Saturday, June 25, 2011

From the Living Room to the Schoolyard

So, late in the evening on the day after our book club met, an e-mail appeared in my in-box. It was from someone in the book club group, somebody I really do not know well--she came into the group via someone else, and is not a "neighborhood" resident although her home is pretty close to the 'hood--but is a pretty easy character to read, at least in my opinion. I'll call her "Leona" for ease of reference.

Don't get me wrong: Leona is smart, she loves her kids and provides well for them. She must be likeable in some way, because she's friends with someone else in the group.

But OH MY GOSH the attitude.

The "I'm in two other book groups" attitude. The "I work in medicine so I know a lot" attitude. The "I know a lot so no one should debate me" attitude. The "I don't want to hear from you if you don't agree with me" attitude.

The one that made her eyes shoot daggers at my mom when Mom got a little caught up in what Leona was saying and wanted to dialogue but accidentally interrupted her (because she was not done what she was going on about).

Yeah, that one.

Therefore, I knew that the real subject line should have read "Warning! Drama Enclosed" but I read it anyway.

It was too good not to share. My comments in bold.

[...G]ood seeing you last night. Thx for bringing your book ideas [that really don't coincide with anything anybody else wants to read].

I am reaching out to you in confidence
[yeah, right--the first rule of book club is that there are no secrets in book club] because we [I'm sorry--where did "we" come from all of a suddent? I saw no cc's on this e-mail, and BTW who died and made you club president?] wanted to ask your help in guiding your mom a bit during the book club. [Say what?] Your mom is so smart [yeah, shockingly so for a homemaker, huh?] and we all love her [again, who is this "we" and why do I sense a "BUT" coming on?] and she has a lot to say, which is important.

But [Aha!] it is hard for all of us to have a discussion because she ends up dominating most conversations
[Excuse me--"most"? You weren't even here last time!] and continues to have more [have more what? crackers?] when others are sharing. Last night it became uncomfortable for most. [Again, who? Was there a secret follow-up meeting?] That's why I called on people later. [Yeah, being put on the spot is SO not uncomfortable at all!]

Is there any way that you
[ME!?] could advise her to be mindful of this. Usually the first 4-5 sentences are perfect, meaningful, insightful-but she goes on and on after that. [Wait, wait, wait--you are counting her SENTENCES? Is there a limit I don't know about?] Should we give her a 1 minute hour glass [!!! (I have no words)] or can you nudge her [WTF? You mean I have to sit next to her and assault her at every freaking meeting from now on?] after a few sentences?

Please let me know your thoughts and if I am off base.
[Oh, absolutely, because you'd take that so well.]

My blood was boiling a bit after I read that. Fortunately, my first reaction was a good one: I closed it and walked away.

I still have not answered it, as I have been mulling over my options.

Option 1: Say nothing. I do not want to dignify this whacko e-mail with a response.

Option 2: Tell her that she's putting me in an awkward position and to leave me out of it.
I mean, how would she like it if I walked up to her daughter and said, "Kid, I don't like the way your mom talks to people; would you tell her to back off? Oh, but that didn't come from me"?

Option 3: Play completely dumb.
"Gee, Leona, if there's a problem with people talking too long, maybe you could talk to [the club coordinator who I think is the friend who brought her in] about establishing a moderator for each meeting, and maybe the group should propose and agree on some rules."

Option 4: Tell her she is "off base" and immature for singling out one person and then not having the huevos to tell that person directly that she has a problem with that person.
After which I would declare, "I quit!" because I don't have time for passing notes in the schoolyard.



Our next meeting is not until the end of August, but here's the most fabulous twist ever:



My mom volunteered to host it.




I guess Leona would just want her to stay in the kitchen where she belongs, then.


10 comments:

ccr in MA said...

Oh holy cow. Wow. Um.

In my dreams, I would do number 4, but I could never do it in real life. I'm not even sure I could do option 3, which I think might be the best response, as in more likely to either bring in some much-needed guidelines or at least get her off YOUR back.

So yeah. I would say #3 if you feel up to it, or number 2 if not. It doesn't sound like she'd let it go, so #1, though tempting, probably wouldn't be the end of it.

Wow. I suppose a simple reply of "Pot, meet kettle" would go right over her head.

Kate P said...

Two "wow"s is really saying something. :)
Yeah, it's bugging me that she decided to get on MY back about the whole thing. The question is which option will take care of it, and I appreciate the feedback. You pretty much confirmed that #4 is fantasy, unless I really was prepared to leave the group.
We'll see if I get contacted again.

