


Oi. We both need rooms of our own.
Let's make that happen in Denver...I'll convince Laco to open a little French cafe, where we can pore through each others pages making notes.

prashant said...

I don't think I could handle all that drama

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kanishk said...

.even if I don't like what they say all the time!

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