posted Tue, 15 Aug 2006
This is awkward. I have a friend, Carla, whom I really like and respect. Carla is a lunch twice a year friend. Not an email once every other day, see at least once a week, tell most of my secrets to friend. But still a friend. Someone I like. Someone whose company I enjoy.
We had our bi-annual (or is it semi-annual? I can never keep those two straight) lunch the other day. Carla heard of my unemployed state and half-hearted attempts to change such state. (Such attempts include flipping to monster.com between reading Mamarazzi and other such enlightening and thought-provoking sites and whining, “Why can’t I find a job?” None of my wallowing in self-pity spurs me to anything productive, like cleaning my house or exercising enough to get me into good shape. Once I had visible abs – for about five seconds last year when I first started boot camp and was taking 600 mgs of appetite-killing Topamax a day. Sigh. Oh. I had a job, then, too, so there was 13 miles between me and my refrigerator.)
We had our lunch, which was nice, but then Carla suggested I join her on her new money-making venture: selling high-end makeup and skincare products. I tried to demur when she gave me the brochure, telling her I could just look at the company’s website. Then I told her I really don’t use much makeup (which is true). But she insisted I take the brochure. I told her I would think about it and that even if I didn’t want to do it, I might have some other friends who might be interested.
I thought maybe I had made it Southern clear that I didn’t want to do this. You know, the Memphis Way of saying “no” in a nice, disguised way that doesn’t really sound like “no” but everyone knows that’s what you’ve just said. Sometimes, it takes a form like this – and had I been more alert, I would have employed it, but I just wasn’t on the ball: “Thank you so much for asking me! I wish I could!”
It took me about two years of living here and being in the Junior League to learn that that meant “no.” It’s a code. They don’t give you a dictionary when you move here. What if the Germans invade? We have to have a way to communicate without their knowing what we’re saying.
Then I thought maybe I would just – not call. You know, the passive-aggressive approach. Or the passive-passive approach. After all, I’m not aggressive about this. It’s not like she asked me to sell sex toys or Amway. Nothing wrong with selling nice makeup. It’s just not my thing.
I even tried recruiting someone for her. I asked Leigh, who has been known to spend money on beauty products. Leigh felt no compunction to be nice about her “no.” “No, no, no, no!” she said, as she held her fingers X’d between the two of us. “Uh-uh. No way. I don’t do that sort of thing.”
Still, I did not call Carla. Maybe if I don’t call her, she’ll realize I don’t want to do this, I thought. Me, who with every breakup I have ever initiated, has been straight to the point with the soon-to-be ex. “I want to break up.” I’ve never just stopped calling with a boyfriend because I think that’s one of the cruelest things you can do to a person. You can’t leave someone wondering. You have to tell him. Yet here I don’t have the guts to tell Carla that I don’t want to sell her makeup! What is wrong with me? When did I turn into a sissy?
She called this morning. Busted! I didn’t even have a story ready. I stammered through some small talk, dreading the question that I knew was to come. “Have you thought about the makeup?” she asked.
“You know, I really need to focus on my job search right now,” I told her. (Southern code for “No! I don’t want to sell makeup!”) She graciously withdrew, but I was knackered. And she left me with a standing offer to “bring some samples by.” Oh man.
The end of the line
1 year ago