I’m somewhat of a control freak in certain aspects of my life. It’s true that I consider seeing the calendar for the upcoming school year a small thrill, the entire year laid out on a single sheet of paper. But it’s also true that I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy spur of the moment…earlier this month I decided to go out of town for the weekend with two kids in tow a mere hour before walking out the door. (I like to think that I succeeded in the 20 minute packing experience on that occasion, though I failed to time myself).
It might be this mix of control freak/impulsiveness that makes me a poor choice for planning outings for large groups of people. When it comes to new things, if it’s not immoral, unethical, overly painful or otherwise self destructive and doesn’t involve sitting still for long periods of time, I’ll usually at least try. So normally just agreeing to whatever my friends want to do works fairly well for me.
I’m near impossible to reach by phone anyway and my social compass is such that I forget that not every last human being would spend an hour or three together as happily as I would wish them to. For that reason, when I really want to do something specific my inclination is to inform friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and virtual strangers of my plans in hopes that someone more organized than I am will be interested in going AND remember to show up.
That is how I came to invite my son’s third grade teacher, two virtual teetotalers, a couple of heavy drinkers, an almost complete stranger, and a neighbor or two among others all on the same outing, even encouraging a phone call or two between people who had never met. Although the event was fun, the planning process in and of itself led to several amusing conversations:
Between me and one of the near teetotalers:
I’ve just described finding out that the supposed coffee house where we’ll be going out is, in fact, a bar. Tammy, one of the teetotalers says something I can’t quite hear about Karen a relatively heavy drinker, but which I think is, “Because she’s going to need it.”
Me – “Who’s going to need what?”
Tammy – “Karen’s going to need alcohol.”
Me – “With the assortment of people I’ve invited, we’re ALL going to need alcohol!”
In the lunch room at work:
Me - “No. Gan’s Indonesian, but they’re not the same person. They don’t even know each other.”
Coworker – “Is Gan your boyfriend?”
Me – “NO! Gan’s not my boyfriend! Gan HAS a boyfriend!”
Gan actually has a husband, not a boyfriend, but that was not what happened to come out of my mouth at that moment.
Another conversation with a close to teetotaler:
"Well, you drank in
Followed by this exchange with one of my children’s coach (did I mention I also invited a coach?) after I had mentioned Gan would be “definitely coming” and that it might be a less than suitable outing for homophobes. Coach says something about not having adequate experience with which to measure his level of homophobia, at which point Cassie pipes up loud and clear that SHE has a fear of NEEDLES and proceeds to describe her pneumonia related needle experience.
The look of surprise and/or shock on coach’s face is clear, but I can’t be sure whether it reads:
- I forgot she was listening
- I didn’t realize an 11 year old could decipher the word “homophobic”
- I didn’t realize when I woke up this morning I would be discussing homophobia with an 11 year old
Or some combination of the three
For the record, I stopped short of inviting my principal and an ex LA gang member, but only just (and mainly because I thought a couple of my coworkers might wring my neck).
This is why Jill should never make the plans for a night out. Jill should smile and nod and say, “Why YES! I’d LOVE to!” And, after all, it would be true the majority of the time.