After we claimed our table and ordered drinks, our friend R introduced us to a British man she fancied, who apparently frequented this pub. Introductions were made, and I have no idea how the subject came up, but we arrived at a place where he asked how old we all were, and I stupidly (and arrogantly) said, “Guess!”
(Look at how cocky she is, still high from weeks of people saying she looks too young to be an author!)
The look in his eyes was not encouraging, so I quickly changed my mind. “No, don’t guess. Don’t answer that!”
Too late. “Um, you’re thirty-eight?”
Perhaps it was because I was wearing my chunky new Mrs. Roper necklace—no doubt adding years to my ensemble. Perhaps it was the fact that I had just regaled him with the scintillating history of my family (which is what comes out of my mouth when you ask about the origins of my last name, it appears. “Riley—are you Irish?” “Yes, but my husband’s last name is actually an abbreviated version of a Norwegian family name, and let me tell you about my family genealogy because you don't look like you've had your weekly Bored in a Bar yet.”).
Taking the Mrs. Roper necklace for a test-drive.
You know, this is probably what did it, because after I wrapped up my little speech, he said, “Wow, you have a lot of time on your hands, don’t you?”
I bristled. “No, but I have smart and thoughtful relatives.”
So yes. Thirty-eight. Later, he defended his guess with, “I only thought you were older because of the maturity level you displayed in mixed company.” (I was one of the few at the table not making fun of his accent, smoking cigarettes through my nostrils, or rapping.) Or something like that. And hey, I got a free drink out of it, delivered with an encouraging, “This is guaranteed to take YEARS off you!”
But 38?? I know and love many thirty-eight year-olds, my husband included. But I have many, many, MANY years to get there! Let’s not rush things, ‘k? (And stop laughing, J. I can define "many" however I want to!)
So this, plus the creepy old guy who kept demanding we play Molly Hatchet on the jukebox, put me in a mildly foul mood when one of my British friend’s ‘mates’ sidled up to me and slurred, “I consider myself something of a writer, too.”
Here we go.
“I write poetry. Here’s one I’ve been working on.”
He launched right into your classic rhyming ode to love, including stars and moonlight and a babbling brook and what have you, forgetting his lines and interrupting himself twice with, “No wait. Hold on. Just a minute. That’s not how it goes.”
He wrapped up his rather lengthy performance with, “I wrote it for my mother. So what do you think?”
He was expecting a little melting, a little swooning, someone a bit less ornery (due to the whole "Would you like a can of Ensure to go with those age spots?" bit and all).
Poor guy didn’t have a chance. I took a deep breath. “First of all,” I said, “I hate poetry that rhymes.”
“Well, it’s really not a poem, but more of a lyric. A song poem—”
“Dude? Listen. I’ve heard better poems written by third graders. I know you meant well, but this poem is really generic and tells me nothing about your mother. I totally think some boy already wrote it for me when I was eight.”
It was pretty brutal. But I would have been nicer had I not been feeling all crotchety and covered in liver spots. I'll write later in the week on my game plan for addressing this issue, plus my review of every wrinkle cream I've ever used. (Space permitting.)
For now, I will leave you with this photo of a broken coffee carafe that greeted us at the dive diner we stuffed our faces at the following morning. (Yes, it came with the plastic 'heat-saving' cup insert. Ingenious!)
(Off-camera, to the left: a father and husband wearing South Park pajama bottoms. I would have taken a picture of that too, if I felt I could have gotten away with it.)