There is a drinking fountain mere paces away from my desk at work. I have a large cup I fill with water from it once a day, twice if I’m being mindful about staying hydrated. I just refilled my cup and as I walked from the fountain back to my desk, my coworker incredulously asked “Did you just get water from the bubbler?” I said yes and she replied “That’s interesting!” with a half-amused, half-perplexed smirk on her face. Now I was puzzled. “Interesting?” I asked. “Yeah, it’s just….. Interesting!” and I asked why and she said “It’s interesting, that’s all I’m going to say about it” as she started to walk away. Then she quickly turned, looked at me and asked “You know, there’s filtered water over there” as she motions to the break room which is halfway across the building. Sure, I’m lazy, but more than that I’m practical. Why am I going to walk an additional 100 yards for filtered water when there’s a perfectly good drinking fountain right by my desk? I was confused (and admittedly, slightly annoyed by her I can’t believe what a moron I am dealing with look on her face) as I responded “Yeah, but I don’t want to walk over there when there’s a drinking fountain right here.” She made a face like I just told her I dine on dog shit because there’s more of it in my backyard than there are Hershey bars. I pressed on (why am I explaining myself to her?) “That’s why drinking fountains exist, for drinking water out of.” At this point another coworker had strolled up and started harassing me about how the filtered water was “20 feet away” (20 feet?! please). The first gal inexplicably laughed out a “And for licking!” “Licking?!” I asked. “Yeah, people lick them.” Pardon my French but who the fuck in a corporate office full of grown ups (perhaps an error in my assumption) is licking water fountains? The best reply I could muster was “I think we should take a poll. I think you two are weirdos.” as they laughed and I walked back to my desk, with my cup of nice, cold drinking fountain water. We don’t live in some third world village where filtering water would be required for health or taste. What is going on here?
Last winter, my 62 year old father had his knee replaced. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it in the days preceeding the surgery. He was a healthy, moderately fit young(ish) man going for a relatively common, routine surgery. Years of YMCA “Fit for Life” and other activites rendered Dad’s knee worthless and he was ready to upgrade to a new model. Although I was thousands of miles away, I was confident his partner would take good care of him while he healed up from the surgery. For my part, I sent him a fun book to read and words of encouragement to both him and his girlfriend. Then, I received a startling piece of mail. The envelope contained all my father’s important contacts and last wishes, complete with a “do not resuscitate” order. Along with his bank account numbers, name and information of his attorney and his desire to have his remains handled by “The Neptune Society” was a note indicating that he was leaving all the important medical decisions to me and his girlfriend, with explicit direction NOT to involve my tender hearted younger brother. My brother simply wouldn’t be able to bear with the trauma of it all. At this time, I had a brief moment of desperation (as I frantically Googled “The Neptune Society” to ensure my dad did not venture into some weird cult as he contemplated death – no worries, he simply wanted to be creamated, a perfectly reasonable choice as far as I was concerned).
The surgery came and went without incident. He devoured the book I sent, even before the surgery took place. His girlfriend nursed him back to health (although sadly, their relationship came to an end weeks later).
Dad and I carried on with life and although he seemed a bit worse for the wear, we enjoyed a father-daughter birding trip to Florida in April after he had healed up.
Life moves on. We mainly communicate by email as he has a strange affliction of a “numb arm” after conversing on the phone after so long (I get it). This evening, in response to an email I had sent him earlier in the day in regard to my birth control prescription change prompted by the pharmacy (am I going nuts due to new hormones coursing through my veins, why do I want to slit my wrists lately, Dr. Dad please help me?) I received the following in an email from him: (Mind you, this was interspersed between random comments about about the movie “Chef, which was cute, but not a blockbuster” says Dad.) “I also met with a sales guy from the Neptune Society, the creamation company, and paid for my funeral. If I croak, just call them and they’ll take care of everything. They have orders to send the urn to you. I sure as heck wouldn’t want you to have to do all that nasty stuff.” This, immediately followed by “I’m hoping to go fishing tomorrow early. Supposed to be cloudy, but no rain, I hope.”
