Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We can learn something from everyone

I knew I was in trouble when the first slurred words out of his mouth were, "Oooo, it's a girl!"

Yes, he was talking about me.

In a post a few days ago, I briefly mentioned the idiocy that I put up with at the wedding party I attended last weekend, and that I had promised not to write about it in my blog. Actually, I'm pretty sure my words to him were, "I won't blog about it tonight..... how's that?" (That was in answer to his whining about not wanting anyone to know what an idiot he was.) Well, it's not "tonight" anymore, is it?? But to protect the idiot, I mean innocent, "he" shall remain nameless. There are lessons to be explored in our exchange much as I would like to never think about him again.

I had seen him before I met him -- in the receiving line at the wedding, Tea pointed him out to me. She recognized that he was not Georgian, although he was standing at the toasting table, with a glass of wine raised to the bride and groom. At the very first glance, my instincts yelled, "Run away! Run away!"
Tea said, "He is American. He is already drunk." (She didn't mean those two descriptions to be linked -- just that both were true!)
"Yes, he is -- on both counts," was my reply.
"You do not want to meet him." What would normally be a question for a less-astute Georgian, was a statement of fact as Tea read my expression.
"No, I don't." I shook my head. She smiled and shook her head in agreement. However, not 15 minutes later, some well-meaning Georgians who hadn't heard my screaming instincts nor read my earlier disgusted expression plopped him down across the table from me.

So many reasons to not like him: drunk, doughy, and self-righteous being the three that rise to the top. Any of the three are enough to steer me clear of a person, but combine all three in one individual, and the combination is almost unbearable. (I should probably define "doughy" before moving on. Someone who is doughy is soft in every way possible -- physically, mentally, spiritually. And by "soft," I don't mean "sensitive." I mean soft from not being used -- spoiled -- untested -- flaccid -- pithy -- without real substance. He was all of the above.) I would never approach someone like this on my own, but I had no choice but to engage him in conversation -- what I hoped would be a short conversation.

It wasn't.

When he was first set down across from me, Tea caught my eye with an expression of, "Yikes, I guess you're meeting anyway." My mind was still ready in defense-mode against his initial statement of excitement at my being female. I tried my best not to appear repulsed, but it was really difficult especially when within less than one minute of sitting down, he grabbed a napkin and covered his mouth to stifle a wave of nausea. I was sure he was going to throw up right there, and I was poised to run away -- literally! My face was frozen in a mixture of disgust, surprise, and disbelief, but it didn't seem to faze him. The first 20 minutes of conversation revolved like a broken record around the same questions: Where was I from? How long had I been in Georgia? Where did I live? What school did I teach in? I did my best to be nice as I answered his constant questions over and over. (Repeating myself is one of my two biggest pet peeves.) When he wasn't asking me these same questions he made the same three statements over and over: How he wasn't drunk, he had already had X glasses of wine (the number kept changing, ranging from 6-10), and how all Georgians are crazy. The last statement annoyed me every time he said it. I answered him as briefly as possible, hoping he would just go away, but that was not to be. He was at my table for the night.

At some point I decided that a new line of questions would be more interesting than replaying the same ones over and over, so I threw out a new one and asked where he had gone to school. He told me, and then volleyed the question back to me. I told him I had gone to a small college in Florida for my undergrad.....and was just about to talk about my grad school, but he interrupted me wanting to know where in Florida I'd gone.... I told him Pensacola. That didn't satisfy him -- he needed to know the name of the school. Finally I told him that I had graduated from Pensacola Christian College (something I don't tell many people for a variety of reasons, one of them being exactly what was to happen next). I could practically hear the glory-bells ringing in his doughy brain -- a kindred spirit! Oh, joy! And suddenly everything became about being a Christian. It was all "us against them." He kept saying over and over that I was the only person in the entire country who understood him. Ugh. Hardly!

Over the course of the next few hours, between my leaving the table to dance with various Georgians and his leaving the table to find the restroom, the conversation quickly deteriorated. I grew annoyed at his insistence that he was not drunk, "As a Christian, it isn't right to be drunk, so I'm not drunk. I'm a Christian." Not exactly logical reasoning, but it must have made sense to him; he kept saying it over and over. I also grew annoyed at his cultural insensitivity -- his "us against them" mentality. I tried to tell him that cultural differences are just that: different. There is nothing wrong with the way Georgians do things -- it's Georgia, not the U.S. He was really stuck on the way the men drink "all the time." He didn't think it was right, but there he was, drunk. I told him that while he needs to adapt to his new culture, he shouldn't compromise his own convictions and beliefs. He didn't understand what I was talking about. Doughy. Then he started hitting on me. He put his arm around me which I shrugged off, then he put his pudgy hand on my knee. When I perfunctorily threw it off, he apologized profusely, but then proceeded to tell me that he wanted to sleep with me -- in less savory words, I might add. I told him that he should probably find somewhere else to sit when what I really wanted to do was smash his doughy face down onto the table. But what really pissed me off was a statement he made -- or rather, whined to the effect of, "what are we even doing here anyway" -- WE???? I let him have it on that one, "Don't project your own insecurities onto ME -- I know what I'M doing here." That finally shut him up.

I know that it was futile to try to have any kind of intelligent conversation with someone who was drunk. But I didn't have much of a choice. I could have completely ignored him from the start, but that would have been mean, and I'm just not a mean person. I didn't overreact because I knew that much of the idiocy that came out of his mouth was due to too much wine. In giving him a ridiculous amount of latitude, I could tolerate an awful lot of his inane babbling. But the cultural insensitivity, insecurity, and completely UN-Christian behavior was just too much.

I do consider myself to be a Christian -- or should I say, I try each day to be as Christian as I can -- in the true sense of the word, actually acting like Christ did. That's the only reason I didn't smash this guy's face into the table .....well, that and I'm not a violent person. I keep wondering how someone so hung up on "Christian" could be so far off the mark? Does he have any idea how negative his actions are? How far from Christ-like he is in thought, action, word, everything? Sad. If he is really a Christian, why was my first instinct at the first sight of him to turn and run away? That doesn't sound like the kind of influence a Christian should have on others. On the contrary -- I want people to be drawn to me because of what they see in me. I want them to see love, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, peace -- the kind of attributes that a Christian should exemplify -- with actions more than words. I know that if my actions are not loving and tolerant, it doesn't matter what I say, no one will hear it. Only through right actions will any words be heard. Someone can talk all they want to (like this guy did, all night long), but it will only be a lot of empty words if there are no actions to back them up. There was no message of hope or love or tolerance in anything this guy said -- only criticism and division and self-righteousness.

I can learn from everyone -- from some I learn what to do, and from others, what not to do.
And what are others learning from me?

1 comment:

  1. I have had men - or a pathetic excuse for them - behave the same disgusting way towards me...the worst thing is...sober they would probably not have the guts to approach a woman for a civilized conversation. An even if they did, they would bore the hell out of any female quicker than she could say "loser"

    What a waste of skin!

    Hang in there though, even in your most desperate moments, you manage to see the humor in it all, and that's what keeps a person sane!
    best of luck.