Sara said...

Holy moly...

#3 is probably the diplomatic way to do things. I have to do it all the time at work to keep from trodding on delicate egos and keep the workplace all professional-like. Doesn't mean I like it.

Of course, while playing dumb and since she had the nerve to act like she was speaking for the whole group, it would be a nice opportunity, at your next meeting - especially since your mom is hositng it - to say that you have been contacted outside the group by someone who indicated that they were speaking for everyone else, and you had a thought about moderators, etc, and since everyone had seemed to discuss it before the email was sent to you, it would be good to discuss it as a group.

And watch her squirm. Delight in the squirming. If she squirms enough, even call on her for her opinion while stating that you are doing so because she was obviously elected by everyone to get in touch with you outside the meeting.

But, I am mean and I am grumpy.

Personally, I would probably reply with "I apologize that the world stopped revolving around you for a few minutes, and that your threshhold for the loss of the spotlight is only 4-5 sentences," and then find a bookclub more along my tastes as far as selections go.

But, I am mean and I am grumpy.

Kate P said...

Hahaha this whole THING is MAKING me mean and grumpy. I would looove to use both CCR's "pot, meet kettle," AND your "I apologize that the world stopped revolving around you for a few minutes. . ." I am fighting the urge to stoop to her level in the schoolyard. So. Hard.

I really do like the idea of introducing something about deciding rules/protocol at the top of the next meeting; however, I know already that not every member can make it on that date. So maybe that's not fair? Hmmmmmm.

My mom told me (and yes I told her what was up) that I really should respond, so I guess I will have to figure out what I'm doing sometime tomorrow. A week is long enough to leave her hanging. She sent it from her work e-mail after 5, so that probably means something, too.

Sara said...

Well, if you want to take the high road....

As for everyone not being there, it may teach Ms. Center of the Universe that her little snide actions will not go unacknowledged, and everyone else can be brought up to speed through emails relating the discussion and asking if they have any additional input. Perhaps?

"My mom would like to know if I can nudge everyone who begins to dominate conversations, but that would involve a lot of moving around the room. Do keep a seat open for me next to you anyway, ok?"

Ok, that's mean and grumpy.

You can do a quick response of something like: "this will be addressed at our next meeting so that we all can decide how to best handle it. I know that my mother is not the only one perceived to be dominating conversations at times, so I think that it would be good to bring it to the table. Getting caught up in the moment happens to us all, right? Sometimes we may not even be aware that it is happening."

That's slightly less mean and grumpy. :)

Kate P said...

"Do keep a seat open for me next to you anyway, ok?"--HAHAHAHA!!!! Stop it--you are tempting me to be mean and grumpy! ;)

I already told my mom I didn't want to sit next to her next time (and she has to stay in the kitchen anyway, right?), so YEAH, maybe the best place for me to sit IS next to Leona!

I have been trying to figure out how to appeal to her egalitarian touchy-feely-ness, so maybe it would work to suggest that a general "concern" be brought up before the entire group.

Ooh, maybe I can give her a choice: address it directly with my mom or bring the general concern up at the next meeting. Put the lousy friggin' ball back in her court where it belongs (and never should have left).

lettersfromchristine said...

Sara's suggestion below, combined with no. 2, sounds enticing:

"Of course, while playing dumb and since she had the nerve to act like she was speaking for the whole group, it would be a nice opportunity, at your next meeting - especially since your mom is hositng it - to say that you have been contacted outside the group by someone who indicated that they were speaking for everyone else, and you had a thought about moderators, etc, and since everyone had seemed to discuss it before the email was sent to you, it would be good to discuss it as a group.

And watch her squirm. Delight in the squirming. If she squirms enough, even call on her for her opinion while stating that you are doing so because she was obviously elected by everyone to get in touch with you outside the meeting."

Kate P said...

Christine--ah, it's a delicious thought but a tiny bit passive-aggressive for me. I'm a little sensitive to that.

That said, if push came to shove that's an ace I'm not afraid to whip out from my sleeve.

lettersfromchristine said...

hehehe

Hopefully your primary plan of action will work well (and gently put this girl in her place), so you won't need to resort to baser tendencies (unfortunately I probably would be my usual-passive aggressive-ness, as you correctly guessed)

Good luck and God bless!

Kate P said...

I'm hoping my mom will just put her in her place if need be, actually, And I can just sit back and enjoy it. Thanks, Christine!