Ok, ok, I am glad that my father is so responsible regarding these unpleasant end of life type of situations. Truly, I am, as I imagine I will dissolve into a puddle of goo when my sweet hero of a father takes his final breaths. Yet, I can’t help but feel this is all terribly premature. After all, he is only 62. He’s still working, for pete’s sake. He’s still randy (much to my dismay), has hobbies and interests and aside from an unidentified collection of pills in our Florida hotel room’s safe (I couldn’t bring myself to snoop on Dear old Dad), I believe him to be of strong stock and healthy as a horse. Why is he planning for his death? And why is he looping me in when there are no indications it’s anything we even have to worry about for years to come?
It’s all a bit unsettling.
I’d like to think I’m a pretty easygoing person by nature, but I often find myself scratching my head wondering if I’m the only one who grasps rules of etiquette in social situations. Wedding season is upon us. Yesterday I received an invitation to an August wedding, sadly addressed to me and my ex. After I recovered from the pang of sadness and nostalgia, disappointment set in that I would be attending the wedding alone. This morning, I mentioned to a coworker that I received this unfortunately worded invitation and her immediate response was “well, at least this opens you up to bring a guest!” Um, no. That’s not how it works. “and Guest” means bring whomever you’d like. When there are specific names on the invitation, that’s who is invited. You don’t get to sub in someone else. I explained this and quickly felt pedantic. Am I too uptight about this or is it generally understood?
Towards the end of my relationship last summer, in the throes of that awful purgatory of “do I stay or do I go”, my then partner received an invitation to his brother-in-law’s son’s wedding. It was addressed to my partner “& guest”. His mother received an invitation addressed the same way. I asked my partner if we were going to attend the wedding. Was his mother going? This is when he informed me that they decided his mother’s guest would be my partner’s thirteen year old son so that we could “all go together.” Hold up, wait a minute. Children fall into their own category in regard to wedding invitations. They should either be listed by name, or a general “and family” indicates that children are welcome. They are not meant to be an (seventy year old)adult invitee’s plus one. I informed my partner of this and he shrugged it off, stating that they probably just “forgot” about his son because “planning a wedding is stressful and you don’t think of everybody.” Hmm. I’d rather think all invited parties are deliberately chosen. Nevermind the fact that many people wish to have an adult-only wedding. Still, my partner stood firm and thought he would make things better by reaching out to the groom (through the groom’s stepmother, my partner’s sister) and asking if it was ok for the son to attend. Oh dear lord, can we make this situation any worse!? This is a no-win situation: either the groom will acquiesce and say sure it’s fine, or you’re putting him in a position to potentially offend a guest by saying no when the question should never be asked in the first place! My unease mounted when I saw the groom’s own sister make a post on Facebook about how disappointed she was that her brother’s wedding was adult only and therefore she wouldn’t be able to take her son (the groom’s own nephew). The day of the wedding, I made a final attempt to convince my partner we should leave the son at home while we attended the wedding and he told me it was fine for him to attend because he “wasn’t like most kids” (ie he’s much more mature, “adult-like”, etc.) and therefore is an exception to any “rule”. In fact, my partner had the idea somehow that there would be other youngsters in attendence. Furthermore, my partner’s sister stated that if we weren’t going to take him, she would pick him up and bring him herself. I briefly considered skipping the wedding and letting them attend the adult-only wedding with an uninvited teenager, but decided I would suck it up and go. I’m not sure which etiquette breach would have been worse: RSVP’ing “yes” to a wedding and being a no-show, or inviting a kid. So I attended. And felt incredibly awkward and uncouth as the stepmom of the only person under the age of 21 at the entire large wedding, complicit in this madness. For what it’s worth, I learned that evening that metal table stands make excellent cymbals – something an incredibly mature, adult, exception to the rule teenager taught me sometime during the photo slide show.