taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Today was Spring Fair at the Panda's shool and all I can say is..... oh the other mothers.

The other mothers have been a problem for me since Amanda was born. Back then I was too young and poor to participate in any of their discussions about clothing and activities. The baby and I pretty much entertained ourselves by going on long walks to the grocery store with carefully clipped coupons. Nowadays I'm a more appropriate age for motherhood so I do try and join their seemingly effortless little cliques. But clearly there's something wrong with me because they aren't very nice to me.

Now I happen to know that other people like me. Non-mother types. And even some other mothers invite me out on occasion. Maybe it's just the mother's at the Panda's school.

You see today was Spring Fair and I--as class mom (ha!)--was in charge of the snowball booth. My other class mom couldn't be there so I had to do everything by myself. Which was fine. But almost immediately I ran into trouble with the Other Mothers.

First it was the Parent Association Bitch. We'll call her "Supermom." Supermom has three children and no job and a fabulous totally renovated house in one of the city's swankier and hipper urban neighborhoods. She seems to spend all her time pretending she's nice in order to rope suckers like me into volunteering to be class moms. But then once you're in? Oh her tune changes pretty fast. She seems to have a conversational tone that ranges from schoolmarmish to satanic. She says things like "Claire. Why on earth did you put the napkins THERE? They clearly belong over here." Or "Hmmm. Didn't see you at the last Spring Fair meeting. I suppose you're too BUSY? We're all BUSY."

Anyway. There I am--on time and all and lugging all the stuff I bought for the snowball stand--which I might add I donated to the school--and she sees me and is on me right away. Helpful-like. "Your booth is over there next to this one."

"This booth?" I ask in confusion.

"The ONE over THERE!" she repeats in a very nasty tone but does not point.

"This one?" I ask to confirm.

"Claire. That one. OKAY?"

I give up and decide to just pick a booth and luckily it was the right one. Proceed to get myself all set up and work the snowball stand for two hours because one of my volunteers didn't show. Hauling ice and scooping it into little cups til my fingers are numb. Covered in syrup but still cheerful. I realize I hadn't eaten breakfast and the hotdogs next door are spinning on that weird silver thing. (The sign orginially read "Hot Dogs $1." But they quickly changed it to "PORK hot dogs $1" out of cultural senitivity. Which of course made me want one even more.)

I'd given all my money to the Panda so that she coud suck on lemon sticks and drink sodas. The husband was supposed to be there at 10 and it was 10:45. Finally I got a break and got some food. I saw a woman who used to be very friendly to me but she breezed by me without a word. Every time I saw her I tryied to say "Hi M..." but she acted as if I didn't exist. It was like when you offend some girl in high school but you're not sure what you did and up til graduation she won't speak to you? And then at the drunken party after graduation she tells you "Oh in 10th grade you pissed me off by borrowing my pencil without asking me" or something. (Not that that ever happened to me. Really. But it could have.)

Anyway I go back to check on the booth and two strangers are in it. "Hi I'm Claire." I say. "I'm nominally in charge of the booth. Can I help you out?"

Well. Icy stare. I mean just withering. What had I done this time?

"There's styrofoam bits in the ice" this bitch tells me. Suddenly I realize who it is. She is a Very Important Person In Baltimore Whom One Must Never Offend Because She Is Bigger And Better Than This Stinkin' Burg. I will say no more but I had been warned.

I think all this through and then think: fuck her.

"Is it from the foam coolers?" I ask sweetly.

"Yes. These cheap foam coolers are totally inadequate." These are the foam coolers I had to go to three stores on a aturday to find and buy with my own money.

By this time my husband is there and to his credit he jumps right in to stick up for me. "No one else volunteered to bring any." He can see I'm starting to poof out like an angry cat.

"Well." she huffs. "No one asked me. I'm a parent and no one called me."

"We were trying to work it out among the class parents" I say. "And you know what? There's a giant plastic bucket that I also bought. Right there." Pointing. "So why don't we use that."

Please keep in mind that I was using my most imperious and bitchy tone at this point. Which is--I say with some pride--very imperious and bitchy.

She looks at the bucket and deflates slightly. "Oh. Okay." I'm thinking: maybe if your nose wasn't stuck so far in the air you'd have seen the fucking bucket on the ground.

I get the ice in the bucket and run off to find quarters for them. I even had to beg some off this very-ex-boyfriend who was (fittingly somehow) working the hot dog booth next door. I gave him a two dollar bill. He just looked at me and shook his head at me--the exact way he used to in 1990--and gave me the quarters.

At this point I guess I'd proved my utility to The Very Important Person One Must Not Offend because she softened slightly. Instead of treating me like a criminally insane retard she shifted in tone so that I felt more like a barely-tolerated incompetent lackey. An improvement of sorts.

By noon the baby was fussing and I'd had enough. I asked the husband to share the noon shift with Mr. Supermom (who is inexplicably cheerful in a way that makes me suspicious). My husband looked completely taken aback by everyone's tone. Especially in the midst of this very sweet little fair. I mean the fair itself was delightful and adorable. But the women! My god! Who are these people? The husband is still there and I pray for his sanity and his soul. God only knows what he will encounter during cleanup.

Luckily tonight I am going to have drinks with a mom who actually likes me. She subs at the Panda's school and I intend to ask her: is it me? or is it them? Do I have some vibe that makes other mothers just despise me? Was it the tight shirt that led them to believe I am incompetent and worthy of scorn? Is it my stupid jokes? I really don't get it.


At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not you, it's them. Good christ almighty, it's them.

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I double-infinity second that. You are wonderful, Boom!

At 7:14 PM, Blogger sweetney said...


but i still like you! heh.


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