Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I am NOT a stalker

Okay, here's the thing I did the other day that had my husband, my brother and my sister-in-law zinging all over me on Friday night, throwing around words like "stalker" and "possible molester" and "too frigging nice." They are a bunch of humorless bullies who obviously have no joy in their shriveled up, stone cold hearts while I am a glorious glowing goddess of gracious and generous goodwill to all and every time I burp, little pink hearts come out of my mouth and fly into the air like soap bubbles.

Through the generosity of Carol, WHO IS MY NICEST RELATIVE, Meelyn, Aisling, my husband and I were able to go out to dinner the other night. We elected to go to Golden Corral, which is one of my guiltiest pleasures: guilty, because it really just couldn't be much tackier, with its plastic plants and plastic plates and enormous buffet which is a monument to American gluttony, but a pleasure because 1) it is not ruinously expensive for a family of four to eat there; and 2) the food is amazingly good. Seriously. I mean, it's good if you like down home comfort food. You are not going to find coq au vin or any of that stuff the girls and I made last summer for Whisk Wednesdays out of the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. But if you like a salad with lots of different toppings to choose from, and fried shrimp and pork loin and mashed potatoes and cabbage au gratin and buttery corn and warm dinner rolls and bread pudding and Boston cream pie and...and....and....

Well, if you like all those things, you can find them at Golden Corral. I shut my eyes to the tawdry decor and wield a bottle of Heinz 57 (which I would eat on birthday cake) like a pro.

A couple of tables away, there were a husband and wife and their two young kids, who were absolutely adorable. The kids looked to be about seven (boy) and five years old (girl), and they were well behaved and cheerful and the whole family just warmed my loving heart. The little girl was particularly cute and had a husky belly laugh that rang out several times, making all of us at my table smile. The four of us at our table were having a very nice meal and I was feeling so very fond of Carol for surprising us with the money for a nice treat, so there was just a spirit of magnanimity in the air.

When we got up to leave, that family was leaving too. I put on my coat and picked up my purse and, as I walked past that little group on my way to the door, I said to the parents, "Your children are absolutely adorable."

They both smiled and said thank you and I walked on and THAT WAS IT. I did not engage them in conversation. I did not interrupt their meal. I did not grab their daughter, tuck her under my arm like a football, and sprint for the exit. I did not lean in and whisper "I see dead people" or "I know what you did last summer" or anything like that.

I complimented their children and WALKED ON.

So why my husband felt it was necessary to throw me under the bus and tell Pat and Angie that I had practically grabbed that woman's face in my two hands and squished it until she looked like a salmon and breathed my blue cheese dressing breath into her nostrils and demanded that she empty her wallet of all pictures of her offspring so that I could take them home and pin them up on the wall behind the shrine to my friend, Satan, I don't know. But I do know that I indignantly called him a twerp and maybe a few other things that I can't repeat on a family blog.

Pat and Angie were all, like, "Eeewww, you're so weird. Why do you talk to strangers? Why do you talk at all? Why can't you be more like us and be all reserved and quiet and just mind your own beeswax when you're out in public?"

I swear they acted like I'd just shown my boobs to some guy with a camera phone in a wild Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.

Hurt, I said, "I am a friendly person and I like to take the chance to spread a little LOVE in this bitter world."

Pat snorted. "No, it's more like you want to get involved in other people's lives because you're all, like, bossy."

I raised my eyebrows. "And you aren't?"

"I am bossy at work because I am the boss," he said with dignity.

"Eye em bossee at wurrrk becuz eye em the boss," I mocked him in a high-pitched voice.

"Oh, that is very mature." The kids all snickered.

"Ohh, that eez very maaaachurrrrr!"

"Okay, you two," Angie said, breaking up what was looking to be a very good slanging match. Pat and I retreated to our corners, disappointed, but my husband just hadn't yet had enough. He's kind of like Grima Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings, that spooky dude who tried to cause trouble between King Theoden and his niece and nephew, Heowyn and Eomer. I have watched those movies many times, so just shut up.

"She does that everywhere we go," he said. Angie and Pat both looked at me again and I sensed that I was losing Angie to the dark side.

"Everywhere?" she asked.

"Everywhere," my husband affirmed.

"You are kind of a stalker," she told me with a little giggle.

"People are probably snapping pictures with the cell phone cameras and posting them all over the internet and in post offices throughout the tri-county area: 'Beware this excessively cheery woman who compliments your kids!'" Pat said, pantomiming the actions of someone furtively snapping my photograph and then pinning up a poster.

"I am a NICE PERSON," I said heatedly.

"Yeah, sure," said Pat. "All I'm sayin' is just don't be coming around my table and telling me my kids are cute."

"Gee, thanks, Dad," said Kieren.

I sighed. "I know he's your dad, but just try to ignore him."

"He doesn't make it easy."

I turned a baleful glare on my brother. "And yet he claims that I am the stalker."

"You are so a stalker," Pat said, putting on his coat. "And maybe a white slaver or something. Hey, by the way, thanks for taking care of the kids. 'Preciate it."

"Go with God," I said grumpily, walking them to the door, where I resisted the urgent desire to give him a kick in the butt as he left. And if that's not an example of how pure-hearted a Christian I am, then I'd like to know what is, after the grief they all put me through.

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