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My friend Flossy came over for brunch today. At 87, she is the most outgoing, assertive, compassionate, and well-dressed woman I know. She likes to say that we used to be “roofmates”, since we lived in adjacent condos from 1998 to 2002. I like to say that she taught me the art of chit-chat.
Flossy is one of those older women who loves to visit…with anybody. Think of yourself standing impatiently in a grocery store line—or tapping your foot, checking your watch and rolling your eyes in a restaurant—and I would bet money Flossy had something to do with it. It used to bother me to no end when we’d go out for lunch and she would spend what seemed like forever visiting with the waitress. During one lunch a few years back, the visiting started during the ordering process, started up again every time the attentive waitress returned, went into full force when the food arrived cold, reared its ugly head again during the Delivery of the New Meal stage, and continued on and on during Flossy’s Acceptance of the Apology and Free Meal Coupon stage. That lunch, I really didn’t get a word in edgewise, and I told her how I felt.
“You embarrassed me,” I said.
She leveled me with a stare that I’m sure only comes from owls before they decide to eat a rat. “It’s called being social,” she said. “You could work on that yourself. And you never know—I might have been the only person who engaged that young woman in conversation today. She could have a lot of personal problems and I was the only person who showed interest in her today.”
So this is how the world works.
I have since swallowed a few chill pills. Instead of slumping in my chair and looking glum in Macy’s shoe department when Flossy takes visiting to a whole new level with another customer, not even a sales rep, I wander off and look for bright tops. She thinks I need more of those too, to go along with the manners she taught me.