Monday, August 16, 2010

Cancelled Plans

(My latest quilt, which I started before taking my quilt class, which is why it is decidedly off-kilter. But still cute, right?)

Some friends were supposed to come over for lunch today. These are newish friends of mine who are also newish friends of each other, and I was looking forward to hanging out with them. Unfortunately, children were struck by Strep (not my children, fortunately), and we've had to reschedule.

All this was known by late last night, after I'd done some prep work, but not everything. I had a lot of cleaning left this to do this morning that I didn't have to do after all, which in one way was a relief--two hours of cleaning avoided!--but also a disappointment. One of my favorite things about having company is getting to enjoy a clean house (and leftovers) afterward. It's a lot of work, but the pay-off is grand.

I will say I had a very nice menu planned: Chicken salad on croissants, pasta with pesto, fruit salad, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Now I have a lot of croissants crowding up my kitchen counter. If I gain five pounds by the end of the week, you know why.


Since lunch was canceled, we ended up going to buy Jack's books at Our Fine Middle School. Yep, you heard right: we have to buy Jack's books. That came as a total shock last year; this year, I was prepared for it. You can get a lot of the books used, but Jack always wants them new, so we struggle and dicker. He gets straight As, and you could make the argument that school books are like his sports equipment. You could also argue that come winter, he might like a winter coat, but we will have spent all our money on school books.

I had my first "foot in my mouth trying to make small talk" moment of the 2010-2011 school year. I ran into a very nice woman I know slightly and often make pleasant chit chat with. She was wearing a very cute skort from Land's End--I knew it was from Land's End because I had ordered one for myself last summer. When I got it, it was a little tight and a little short. I thought maybe I'd lose weight and it would look better, but I didn't lose weight, and there's no guarantee that I will ever lose weight (and I don't need a skort mocking me from my closet if I don't), so I put it in the bag of stuff to be given away.

When I saw Ann, I said, "I had that same skirt, but you look so much cuter in it than I ever did. I ended up giving mine to Good Will. You look great, though."

Ann just laughed and said, "Oh, you're sweet to say that," but as I walked away I wondered, did she think I was saying I thought she'd picked up my old skort at Good Will? Did she think I was some shrewish, passive-aggressive awful person insinuating she is the sort of person who looks great--in my hand-me-downs?

Amy assured me later in the afternoon that I was over-thinking things, but as one of my best friends, it's Amy's job to try to convince me I didn't just make a complete ninny out of myself.

Well, it's that time of year, isn't it? The time of year when I must pledge to quit making small talk beyond, "Great to see you!" and "Love your hair!" I must stop trying to do something I am so perfectly incapable of--and that makes me so miserable afterward. Ann probably didn't take my comment the wrong way, but I still spent an hour worrying about it.

And so, my friends, I am taking the No Small Talk Pledge for the upcoming school year and social season. Anyone care to join me?


Pom Pom said...

Oh, Frances. Thank you for the good laugh! That's SO funny, I'm sorry, but it REALLY is! I laughed when you said, "I don't need a skort mocking me from the closet." Maybe Anne is a frugal shopper, shops at Goodwill and is actually wearing your skort. It could happen. Just this morning, I was looking out the window at my neighbor who wears skorts every day! I thought to myself, "I just don't really like skorts." You are so funny. Really, post more often. It helps me stay jolly. Oh, YIKES I can't believe you buy school books. We are not supposed to ask parents to buy ANY extra text books, even though we want to.

GretchenJoanna said...

I don't know, Frances....don't we have to start with small talk? With many people it takes years before you can progress further. Or maybe I don't know what you mean by small talk. It isn't always idle talk. Often I think we show our love for other people by being willing to talk about the weather, etc. Perhaps it's flattery we need to avoid :-)

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Pom Pom, I will try to post more often, if it makes you happy. And yes, I don't know if skorts are really a great idea when you get right down to it. Oh, and Our Fine School is a private school, which is why it gets away with making us purchase books in middle school.

GretchenJoanna, Exactly! No flattery, no trying to make jokes. Idle talk--small talk; that's a good distinction. I give myself permission to discuss the weather and the state of my garden. Those are safe topics for me, and hopefully don't leave me much room to mess up. Tho knowing me, I will.

