Saturday, August 29, 2009

All I Wanted Was Some Damn Gelato

Okay, before you all start chewing your own arms off in anticipation, here is what I wore the first day of school:

Cute, right? By which I mean an appropriate amount of cute, just enough cute to take the edge of the SERIOUS PROFESSIONALISM. Keeping it simple with black and white, just adding that pop of color with my shoes. (And don't be the one asshole who has to point out that there's a big smudge on the mirror and what the hell is my problem can't I just clean off the damn mirror? Yes, asshole, I can clean off the mirror and, in fact, did before the next four days of outfits:)

The dress on day 1, shirt and shoes on day 2, shirt and shoes on day 4, and shirt on day 5 were all new purchases over the summer, and even though the shirt on day 3 was not new, I actually didn't wear it all last year, so it was new to the people at Christian School.

I am setting way too high a bar for myself, aren't I? Crap.


In totally unrelated news, I really have to tell you about the heaping spoonful of CRAZY I experienced this afternoon. There I was, sitting at school, grading some papers, when I decided I needed some gelato. You might argue that no one ever really needs gelato, but I am telling you that I did, I needed gelato, and if you do want to argue that no one needs gelato, well then I will poke you in the eye. And my fingernails are sharp, so you really don't want me poking you in the eye.

After I get my necessary work done and pack up the rest to take home, I drive downtown to get my absolutely necessary gelato. I walk into the store and there's a guy already there, getting ready to order. Behind the counter is a man in his 50's, probably the owner. (If he's not the owner, or at least related to the owner, I have to wonder why the hell he can't get a better job. Then again, the economy being what it is, who am I to judge?) I'm just waiting quietly, but while 50-Something is getting this other customer's gelato they strike up a bit of small talk.

Now, I could be annoyed by the small talk, but honestly, I'm watching them go, and I determine that the small talk isn't actually slowing down their exchange, so I'll still get my gelato fairly quickly. Instead, I listen to the small talk, and then I get annoyed, because I start to realize that behind that counter, 50-Something is sitting on a high horse and I just hadn't realized it. And what is he "high-horsing" about? Huge philosophical issues? No, the weather.

Basically, here's their exchange:

Customer: "It's hot out today, huh?"

50-Something: "You call this hot? This isn't hot at all. Where are you from?"

Customer: "England originally."

50-Something: "Oh, well I guess to you it's hot. But imagine if you were on the other side of the world, in the Middle East or something. This would be COOL to you."

Customer: "Uh, yeah, I suppose that's true."

They continue this for a few rounds and I'm silently rolling my eyes behind my sunglasses. I hate this kind of jackass behavior, where you're not allowed to think a certain way because someone else has it worse. Like just because it's hotter somewhere else it means it's not hot here. Give me a break, 50-Something.

So the customer guy pays for his gelato and 50-Something turns to me and I order mine, and I figure everything will be fine now, right? Wrong. Customer turns to me and asks what I think, is it hot or not? In retrospect, I really should have made a non-committal response like, "It's okay," or, "I don't know, so-so I guess." That would have saved me time and grief and probably spared me a new wrinkle in my forehead from what I had to endure later. But no, I said, "Yeah, I definitely think it's hot."

Well 50-Something was just waiting for this, because he starts off again on how it's not as hot as it is elsewhere and blah blah. So I think I can head him off at the pass with a lighthearted comment that can simultaneously ease the tension and make a point. (I always think I can handle these things better than I actually can.) So I'm all, "Well, of course it's all relative. I mean, if we were on the surface of the sun we'd have a completely different perspective."

It was funny in my head, I swear.

Customer guy gives a courtesy chuckle, but 50-Something seems to have decided that I've personally disrespected him somehow. He goes into a lecture about how there's no reason to bring up something ridiculous like the surface of the sun when I can just consider the people in full combat gear fighting in Afghanistan, who are obviously feeling the heat much more than I am. And I get the distinct impression that I've just been subtly accused of something for my failure to agree with him about the heat - I'm not sure what exactly he accused me of, but it was probably somewhere between "patriotic apathy" and "hardcore terrorism."

I try to placate him by telling him that I was in Africa not that long ago, which was much hotter than here. He seems pleased, but I can't leave well enough alone so I point out that in spite of my trip to the hotter regions of the world I still find the current weather very hot. After all, just because something else has been hotter, doesn't mean this isn't still hot, right?


He is unamused.

Fortunately, I've already gotten my gelato out of his hands, so he can't do anything to hurt me too badly. I ignore his dirty looks and pay my money, when suddenly Mr. Originally From England asks me where I went in Africa. And what was I doing there? And what do I do for a living? And-


Before you get all excited, no, he's not cute. He's actually kind of weird looking. And about half my size. Okay, in height he's only an inch or two shorter, but in width he's half my size. And it's not like I'm a hugely obese person taking up full doorways at a time. No, he's just waifish.

But now he's hitting on me and I'm thinking, "Okay, fine, I was going to sit down to eat my beloved gelato anyway, so I'll chat with him while I'm doing that." So we sit and he's a total nerd, which is fine because I like nerds, but the conversation is kind of awkward and I just want to enjoy my gelato in peace. But we keep talking and it's fine I suppose, when all of a sudden this Indian guy with a backpack walks up to us and starts talking to British Nerd about the sun and the heat.

(I almost sent him into the gelato place, because I swear he and 50-something would have gone at it for HOURS arguing about the damned heat.)

Seriously, though, he's thanking British Nerd for bringing the sun and the warm weather. And British Nerd is so jovial in his response that I am at first a) convinced he knows this guy, and b) almost convinced that he actually caused the sun to come out somehow. But they keep having this totally random back-and-forth about how British Nerd is in charge of the weather and it suddenly becomes apparent that Indian Guy is drunk, on drugs, insane, mentally disabled, or some combination of any of the above, and that British Nerd is just trying to be polite in a very weird situation.

