Last Shabbos, walking home from with a couple of women from the neighbourhood… “we really don’t have much of anything, the house is kind of a mess, the kids are sick and I’m exhausted… hey, do you want to come for lunch??? We’d really love to have you!”
Somehow, I have become the queen of the backhanded invitation. If you can get past the reluctance to invite, and the awful way the invitation is usually worded, what I think people usually end up with is a really nice meal, with plenty of food and happy times all around the table.
And the truth is, I love having guests. That’s why I try to make Ted do all the inviting. I don’t know how he does it: probably just walks up to the person and says, “hey, do you want to come over for lunch?”
Because it always works out; I just shouldn’t think through all the negatives out loud in front of the prospective guest. I should think to MYSELF the parts about not enough food (because there is always enough) or the one dish that didn’t get refrigerated / put on the blech (because who cares what they’re NOT going to be eating?) or the toys all over the floor (because there are always toys everywhere) or the cranky teenagers (because they are actually occasionally charming when we have guests) or up-all-night babies (because that’s what babies do, and they are ALWAYS charming when guests are around).
A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting talking to my kids for half an hour before I realized there was a woman sitting nearby with her children who I could theoretically say hello to or at least smile at. So I did say hi, apologized, and introduced myself as “completely lacking in social skills.” I found it astonishingly liberating, and have since used the line a couple of times in other potentially awkward situations.
I mean, some people have disabilities which are more obvious: they only have one arm, or maybe they are wearing thick glasses or a hearing aid or… I don’t know, a hairpiece. But I have now had exactly forty years to acquire decent social skills – the ability to make friends or at least acquaintances and carry on normal conversations – and if it hasn’t happened by now, maybe it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
I’m not making excuses. I am trying hard. But sometimes I think a name tag would be very helpful. “HELLO MY NAME IS something you will have to ask because it would never occur to me to introduce myself and I will promptly forget your name if you tell me who you are and you show up next time in a different hat.”
See? That’s what I mean. The hat thing really throws me off.
Okay, it seems like I just ranted about this two weeks ago… so I’ll stop so I can go say goodnight to the kiddies now. Bye!!! I must be improving! I remembered to say goodbye!