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February 21, 2006   

My beloved friend from Boston came in town for a visit this weekend, as she was attending a wedding on Saturday. On Sunday, we got to spend a lovely day reminiscing and speaking lightly and deeply about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. It was great! 🙂

The thing I want to write about is tangentially related to her visit. On Sunday night, we went to dinner at Palomino with a bunch of her other Bay Area friends. Reservations and seating were a fiasco not of our making, but that’s not really the thing I’m trying to get at. At some point in the evening, while we were all sitting around the table, eating and conversing, I realized that I was unpurposely and unconsciously acting like a person who had had a few drinks. My face was flushed, I was speaking a little more loudly than usual, I was giggling and giggly at the smallest things, and in general, I was just amped up. It really weirded me out, not because this behavior was unusual, but because I had finally made a conscious connection between my disconnected symptoms and those of a slightly buzzed person. Hmm.

The other thing that happened is that since a bunch of us who had known each other since freshman year of college were there, as well as a bunch of transplants to the East Coast, we naturally got to talking about the differences in our behavior and attitudes as a result of our living environment. In particular, one of the people there had lived in Philly for a year, so she was speaking about how rough things felt there. And so my friend launched into a story about how I accidentally cussed out a British tourist when I was in college because I accidentally thought he was accosting us, not asking us for directions.

The thing I hate about that story is that it makes me sound 1) violent, 2) out of control, 3) hostile, 4) paranoid, or 5) all of the above. The problem is that given the context of living in Philly, behaving the way I had would have been accepted as perfectly normal by most Philadelphians I know. I learned to adjust when I moved to Boston, but it took time. And I learned to adjust when I moved out here, and it’s still taking time. But again, the thing I hate is that people listen to that story without having context of what a day-to-day environment in Philly was like growing up. It’s not that I had a chip on my shoulder; it’s that that’s the normal way to behave where I was. And since I moved, I have been adapting to the new waters. That’s what normal human beings do. To act as a Californian (very friendly and open) in Philly would piss off all the people I met and make them feel threatened because they won’t understand what is going on. You do as the Romans do.

Anyway, after we finished eating dinner, we had decided that my out-of-town friend and another friend (whom she was staking with overnight) would get dropped off by me, so we all walked over to our car. Given the stories that had been told, and given that we were all in a great mood from a fun evening of hanging out, when we encountered three people taking up the entire pavement, we were all smiles and soft voices and rueful apology and “Excuse me”s as we tried to pass them. Only they didn’t move at all, even with repeated excuse mes. So as we passed, I think I gave a very quite disgruntled “hmmph” but given the good mood I was in, I don’t even really think I did (but I have reflected on the incident a few times now, and really think there is a possibility that I might have), especially because I was trying to show my friends that I wasn’t like that story that was told about me. Then one of the guys turned around after we passed and loudly and rudely said, “You could have at least said excuse me!” I turned around, shocked and annoyed, and said, “We f*#$ing said excuse me like ten times!” and walked away. I was so annoyed. And my friend joked to me, “So is this what you meant by becoming soft in CA?” I know she was totally joking, and I saw the irony of the situation, but those people really pissed me off, that we were so nice, so polite, so sheepish about passing them, after having had a great time, and they’d be so rude. I don’t know. Was my behavior out of line? :-/

February 21, 2006 at 1:07 pm

You weren’t out of line at all. As the person who made the (completely joking) ‘”So is this what you meant by becoming soft in CA?”‘ comment, I have the authority to state such. 🙂

I think your reaction was perfect. They were being totally rude and should have moved for us even IF you hadn’t said ‘excuse me’ over and over.

On another note, I notice myself getting really amped up and giggly in those sorts of social situations, especially with folks who you and R and L who are happy and joyful individuals. I honestly didn’t notice anything unusual about your behavior. You don’t have to trust me, though; I did have two drinks. 😉

On a third note, I also have stories that I don’t like to have told about me, even if they are mostly harmless and aren’t meant to portray bad things about me. I have, in two instances, just asked the friend to not tell it anymore. It worked. *shrug*

February 21, 2006 at 2:03 pm

Oh! I didn’t mean to say you weren’t joking. It just made me pause to think, that is all.

And I don’t really mean I don’t want the story told period, but that I feel like strangers (not friends) who hear it get a really wrong impression of me. I spoke to R (at lunch before dropping her off) in case she would read this and think I meant it as a criticism of her telling the story. 🙂 Because I don’t mind! It was just my perception of how it was perceived by people I’m less familiar with that made me feel a bit weird. We spoke about it and it’s all cool.

I think that the reason I keep thinking about it is that there have definitely been instances when I’ve been very rude to strangers, sometimes when they deserved it and sometimes without any merit. I always feel extremely contrite when it was done without merit, but I still need to check myself to make sure I’m not having “road” rage at random people.

February 21, 2006 at 2:06 pm

I find that when I’m out and about in the Bay Area, I tend to be really polite and try not to rock the boat. It’s sometimes hard b/c I just want to tell people to get the eff out of my way. When in NYC this weekend, no one responded at all to the niceties and by day 2 I was scowling with the best of ’em. I like it better that way.

February 21, 2006 at 2:42 pm

Wasn’t there, but I gotta say, I see that you have a hard streak under your quiet girl surface. You get quite passionate about people being mistreated or misrepresented, and it sounds like you were in this case. That being said, it is still shocking to hear you tell stories of “taking peoples heads off”. Only my mother hides it better.

Andre Alforque
February 23, 2006 at 5:33 pm

I woulda flipped them the bird.

I hate driving in the bay area because everyone… drives… so… damn… slow! And in every lane. So, I have to wait for an “exit only” lane to pass someone on the right. Or, try to nudge someone out of the fast lane with the high beams and laying on the horn.

So yeah, I would have turned around and yelled, “fuck you! stop hogging the goddamn sidewalk,” and flipped them the bird.

Damn straight I’m from Los Angeles!!

February 23, 2006 at 11:44 pm

Even if you forgot, you can go back to the original comment and highlight the entirety of the comment then click on the coComment link (or right-click extension) and it’ll fill in the info for you. 🙂 It’s finally actually working!

February 24, 2006 at 9:50 am

Dre, you should try living in Boston for a while. LA seemed calm and sedate to me after living there. Now SF seems like it’s commatose.

February 25, 2006 at 7:13 pm

As a lifelong New Yorker who hates the “grouchy” or “rude” stereotype, I have given people the finger for far less.

One time a guy cut in front of me on the hot dog cart line and I threw the middle finger at the back of his head. If he had turned around I probably would’ve cursed him out inside my mind as well.

We’re a brave lot!

P.S. You seem like you’re in the running for “sweetest person alive” so I wouldn’t worry about a little episode.

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