Thursday, June 14, 2007

When did talking about anal cavities become stranger-worthy?

What makes some people think it's completely acceptable to go into vivid detail about their lives when asked a simple question such as, "How are you?"

Is it a birth defect of sorts? Are they missing a chromosome? Are their brain synapses not communicating between the right and left hemispheres properly, so they feel the need to communicate everything that flits into their conscious?

Or maybe they're just so starved for attention that when a complete stranger acknowledges their existence they latch on verbally and refuse to let go?

Even if that were the case, don't they have any sense of privacy? Or topics that are off limits? Such as talking about a colonoscopy surgery, their pending divorce and their daughter's drug addiction all rolled into one horrifying 10-minute conversation?

If you think that was an example for example's sake, you are mistaken, my friends. That was a conversation I actually endured with a new neighbor a few days ago.

When I went outside to get the paper that morning, I noticed the garbage cans had been emptied by our trash collectors and decided to risk being seen in all my braless, makeupless wonder to drag them a few feet to the side of the house.

Big mistake.

No wait. That needed to be capitalized for even more emphasis.


The couple that recently moved into the upstairs apartment of the house next door was talking at the foot of the staircase that ends right where Jerry and I store our garbage cans. As I dragged them, one by one, into place, I knew it would be rude not so say hello, despite wanting to crawl back into the anonymity of my house undetected.

"Good morning," I said, giving a little wave.

The man walked off in a huff without saying a word and the woman just sort of sat at the bottom of the steps, inexplicably holding four Gatorade bottles of varying primary colors.

As I set down the final can, I made the gargantuan mistake of not leaving it at that. Instead, I added, "How are you?"

In a childlike voice full of self-pity, she let out a huge sigh and said, "Oh, I'm feeling a little better ... I guess."

"Oh? Not feeling well?" I asked, giving the cans one final alignment.

"I had a colonoscopy yesterday," she said.

At that moment, I honestly wanted to scream something like, "Get better soon!" and sprint back into the house as fast as my pregnant ass could carry me. But I didn't think to interject my sentiment fast enough. She continued dispensing personal information in rapid-fire.

"Yeah, it didn't go too good. The doctor said my windpipe cut off and I started to turn purple, so they had to stick a breather tube down my mouth and now my throat is killing me. And I guess they found a few things down there during the surgery, but hopefully nothing real bad because colon cancer runs in my family. All my grandpaps died from it."

"Oh," I said when she let out a momentary pause. I unknowingly had been backing up a few inches at a time to release myself from the conversation, but it was very obvious that she wasn't picking up on any of my not-so-subtle body language hints. I was in it for the long haul.

"And I'm going through a divorce right now. My boyfriend and me just moved here and I don't have either of my girls with me. Not that they'd want to be here. The one has a real bad drug problem. She's gonna get her ass thrown in jail, but her dad doesn't give a shit, so she wants to stay with him. I guess he just lets her shoot up whenever she feels like it."

"Oh," I said again, not knowing what the hell is the appropriate response to THAT sort of disclosure. Part of me felt like calling attention to the absurdity of her involving me in this conversation by reaching out my hand and saying, "By the way, my name is Kelly."

Another part of me wanted to say something equally as uncomfortable like, "Yeah, I know about colon problems these days. I'm pregnant, so the constipation is killing me. Sometimes I can sit on the toilet for up to 30 minutes and only get one little squeeze out. And my pregnancy books warn me that my boobs are going to start leaking soon, so that'll be interesting!"

As I mulled all of these thoughts, I realized this unnamed neighbor I hadn't ever had a conversation with was still rattling off insanely personal anecdotes. In effort to preserve my sanity, I tuned in and out, nodding and interjecting more "Ohs" where necessary.

Thankfully, as if a gift from the bad conversation police, a visitor stopped by to see how my neighbor was feeling after her surgery. As soon as that third party entered verbally, I knew it was now or never. I had to escape. Fast.

"Well, I'll let you two catch up," I said, "besides, I have to go bolt my front door closed so I never accidentally run into you again."

No. I didn't really say that. But that's what I was thinking.

I just wished her well and hauled ass back into the sanctuary of my living room.

I closed the door and leaned back up against it panting as if I was the teenage virgin victim in a horror flick and successfully warded off the guy who was after me with chainsaws for arms.

It felt that intense.

That's the last time I put the garbage cans back in their proper place after trash day. Jerry's on his own.


julie said...

I think the "By the way, my name is Kelly" would've been the best thing you could've said in that circumstance.

I was a bank teller once. You wouldn't believe the kinds of crap people find appropriate to share with their bank teller. Imagine what you just went through, over and over, every day. Yeah. Fun stuff.

