Tuesday, October 02, 2007

crazy cathy: when mothers attack





i absolutely commiserate with women who are eager for the opportunity to make friends as adults. from almighty oprah to the lowly chain email, girlfriendships are rhapsodized every where you turn. not having female friends? why, that's just unamerican!

i myself recently fell into a friendless stupor. fed up with feeling bled dry by some of my more parasitic pals, i declared myself a friend-free zone. the song 'circle of friends' by edie brickell & the new bohemians became the new national anthem for the nation of perdedora, population 1. as i luxuriated in shivasana at the end of my weekly yoga class, a tear of self-compassion rolled down my face and on to my very un-sticky stickymat.

unbeknownst to me, some small message was cast out into the galaxy that i need alliances. old buddies of every stripe were emailing, calling, and inviting me to lunch. i got a call from my best friend from junior high who now lives nearby with her toddler. a very close friend of mine may be moving back here pending the precarious state of her marriage. another former co-worker moved back here from new york.

i think the heavens may have been a mite bit too fruitful, however. on friday, our little family unit set out for sushi. we like a little place in lincoln square that has good parking and is pretty kid-friendly; usually, all the high chairs are occupied by toddlers brandishing chopsticks while parents gleefully swill their sapporos with little concern. our food had just arrived and we were about to dig in when in comes a woman and her toddler, about the same height but a good ten pounds heftier than otto. his name is willy. she chose a table next to us and plopped her progeny into a high chair facing ours. at first, the interaction was standard and benign: how old's your baby? what's his name? isn't his hair cute? say hi to your new buddy! she introduced herself: cathy.

just as i would begin digging into my rolls, cathy would sip her cocktail, then wheel around and ask me question after question:

where did i live?
what did we order for otto tonight?
what size clothes is otto?
do we need any hand-me-downs?

she insisted repeatedly that she got my number because she just has loads of clothes and they're barely worn. casey and i admitted that, though we have been fortunate enough not to have had to buy any clothes for otto thanks to gifts and loads of clothes from his four cousins, we were experiencing a gap in cool weather items aged 12-18 mo. this was met by another insistance to get my number, so, when she turned to order her big willy some of what otto was chowing down on, i asked casey for a pen and paper. i figured why not give her my number? maybe she's really nice? if anything, we can score some free clothes. casey's eyes darted to the table and back to me. he hissed, "get her number. get her number."

i scrawled my cell on a tattered ATM receipt and passed it over. her eyes lit up and she slowly crumpled the receipt into her pocket. that was it. in retrospect, i now know that was like feeding a wild bear some succulent delights you have hidden right here in this flimsy old tent.

her husband arrived, but you'd barely know they were dining together. after a few more sakes, the questions to me were coming fast and furious. this time, each answer to her question was nonsensically trumped. for instance:

"isn't it frustrating to figure out what they want to eat?"

"oh, my gosh, yeah. so much of what he loved he will no longer eat. i have a whole freezer full of pureed broccoli and sweet potato ice cubes that i have to bury in pasta sauce to get him to..."

"oh, yeah. i did the whole organic make-your-own baby food thing. i did that for a while and then... [rolls eyes and turns to sip sake, then turns back]. i'm gonna call you."

or there's:

"who's you pediatrician?"
"town and country."
"so's mine."
"oh, okay... which office: lincoln or clybourn?"
"clybourn! we see pappas. who's your doctor?"
"i hear great things about pappas! we were seeing lundquist, but we switched to jameston. lunquist wasn't very supportive of our vegetarianism."
"oh, i did the whole vegetarian, vegan, raw-foodist thing for a while, too, yeah. and then i... oh, waiter! can i have another sake? i'm totally calling you, just so you know."

at this point, our friend cathy must have been buzzing to beat the band. she was practically screaming as i hurriedly woofed down my food and casey paid the check. this is when the showstopper, the pi├Ęce de resistance finally occurred, thus culminating any further bizarre fumblings for common ground:

"where'd you give birth?"
"northwestern prentice."
"so did i. didn't you just love the birth?"

at this point, casey lobbed one in to the rally.

"she gave birth in the tub."

"[pause] you did? wha-it? they didn't have that when i was there, or i totally woulda done it. when did you do that?"

"um, thirteen months ago.

"they totally didn't have that when i was there and i was there... um... when was i there?"

"uh, isn't willy fifteen months old?"

"uh, yeah. uhhh... nice meeting you."

i'm learning to be receptive. we spent all yoga today opening our heart chakras and concentrating on receiving goodness, breathing it in and out with each loving breath... but i will totally fucking cringe if i get a call from crazy cathy.

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