So at this point I'm feeling completely awkward and I decide to make a joke to lighten the mood. And seeing how well this worked last time I tried, I'm sure you can guess where this is going. So I turn to British Nerd and I'm all, "Oh, so we have you to thank for this heat, huh?" And he laughs and says, "Yeah, sorry, I'll check the thermostat." And Indian Guy turns his squinty, shifting eyes on me and goes, "WHY ARE YOU SO PROUD?"

Uh... what?


Yeah, that's how much sense it made to me too.

And suddenly he's pressing me for an answer and I'm all, "I'm proud of lots of things." And he's asking if I'm proud of myself and who I am and I'm like, "Yeah, sure, definitely, yes," because I'm hoping if I'm agreeable he'll go away or at least not dismember me in public. This was apparently what he needed to introduce his pride in himself because he jumps into how proud he is to be a strong Indian man, which then becomes a "dirty Indian" (I'm directly quoting him here), and then a Mexican, and then a Brazilian. I'm glad at this point that both British Nerd and I have our sunglasses on because it means even when we look away from Indian (or Mexican, or Brazilian) Guy we're not making eye contact with each other, because however awkward this situation is, it's 10 times more awkward because you're with someone you just met on what could arguably be called a "first date."

So Indian Guy asks what I'm proud of again and I take a cue from him to talk about my heritage and I say I'm proud to be American. But of course he doesn't buy this because Americans all came from somewhere else so I have to be proud of my heritage and didn't I come from Britain? But aha! I have an ace up my sleeve he doesn't know about, so I'm all, "I'm Cherokee, we were here before the British settled the colonies." But of course this doesn't go well because drunk people (and I'm fully convinced by this point that he's drunk) don't appreciate logic, so he returns to accusing me of being proud and asking what I'm so proud of.

So I try a different tack and say, "I'm proud to be a Christian." But wow, that was the wrong thing to say, because he goes off on how he deeply loves Jesus Christ because Jesus, Mohammad, and Buddha were all from India and he's proud because he's Indian and I should always remember that Jesus came from India. Of course he's becoming more and more intense now, and when he throws the first F-bomb I stand up and go, "Well, it's time to go," because the last thing I need to do on my Saturday afternoon is get cussed at by a drunk Indian Guy. Or a drunk anybody, actually.

But British Nerd is convinced that our spontaneous "date" is not over yet and he follows me, and I can't blame him because I would want to get away from Indian Guy any way I could, including following someone I just met. There are a few moments of terror where we wonder if Indian Guy will follow us, but he doesn't and we walk away. Secretly, I am hoping he got a sudden craving for gelato.

British Nerd follows me to the bookstore, then follows me around to flip through an assortment of random things before eventually I pull the classic, "Uh, I really gotta be going now..." line and start walking towards my car. But first we have to exchange information, which I hope will not mean I will be forever stalked and harassed via email, and finally I am free to go.

And I get to my car and I'm like, "Seriously, I really did not need that gelato."


brooke said...

Oh. My. Word. What a bizarre day.

Clairebear said...

you poor thing. All you wanted was gelato.
Maybe you need to find a new gelato store? :P

Mrs. Chili said...

Holy WOWIE! Next time you need gelato, Honey (and I fully concede that sometimes, we NEED it), go to the grocery store. I know it's not QUITE the same, but you run a lot less risk of spontaneous dates at the market...

unmitigated me said...

I think you may be mistaken about nerd guy. Maybe you should reply if he e-mails...

Anonymous said...

Are you a Christian or just teaching at a Christian school? If you think #1, perhaps leave that info out because the salty language is confusing to the identity. Is it used to be funny? That seems to be the trend. Sadly.

Still Jill B said...

Okay, 1 - good storytelling. and 2 - "Anonymous", wtf? ;)

fjd said...

I agree with Middle Aged Woman. One sign a guy is a gentleman is he talks with anyone in an honest and engaged way, and it seems in your story that BN does just that.

Lara said...

Anonymous - Thank you for the food for thought, even if it was a bit judgmental in tone.

Middle Aged Woman and FJD - First, let's see if British Nerd even emails. Secondly, it was just a super awkward afternoon even AFTER we got away from the weirdos, and I'm not sure I want to repeat that level of awkwardness a second time. And third, to consider a long-term relationship, he has to be Christian. And I don't know if he is.

Jessica R. said...

Seriously, I think that next time you should order your gelato without the side of crazy or awkward.
But it did make for some awesome reading!

Anonymous said...

Love the new clothes, the spontaneous insanity not so much.

BetteJo said...

You can't start reading something like that and NOT finish it. It's like one really long train of thought. I love it! The gelato story I mean. :) Clothes are cute too - you look blonde btw, or is that the lighting?

Mrs. C. said...

haha that's pretty hilarious. Seriously, what part of town were you in? maybe you should find a new gelato place. haha

flutter said...

I would so send you some gelato, if only it would keep.

Lisa said...

Umm, I kinda feel like I was all about the gelato with you and yay for you for getting it until I read the whole story and then I almost wished you had not gotten the gelato. And frankly I have never wished that on anyone!
And I STILL want to go shopping with you. I swear, I'm not a stalker, I just love all of your clothes!

Lara said...

Lisa - You let me know when you're in my neck of the woods. I will shop with you ANY TIME. :)

bernthis said...

all that for a freakin gelato? I would have run out of there and settled for a Jamba Juice just to get away from these folks

Kennethwongsf said...

Well, I am proud of you for handling a bad situation with dignity and grace (as much as anyone could have possibly mustered), then recollecting the episode with such vividness to be able to craft this wonderful essay afterward.