Friday, March 15, 2013

Blissfully unaware

The long-winded talker

She dominates the conversation for close to two hours at a party.  Asked to give a d'var Torah (roughly, Bible discussion) no more than 5-10 minutes long, she talks for 15-20.  When saluting a long-married couple, she assures the poor fellows holding a tallit as a chuppah over the couples' heads that she realizes their arms hurt and will wrap up soon, then continues to talk for another 3-4 minutes.  Call her just to confirm some plans, and you may be held hostage for a 45-minute conversation.

I think she's probably one of the few people I know who talks at least as much as I do.  I prefer to think that I'm at least more conscious of how much I'm talking, but that may be just a delusion.  You'd have to ask my long-suffering husband, whose ear I've been bending for so many years that it'll probably never straighten out.  :)

The nibbler

She's been disabled and unable to work for over a decade, so both her health and her bank account are in poor condition.  Consequently, it wasn't much of a surprise when we noticed that she never ordered anything when we went out to eat together, insisting that she wasn't hungry and that she'd just take a taste to keep us company.  But in recent years, it's gotten to the point that my husband has actually complained that he's gone home hungry after sharing a meal with her.  At a recent get-together, we decided to ignore her insistence that we not order anything for her, and ordered two appetizers in addition to our usual one meal that's big enough for two.  'Twas mostly in vain--even with all that, my husband still had to order dessert.  So we've decided that, next time, we'll order two appetizers and two meals, as it's better for our health if we order more "real" food rather than making up for the shortfall with "junk" food.

I'm not sure whether the nibbler is really oblivious to the fact that she's eating as much as half of our dinners, or whether she simply can't bring herself to admit that, when we take her to a restaurant, it's a form of tzedakah/charity, but, either way, I'd rather just discretely order enough food for all three of us than embarrass her by explaining the problem.  I hope we'll still be able to afford to treat her to dinner once we're retired.


Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

I don't understand the nibbler at all. I have one friend who has been poor most of the 35 years I've known here - the next time we eat out together and she pays will be the first in at least 20 years.

I have another who recently became unemployed. The two times we've gone out to dinner since then I've started the meal saying "You don't mind if I treat, do you?". In her case I expect when she gets back to work she'll pay for a couple of meals for me at some point, but if it doesn't work out that way (we sometimes don't see one another for a year at a time) no biggie.

I'd like to wrap this up with some kind of homily about how I am only the steward for the money Hashem sees fit to entrust to me and so forth, but honesty compels me to admit this was my behavior when I was a happy atheist as well.

Fri Mar 15, 03:39:00 PM 2013  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Larry, the problem with the nibbler is not that we don't want to pay for her dinner, knowing how broke she is, but that she won't let us. First, she insists that she's not hungry and that we shouldn't order anything for her, probably because she thinks she's doing us a favor by keeping an eye on our budget. Second, she seems to wish to maintain an image of herself as a well-educated, formerly-solidly-middle-class professional who's simply fallen on hard times because of her health problems and is trying to maintain some semblance of her former lifestyle by living frugally and taking advantage of any legitimate freebie or bargain. She gives the impression that she doesn't see herself as a charity case, and doesn't appear to wish to be treated as one. If she would simply allow us to order a full meal for her and pick up the tab, the whole problem wouldn't exist.

Sun Mar 17, 12:05:00 AM 2013  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

The irony is that the two appetizers that we ordered just to spare her ego by maintaining the pretense that we weren't ordering anything for her cost only 50 cents less than the main dish that we ordered. There's an old saying that "Pride goeth before a fall." Apparently, in the nibbler's case, pride goeth before a full tummy. :(

Sun Mar 17, 09:09:00 PM 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

judgmental much?

Mon Mar 18, 10:34:00 AM 2013  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

In the case of the long-winded talker, I plead guilty as charged, since I fit the same description.

In the case of the nibbler, not so. My point is simply that it would be better for all of us if she would simply admit that she could use a little financial help and let us pay for her dinner, rather than forcing us to resort to a subterfuge in order to ensure that all three of us get enough to eat.

Mon Mar 18, 12:24:00 PM 2013  

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