There I was in the hipster sandwich shop (the one that gives the Panther rage, with its cute double entendre names and instagram-friendly chalk board) waiting for the chap to squirt patterns with dressing on my salad.
I had headphones in and I was listening to Anna Burns’ brilliant Milkman, totally content and anticipating a tasty (and decorative) lunch. Then I realised the chap, was speaking to me, presumably some urgent meal-in-a-cardboard-box related question, so I returned to the Now. “Sorry. What did you say?”
“Are you ready for Christmas?”
So not a gherkin-no-gherkin investigation. “Um. Yes, thanks.”
Hopefully, that would serve to satisfy the question, maintain the affable relationship the food-making man and I had struck up minutes earlier when I, for expedience, was obliged to give my lunch it’s proper name. I had been proud of the going-with-the-flow, when-in-Rome chutzpah way I asked for a ‘Randi Scandi‘ rather than a salmon and potato affair.
I thought the elegant brevity of my answer (despite its lack of truth) to the season’s crappiest question would communicate my disinterest in pursuing this conversation as, clearly, neither of us gave an airborne organic fig about each other’s festive arrangements.
It’s OK. You don’t have to chat if you don’t want to.” He said, somewhat unnecessarily, and proceeded to a detailed demonstration of passive-agressive salad arranging.
Somewhat tardy, but here’s what I should have said:
No, young man, I am not ready. I still haven’t decided what we’re going to do for Christmas dinner and it’s almost certainly too late to book somewhere. My older children are away this Christmas and I’m hyperventilating about filling the void. There’s a posh party on Friday night and I’m fairly sure the dress I’ve got isn’t right and then, on that evening, how in the hell will I get home afterwards? There are presents for nephews that I still haven’t wrapped – though I have actually acquired, so that’s progress. I forgot crackers, are there any left? Yet, throughout this, there’s a growing voice in my head telling me that this is a double whammy of marketing-led and sexist bullshit. Why are women supposed to be earth-mothering over a seasonal delicacy and stuffing their freezers with delicious snacks for the visitors? Meantime, there is magic to manufacture and presents to buy and wrap for the new guinea pigs. Oh, and, I’ve got a full-time job too, remember?
So, yes, sandwich shop bloke, I probably was rude, but I really didn’t want to chat and, trust me, you didn’t want me to either.