Oh, Yeah

So Topper comes up to the Reception Desk and says, "I'm taking an early lunch. If I don't take it now I won't get one, so I'm taking it now." The time is, like, 9:15. That's a.m. I had a caller the other day who asked what time it was in Scottsdale. "About 9:30," I replied, and she said, "a.m.?" and I just let her think it over. She was calling from Mississippi.

So Topper leaves and His Boss calls for him from off property, using his cel phone. I tell him Topper's taken an early lunch. "What do you mean 'he's taken an early lunch'?!" says His Boss. I didn't imagine "he's taken an early lunch" was prone to interpretation like a dream or piece of scripture, so I just let him think it over.

"What do you mean 'he's taken an early lunch'?!" he repeated.

"He's gone," I said. "He told me, 'I'm taking an early lunch' and he left."

"Well, that's interesting because we have a meeting in just a minute," he snapped. I didn't bother to disagree.

A few minutes after that, His Boss pulled into the parking lot, and a couple of minutes after that stormed past the Reception Desk, barking into his cel phone the entire time. The next thing I heard is My Boss on the overhead: "Topper, please call my extension, Topper."

The next thing I heard after that was My Boss rushing up to my side. "Have you seen Topper?"

"He took an early lunch," I said. "Hhmmm…He has a meeting with His Boss right now," she said.

So I just thought it over. "Oh, yeah?" I said. I have found this is the correct answer to make people go away, or give you a chance to escape.

Like from Topper. He likes to lead discussions to a point where you feel you have no choice but to admire him for his erudition, insight, or courage, and that's the sort of decision I like to make on my own. "Oh, yeah?" won't stop a conversation with him, but it gives you something to say before you just walk away, Renee.

But sometimes these diversionary tactics go terribly awry.

Like when I was sitting in the restaurant where Pat works. The proprietor, Nick, rubbed my neck and asked how I was doing that evening. Irritated by the unauthorized touching and not being of a mind to talk about myself, I tried to steer the conversation away from me by snarling something to the effect that his waiter kept calling me fat. It wasn't true. Pat wouldn't call me fat even if he thought it was true (and he probably does), though he spitefully said the word several times to my skinny mirror and it hasn't been the same since. Still, I thought a baseless discussion of Pat's alleged villainy would be good for a giggle. Instead, I got:

"Fat? Well, anybody would look fat next to Patrick!"

Wait a minute…did he just say I looked fat?

"Besides," he continued, "You're not so fat." He was stroking my hair. "In fact, let's have a look at you!"

He pulled my chair away from the table and I assumed a fetal position. I've felt less exposed stark naked.

"Years ago, your figure would have been considered very good-like Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield."

Marilyn Monroe? Jane Mansfield? I thought as I dragged the table back towards me. I recalled Monroe's figure Some Like it Hot, the image of which sent her racing for booze and pills-well, my rear is something like that, and hell, I'd be thrilled if more parts were but they aren't. The only thing I have in common with Mansfield is that I have touched a Chihuahua or two in my life.

My head was on the table and I was moaning. Pat was doubled over with laughter, thrilled beyond words that my little plan had so spectacularly misfired. Nick patted my back and said, "So what do you wear? A fourteen? A sixteen? That used to be standard."

A sixteen. Oh my god. "Oh, yeah?" I said weakly, and Nick, with the firm belief that I had finally been comforted regarding my body image, relented-and just let me think it over.

Written by Sharon C. McGovern

From Vol. 21

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