Oh, and the places people will pull their money out of, right in front of you? Yeah, gross.

kristin said...

What on Earth?! SHe didn't even know your name and she was talking about her anal problems and drug addict kids? That's crazy.

Marja said...

You should try working in a mental health clinic.

Marina said...

Some people just need to unload I guess. She sounded pretty stressed out and you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. It also sounds like she and her soon-to-be ex just had a fight. When I've just had a fight with my bf, I'll bitch about it to everyone who will listen. Haha. So I can kind of understand both sides of this story.

Also, you share pretty personal details on an online blog that everyone can read. Don't be too quick to judge. ;)

Jenni said...

A blog is a very different thing. No one is forcing anyone to read a blog of someone's personal anecdotes.

Wow, so sorry that you got trapped! People are really and truly crazy.

Suzy said...

I'm SO glad that Bud handles our trash!! :) Sorry you had to endure that!

LisaRN said...

Haha the only thing worse than that is knowing you have to BEGIN a conversation with that person - so you spend the whole day dreading it.

I've read your blog for over a year and LOVE it. I think you should publish it.

Congrats with your pregnancy! I'm excited for you!

Melinda Hale said...

This made my day! I love the story, and I love the way it was written.

Let me know when your first book comes out...

The laughing plainsman said...

Another priceless Kelly classic that had me LMAO, keeping to the subject of the conversation!

(Hope to see this one included in the book, too.)

Chelsea said...

Oh gah, I can't stand people like that. I never ask how my math teacher is becasue she'll be just like that. Hell, her whole class is pure bitching. Neighbors are fun =)

Kristin said...

Lol, I have neighbors like that, too, although, they don't talk about personal stuff like that, but I always get stuck talking to them every time I set foot out my front door. I feel your pain, Kelly :P


Maria said...

Wow, anal and drug talk bright and early- fantastic!

Randall said...

Sounds like the ladies at the church I grew up with... "Oh, I'm fine I suppose..."

I was always taught by my mom that "Hello, I'm great thank you" was always the appropriate response.

Ray said...

Ohmygoodness, what craziness! I guess I could agree with you when you wrote there are just some people like that, who are attention hungry because they have no one else who will listen to them. I sort of feel bad. Then again I understand where you're coming from when you just wanted to run away and bolt your door shut. I've never been in that situation but I know I would have felt as awkward as you were. And from the looks of it the way her boyfriend stormed off he probably doesn't even want to hear a word that she has to say which is sad. She probably also talks his ear off, so I think you got the better end of the bargain seeing that you got to go home, and his home is with HER!

Also, funny that you write about when people ask someone, "How are you doing" because I was going to write a post about that someday or another. Not particularly with the same situation that you just wrote---but something a bit different. I just hate that question when you met someone and they ask you, "So how are you doing?" It's stupid and pointless. I mean what if you're having a shitty day, you're not going to tell the person about it (Well this lady did but that's a different story). You just have to suck it up, put on a fake smile and said, "I'm doing great!" If I was to ever create a show I'd do an episode about that. I'd do a take #1. Where you ask someone how they're doing and they say, "fine." Then a take #2. Where fantasy sort of plays in, and you tell the person like it is. You tell them the truth. I think that would be interesting and fun to watch.

Take #1 would be something like:

Person: "So, how are you doing?"
You: "I'm doing GREAT, my life couldn't get any better!"

Then the fantasy plays in (when in actuality it's truth it's what you really want to say but cant) Take #2:

Person: "So, how are you doing?"
You: "Well my life is going pretty shitty right now. I lost my job. My husband had an affair with my sister. I tried to commit suicide before I met up with you actually. I tried to slit my wrists but I failed at it, that's why I'm wearing this long sleeved shirt on such a hot day. But other than that I'm just DANDY!" (A bit overexaggerated but life sometimes is like that).

Can we say all that----No. But it's just funny with all the politeness around and no one ever wants to get deep and personal. Well granted that you know the person and they're not a stranger. All in all the truth is no one wants to know the truth, they just say it to be polite.

But I'm with you: "Jerry's on HIS OWN, hehe!"

Take care, Kelly.

Teme said...

Since she didn't let you get in words edgewise, there's still time to pretend you don't speak English next time you see her. Of course, if she finds out you write a newspaper column, it could get tricky.

Janice said...

That' That's just uncalled for! At one point one of my neighbors decided it would be appropriate to tell me about how her boyfriend cheated and how she found him in her shower...and what he was doing to the other girl...the first time I met her. Strange.

Anonymous said...

I think you have important details to add to your "about me" section =]

jan said...

I really enjoy your blog. when ever i need a little entertainment i always tune in to see whats happining in kelly's life. cant wait to hear more about this little perfect baby