Brenda is everything I'm not: She's beautiful, successful and outspoken -- totally unafraid of looking like a fool in front of others. (I suppose the first two attributes make it easier to accomplish the third, but I wouldn't know; not having experienced them myself.)
I like Brenda, but I have to admit that I find her very intimidating. And I'm a little jealous. Neither of which helps me be at my best.
This year, Brenda is serving on our PTA board. She is a very good friend of Betty's, and together they are a formidable duo.
Brenda, Ophelia and I had a pre-semester planning session at Opie's office. I think I may have let on to Opie that I'm not all that enthusiastic about Brenda. It's hard when you can't help but compare yourself to her and are forever coming up short.
But for the most part, everything was cordial. Brenda greeted me with a hug and we engaged in some pleasant chitchat. Opie demonstrated some software she thinks we should use this year, to keep us all on track. Then, it was my turn to show them the redesigned PTA website.
As soon as I started talking, Brenda leaned over.
"Excuse me," she said, "but this is driving me crazy." Then she grabbed my eyeglasses off my face and proceeded to clean them on her blouse. "It's a nice soft polyester," she added, probably having noted the look of -- what? Surprise that someone would violate my space? Or the shame that my glasses were so dirty that someone I hardly know felt she had to clean them for me?
I wondered what Opie thought -- whether I'm the butt of some private joke between everyone because I'm walking around town with smudged eyeglasses. I buy these little Lenscrafters towelettes to clean them with, but often forget to put them in my bag -- and right now, I have about three left. Tried not to think about it. Moved on.
I turned on my notebook computer. It, too, was dusty and Brenda proceeded to clean it off, too.
"I'm sorry. I just have this thing about dust," she said.
I laughed and tried not to feel chastised. It's bad enough that I agonize every time someone comes to the house beause I don't want them to see it in its normal state. It's not that I don't like having a clean house -- I just find housework to be the most boring of all tasks and so it usually ends up at the bottom of my to-do list. Then again, it's a good thing we do invite friends over from time to time or it would never get cleaned.
We actually did do a nice bit of cleaning last week, so I wasn't too nervous when on the spur of the moment, I told Betty she and her kids should come over and use the pool. I figured we would order pizza for the kids, which we did.
What I wasn't prepared for was Betty getting into my kitchen to "help." Going through the fridge, opening cabinets, etc. She doesn't know where I keep anything; I didn't need the help, and it really bothered me. My kitchen is my space and I was surprised at how much I felt that when she was poking around in there.
Or was I worried she'd find something I'd missed in my admittedly hit-and-miss spot cleaning I had done after I realized I was having company that afternoon? Yeah, that probably has something to do with it. But even if I'm being neurotic... is this appropriate? Again, was I overreacting?
You see, I wouldn't dream of snooping through someone else's drawers and cabinets and opening their fridge unless I'm expressly told to do so. I'm also very slow to help when someone really does need help. Maybe because I'm a bit particular about how it should be done (which I know sounds weird after all the posts I've made talking about how much I despise housework, but who said one precludes the other?) -- I don't want to overstep the bounds. I need to ask what someone wants and I only do what I'm told to do. Which probably makes me an unwelcome dinner guest.
Last night, I told my husband how it bothered me when Betty was in the kitchen, and he felt the same way I did. Maybe it's the fact that he's British and tends to want to be very proper with people. Or maybe after 15 years together, he's as crazy as I am.
This afternoon, I told him what Brenda had done and he was outraged. "You should have told her to back off. She could have scratched your screen," he noted.
Yeah. I'm never sure how to clean the laptop screen. There have been a couple of times when I've used one of my eyeglass towelettes and it got too wet and left a spot (which eventually went away). I've tried the cleaners that are supposedly made for laptops and had the same effect. So I have been downright afraid to do more than run a Swiffer cloth on it and that doesn't do much with the electromagnetic field the thing generates.
And OK, I have a higher dust tolerance than most. Definitely more than Brenda.
"I couldn't say that to her," I said. "We were getting along!"
We're having a full PTA meeting tomorrow afternoon. Before I go, I'll be stopping off at Lenscrafters...