M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Monday, January 06, 2003  

This is a story about three people. I only know one of them, and I haven’t seen her in years, but I still have to come up with pseudonyms for all of them. This Internet thing is hard, dude.

E-Beth was a co-worker and friend of Trash’s. Great sense of humor, which, given the amout of grief she’s taken about this story, turned out to be lucky for her.

Amelia was E-Beth’s best friend. Not so much for her with the sense of humor.

Nigel was the British guy that Amelia was dating at the time.

Got all that? Good.

So, it’s Nigel’s first visit to the States. Amelia wants him to have a positive experience, and meet her friends. In no uncertain terms, she briefs her friends, including E-Beth, that those two agenda items are not to be mutually exclusive. Be nice to Nigel. Make sure Nigel feels comfortable. Be friends with Nigel. E-Beth promises to comply with all due sincerity.

That evening, everyone’s together. Everything’s going fine. Nigel feels welcome, comfortable, and so on. They’re talking about days when work is so busy that the company brings in lunch (this was back in the mid-nineties, when that actually happened). Nigel is explaining how in London, the process is more formal than here. Instead of pizza boxes stacked haphazardly on a vacant desk, he describes how uniformed waiters come in, bearing trays of real food like beef stroganoff.

While he’s saying this, E-Beth sees him raise his hand. She thinks he’s going for a high-five. It’s kind of weird, but she’s under an injunction to make him feel at home and she’s not going to leave him hanging like that, even for a second. So she raises her own hand to return the gesture, cheering, “Yay! Beef stroganoff!”

The look he gives her is filled with confusion and terror. It’s then that E-Beth realizes that Nigel is not going for a high-five, but simply holding his hand as if he were carrying an invisible tray at shoulder level. He’s merely illustrating the concept of “waiter.” Sadly, E-Beth is already leaning across the table, hand extended. She’s committed. She continues to hold her hand up, nodding encouragingly and grinning like a loon. Finally, Nigel nervously returns the high-five, probably wondering if this reaction to the mention of beef stroganoff is some kind of weird Yank thing, and wondering also how quickly he’ll be able to grab some cutlery if he needs to defend himself from the nut bar across the table. Meanwhile, Amelia is wondering how quickly she’ll be able to grab some cutlery, because she’s decided to kill E-Beth.

I can never decide which of these three people I feel worse for in this story. You can see all of their points of view. Nigel’s heard all about how cool Amelia’s American friends are and one of them turns out to be prone to sudden fits of unprovoked soccer hooliganism. Amelia’s stressing out about whether her boyfriend is going to get along with her friends and their first meeting is marred by a faux pas of surrealistic dimensions. And poor E-Beth was just trying so hard to be nice to Nigel. Quite a bit too hard, as it turned out.

I have no idea what happened to everyone’s relationsships with each other after this, and I don’t really have to. It’s enough that in our house, beef stroganoff will forever be known as “yay, beef stroganoff!”

posted by M. Giant 3:00 PM 0 comments


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