Prunes and Prism

RULES FOR YOUNG LADIES: Some arch advice on snagging a husband. Exercising the mouth into a pretty shape through repetition of certain words seems to have been an indoor sport for young nineteenth-century girls; in Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens' overly bred girl repeats, "papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism." (Merrycoz.org)

Monday, June 12, 2006

In which I score another victory for international relations.

I feel sure the Germans must have a word for the impulse that forces you to do, in mortifying fashion, the very opposite of what you meant to do, a propensity proportional to the amount of time you spent reminding yourself not to do it. I can't be the only one?

Last week at my totally hypothetical job, one of my purely theoretical co-workers alerted me to an intern I hadn't noticed before, and told me that she'd had a surprising and alarming conversation with him about his support of the Islamist government of his native country. It's not a country our interns usually come from, and I was intrigued, and so next time I went to the ladies' room I thought I'd get a load of him as he sat in his cube. And of course he picked that second to look up and meet me eye to eye as I gawped openly, and there was nothing for me to do but smile insincerely and feel ashamed by what he must have thought: the old lady was cruising him.

I felt like the female version of an alter kocker, whatever that might be -- think Kathleen Turner, the pillowy version, as the Wife of Bath. And not in a good way.

So today he was standing at the sink, and I went to put my frittata in the microwave but then, as soon as I punched in my coordinates, realized he had something on a paper plate that he had likely been getting ready to heat up before I jumped in line, and I was trying to process this information when he went to reach just inches in front of me, going for a paper napkin, and I blurted, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"

Him: "I just want a napkin."

Me: "Oh! I thought you were getting ready to put something in the microwave! And I just jumped in front of you! That's so rude of me! But now I see all you have on that plate is a kitchen sponge! HA HA! And I thought it was your breakfast."

Him: "..."

Me: "But it so obviously not. HA! 'Cause it's a kitchen sponge."

[Beat.]

Him: "Enjoy your meal."

Yeah. Enjoy my meal. I might as well have said, "The very smell of you makes me giddy!"

But it doesn't! Really! Blame it on the Offnungfreiheit.

3 Comments:

Blogger Recovering Baptist said...

Bless your heart.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

That's good....but probably if you were cruising him you would have been better at it....right?

2:50 PM  
Blogger frostine99 said...

The sad thing is, if I *had* been cruising him, the episode would probably have gone about the same.

The funny thing is, I passed by him today and he stumbled sideways into a magazine rack.

Maybe we were Meant To Be Together.

4:59 PM  

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