Tracy said...

LOVE your quilt. It's gorgeous.

We need to have neat-freakish people over so that the clean gets done properly!!! Lots of work, but you have to love the results for about a week afterwards!

I'm going back your friend Amy up and say you've over-thought the whole thing way too much. If I were that other lady I would have simply been thinking "I'm so sad that you missed out on wearing something you'd paid for, that you loved".

Perhaps, being me, I then might have thought "wish I'd been in Goodwill when Frances donated her skort".

Gumbo Lily said...

I just heard on the news that in some states, students have to bring a 4-pak of toilet paper this year. Budget cuts ya know! Books sound a little more scholarly to me than TP.

About the small talk. Keep it up. It makes for interesting blog posts! We all need to know we are not alone.

I adore your quilt. Makes some of those almond croissants --


wayside wanderer said...

What a lovely quilt! You are doing great!

This past week I stuck my foot in BAD. I was getting my teeth cleaned and somehow the gal brought up labor and I went into some detail about my rather strongly opinionated thoughts about episiotomies. As the hygenist's eyes were getting bigger and rounder by the moment I happened to glance down and that was when I noticed that she was very pregnant! big mouth. Why did I not notice that sooner???? She is pregnant with her first baby! I probably terrified her and I was kicking myself the whole way out of that office. Sheesh.

Susan said...

When I was a brooding and angst-ridden teenager, my grandfather once said to me, "You wouldn't worry so much what people were thinking of you if you realized how infrequently they did it." At first I was agast! Then I thought about it and realized I didn't agonize over what other people said to me as much as I was almost paralyzed by rehashing what it was that I said.

Now that I'm over 40, I'm trying to apply my granfather's advice and it ususally only takes me a phone call to rant, repent, or repeat what I've said to a certain friend in NC before I can let of a social gaff that I've made. I've decided these are all moments for great stories and it's the stories that are important and fun.

With two kids and a husband, there are much more important things to spend my time worrying about than the ridiculous things I might say in an awkward social situation.

Remind me to tell you of the time I had to leave a committee meeting at church because I couldn't stop laughing when our minister, after listing the disadvantages of our current pipe organ, announced, "But what our organs do do." Do do. I couldn't get a grip. Esp. juxtaposed to organs. It was my Mary Tyler Moore at Chuckles the Clown's funeral moment. Snickering turned to a snort, turned to more and more odd noises as I tried to gain composure. I eventually had to flee the room. I look back it now and can't remember a funnier moment in my life.

GretchenJoanna said...

Also, I do love your quilt, even if it is skewed. It confirms what I did hope already, that homemade quilts are very dear, partly because, or at least in spite of the fact that they are not factory-perfect. The colors of this one, contrasted with all the white, are very appealing....and I wonder if I ever will get to making a quilt again.
I admire you so--all that work!

victoria said...

I dig the quilt.
I always enjpy your reports from the social jungle of school land. I'm working really hard (really really) at being able to sustain small talk these days but still manage to say a lot of stupid things or too-serious-for-the-moment things, especially to people I'm attempting to become friends with.

magsmcc said...

I think your school gates and ours are the self-same place. Except it's all Boden and Avoca here! And don't even think about going shopping without your Cath Kidston bag! Happily there are obviously those of us left who need visitors to have a clean house- I nearly said hygienic, but mine actually passed my Mother Test yesterday, which has to be a first.

Ali said...

Oh don't don't give up on the small-talk. It makes for such great blog fodder!!

I can laugh, because it would so have been me putting my foot in my mouth.

debbie bailey said...

You're a hoot! I hate to make small talk. That's why I always ask deep, insightful questions as soon as I meet someone. Sometimes it throws them off; well, it usually throws them off. I can see the bewilderment in their eyes.

I always hate when someone asks me how I'm doing. They really don't care, but sometimes I very seriously launch into a detailed explanation of my life at the moment just to show them that I'm listening to them.. I love the halting expression, the stuttering, and then hearing them really get into our conversation. I'm so mischievous.