Two seemingly unrelated stories before Wednesday, during which I have promised not to whine. Or at least promised to try not to whine (this is so not going to work, Lainey).
A few years ago, we went to a picnic for one of M's co-workers. The usual group was there and I enjoyed all of them, although honestly it is hard to not feel stupid when you're sitting with a bunch of scientists and have nothing to contribute to the conversation. So we unpack our contributions to the picnic, and I kept trying to keep the topics away from neurodegenerative diseases and contaminated cell cultures. At some point, we're all sitting on the blanket, looking out at the ocean and I was telling a story of how difficult it was for us while M was finishing his doctoral thesis. After all, we were two graduate students in a relatively new relationship, on two different continents, separated by time zones, low budgets, family obligations and demanding schedules. I get to the part where I would feel guilty calling him before I went to bed (morning his time), afraid that I'd be distracting him as he reviewed notes and transcripts.
This is when the only other non-scientists in the group (who really is a nice guy) jumps in and says, "YOU?! Distract HIM?! You couldn't distract him if you tried!"
To his credit, he was trying to compliment M's dedication and focus. To my credit, I just gasped for air and didn't punch him. It's one thing to know your shortcomings, it's another thing for a stranger to point at them and laugh.
I remember this story tonight because we were going to a concert at the beach with most of the same group of people. For the past couple of days I was in a twisty knot, reminding myself to ignore his poorly executed jokes and compliments--thinking that if it came down to it, I could distract someone, somehow.
I was trying to put the AARP membership card debacle behind me. I really was. Until I went to Costco, I was doing fine. There I was thinking of ways to use a two gallon jar of artichokes and putting my items on the belt, when I noticed the very old, feeble man behind me. He was almost falling into his cart reaching for a giant box of something or another. He was short, the box was big and heavy. I had an opportunity to get my good deed of the day out of the way. So I offered to help him place his items on the conveyor belt behind my own. He looked at me for a minute and accepted the offer. As I was moving his things out of the cart, he looked at me and said, "I'm not as young as I used to be."
I laughed at his understatement and said, "None of us are. I just got an invitation to join AARP."
He looked at me again and nodded, "You still look pretty decent. You have a good..."
I cannot repeat what he said. I was so shocked I turned beet red and dropped his tuna cans. When I saw the optimistic look on his face, I turned even redder. I'm amazed there was any blood left in my body that hadn't shot to my head.
I could not pay for my stuff and get out of there fast enough.
I think the moral of these two stories are, while I may not be able to get the attention of young, intelligent men; almost blind, dirty old men will still give me a look if I wave a membership card in their face. Burn the AARP card.