A number of years ago I ran across a most puzzling social situation that continues to leave me baffled to this day. I had recently become friends with a gregarious woman I met at work. Although we didn’t work for the same organization, we’d run into each other around the building, and after a number of fun interactions, we struck up a fast friendship.
It may have been a bit too fast, however, because I immediately started having reservations about this lady. She was laugh-out-loud hilarious, sure, one of the many things that attracted me to her, but she was also INTENSE. The first night we went out and did something outside of the office she was already making plans for the two of us to go on holiday together. I’m a real “slow to warm” type, so I was a little taken aback by her general intensity, but got over it and chalked it up to her being just that – generally intense. Around this time she began working for another organization in another building, and the move did our burgeoning friendship good – at a bit of an arm’s length, I really enjoyed her company.
We had seen each other for a couple of coffee dates and dinners when my annual autumn party rolled around, and so I added her to the guest list. I knew from having gone to restaurants with her that she was a VERY picky eater (just the basics, no seasonings, no, um, taste) and so I planned accordingly. I had a buffet set up with a giant dish of stew, garlic mashed potatoes, salad and crusty bread, as well as a drinks bar – serving both alcoholic and non-alcoholic libations – but in the kitchen, just for my new friend, I had squirreled away some “stew without the stew” (translation: just the beef from the stew), a bowl of plain greens and whatever else I could find that was plain, plain, plain.
My friend was the first to arrive. She came in, played with the fur kids for a bit and seemed in good spirits. I gave her the rundown on the menu and told her that if she’d prefer, I also had a secret stash of goodies for her in the kitchen. She said she was good. I offered her a drink. She said she was good. Water even? Nope, she was – yup, you guessed it – good.
Not too long after that all of the other guests arrived and we got down to the serious business of eating. Everyone, that is, but my friend. Because as everyone had arrived and done the greetings thing, she had thrown herself into a chair…and that’s where she remained. As people came in and I began making introductions, she remained seated. My other guests actually had to go up to her on her throne and bow down a bit to introduce themselves. When I called everybody to the table, she remained seated. “Hey,” I gently inquired on one of my passes by the chair,”Everything okay? Would you like something to eat? How about that drink now?” She said she didn’t want anything and stayed seated. My parents, who were in attendance, kept casting puzzled glances over at this seemingly sullen woman who just refused to engage with anyone. The other guests began picking up on the weirdness, too, when the two hour mark had passed and she had not ONCE left the confines of her chair.
I tried to get her to play nice with the other kids a number of times, but I eventually gave up and decided to let her be – and ultimately, let her be forever. We’re not friends any more. But for the rest of that night, until I drove her home after the very last pleasant guest had left (a ride during which she was warmly chatty,) she remained seated in that damn chair, barely saying a peep to anybody and eschewing all offers of food or drink. It was SO WEIRD. During one of the last occasions we saw each other, I asked her about that evening – had she had a good time? “Of course!”, she chirped. “It was so nice meeting everybody.” Truly some of the oddest social behavior I’ve ever seen. I still have no explanation for what happened that evening. 1023-12