So I’m trying to eat lunch at a local restaurant a few months ago. Daylight Saving Time had just come to an end and I was feeling the cranky grog that overcomes night owls like me when forced to rise and shine before the sun thinks it’s a good idea to follow suit. I ordered a spicy lunch and settled down with a beverage and a book. Just as I was getting into the first chapter, the hostess walked by with two women in tow. The first woman I’ll call “Gloria” looked like a leftover relic from the seventies. Looking far older than her 55-60 years, her gray hair hung in long, limp layers that had been haphazardly rolled around a curling iron. Her gray suit jacket matched her hair and did nothing to help the drab brown blouse she had paired with mousy green pants. Her face was free of makeup and her reading glasses hung around her neck by a tarnished “gold” chain. The second woman I’ll call “Jean” was the antithesis of Gloria. Jean’s navy pantsuit was beautifully matched to a delicate white blouse, sapphire ring, and modern eyeglasses. Her makeup was perfectly applied and her soft face belied the age I supposed to be around 65 years. The hostess seated Gloria and Jean at a table right behind me. With these two characters within earshot, I knew reading was going to be an exercise in futility.
As they mulled their menus, I could hear one of them chattering for quite a while about nothing in particular. The voice was excited and happy, but not obnoxious in any way. I assumed this voice was Jean’s. I was able to get the entire first chapter read and welcomed my lunch in this amount of time. As the server left for the kitchen with Gloria and Jean’s order, I was already heartily enjoying the uplifting spice of my chicken dish. I thought, “How nice to have a friend like Jean who can sit with someone as dour as Gloria and talk about everything and nothing all at the same time”. I smiled to myself and kept reading.
Then, it happened.
I heard a long sigh followed by a snort: “Don’t you just hate the time change? I mean, can’t they leave it alone for once?” I assumed Gloria was complaining with a mundane voice as drab as her wardrobe. “I have so many clocks in my house and I had to change them all. First there was the clock right by my bed. George bought that thing and I always struggle with changing the time on it. Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned wind up clock?” I stopped my attempts at reading and thought to myself, “Perhaps that ticking drove some people crazy to the point the digital clock caught on, hmmm?” Gloria kept going while I ate my chicken, “Then I had to change the clock on George’s side of the bed which is as hard to change as mine is. Then I had to change the clock on the back of the toilet.”
This made me pause and almost snicker out loud. Who has a clock on the back of the toilet? Apparently, George and Gloria do. By this time, the server brought the small appetizer they had decided to share as their meal and Gloria was not phased in the slightest, “Thank you. That looks a little smaller in real life than it does on the menu. Anyway, then I had to change the one in the laundry room with the birds on it. You know that one George gave me that makes a different bird sound every hour? And then I had to change the one in the kitchen that is right by the pantry. Well, it’s not right by the pantry but it’s pretty close. You know that picture I have of the apples? It’s hanging very nearby with different kinds of fruit on it. So that took a few minutes and then I had to wash it off because it was starting to get dusty. Then I had to change the one on the living room mantle which always scares me because it’s so old.”
By this time, I had finished my chicken and was silently begging my server to come back so I could pay and leave. Gloria’s droning about her clocks was giving me that feeling I get when I hold my breath too long under water … slightly fuzzy with a headache and lung burn that threatens to push me into acts of desperation.
“Then I had to change the one in the formal living room that I say is a grandmother clock but George swears is a grandfather clock. Whatever it’s gender, I hate changing it. Then I had to change the one by the front door that has the pictures of flowers painted on the frame. I mean the clock has the painted flowers, not the front door, but you know what I mean. Then I had to change the one in the hallway outside the room where the girls used to sleep. Then I had to change the one dining room …”
Now I had written a threatening note with some lip liner on the back of a takeout menu and dared the server to take another second bringing me my check.
“Then I had to change the one on the back porch that matches the barometer next to it. I wish it wasn’t green, but you know how much George loves green. And then I had to change the one in my car. And then I had to change the one in the garage.”
The server got the message and brought me my check. I told him there would be a big tip involved if he hurried the heck up.
“Then I had to change the one in the kitchen window because I got so busy cleaning the dust off the fruit clock that I forgot about the one in the window. Then I had to change the one on the microwave.”
Why does this broad have so many freakin’ clocks! Get me out of here! I kinda wanted dessert today but forget it now.
“Then I had to change the one in the guest bedroom, not that we ever have any company. Then I had to change the one in the guest bathroom.”
Two bathroom clocks? Who times their poo poos? Every second you delay this check is another dime off your tip there, Server Dude.
“Then I had to change the one in George’s car because he’s perfectly happy to drive around town with the wrong time on the clock and I just can’t stand that. Then I had to change the one basement near the furnace room. Then I had to change the one …”
Now the server had brought me my change. I flung a few bucks on the table and proceeded to sprint as fast as I could without looking like a woman possessed. I turned to take one last look at the table of doom before raced to my car when I was struck by something amazing. Madame Boredom was not the drab, boring Gloria. It was Jean. Behind that perfectly coiffed hair and $800 eyeglasses was the most dry, pitiful, whining specimen ever imagined. The first voice I had heard, the happy fun-loving voice I had so admired, had belonged to Gloria, muddy colored clothes and all.
I learned three valuable lessons from this lunch of terror:
1) Just because I try to match my clothes to my personality does not mean I can use that as a measuring stick for everyone else.
2) It is OK, not to mention merciful, to interject comments and change the subject if necessary.
3) When I am of retirement age, I will sign up for a salsa dancing class, a self-defense class, a vagina-pride rally … ANYTHING shocking or weird just to remind me that there is life outside of my petty complaints.
And I will NOT have that many clocks, I don’t care how old I get.
© Bertha Grizzly 2011. All Rights Reserved. No duplication or distribution.