Picture this: tiny restaurant. Quick dinner before my son’s basketball practice. Precious solo time with my youngest in which I hope to catch up and check in with him.
Our first five minutes are great. He’s telling me about his recent test at school, the book he is reading. And then, as luck would have it, an OET is seated next to us, barely a foot away.
OET, for the uninitiated among you, stands for overly EMPHATIC talker. As in, people who loudly overemphasize certain words and syllables. As in, “This dish is DElicous!” or “She has the most MARVELOUS home.”
I can handle these folks for a couple of minutes at a cocktail party. But do not ask me to talk over them for an hour while eating at a quiet restaurant, trying to decompress between work and my other job as a mommy.
Perhaps being in the early stages of a cleanse might also have had the teensiest effect on my tolerance. Perhaps I could have been a smidgen cranky. Just a smidgen.
This mother looked as if she was trying to do what I was trying to do—have a dinner to catch up with her child—in this case, a teenaged girl.
And so it began.
“So, hon, are you liking basketball?” I ask.
“Oh MY. They have a CHORIZO omelette. CHORIZO. Do you know what that is? I DON’T. We’ll have to ask the waiter. Oh, WAITER. The chorizo omelette INTRIGUES us. But what is CHORIZO?”
Really? I think. How can you live in Chicago in the 21st century and not know what chorizo is? We are nothing if not a cultural melting pot. But I digress.
“Sweetie?” I say.
“Huh?” says my son, eyes on our OET neighbor.
“I asked if you liked basketball,” I said.
“Um, yeah, I like it, Mom. I like playing with my—“
“DAD would love this. Maybe we should take something HOME to him. He’s been so BUSY lately, you know.”
“—friends,” says my son.
“At CHURCH last Sunday, they were talking about a QUILTING group I thought I’d join. Would you like to QUILT with me? I thought it would be so much FUN if we did it together.”
Teenaged daughter watches her mother intently and I can’t tell if the thought of quilting with this woman terrifies her or she is just a slow talker—but nothing comes out of her mouth.
“That’s great,” I say. “I’m so glad you’re enjoying basketball. We need to think about a spring sport. Anything come to –“
“MMMMMM. Oh my. This CHORIZO is the best I’ve ever had.”
Of course it is, lady. You didn’t know what it was five minutes ago. It’s obviously the first chorizo you’ve ever had.
“–mind?” I ask.
“POOR Mrs. Blanchard. She is just SICK over missing ladies’ group the other night. And we had SUCH a good DISCUSSION that night also. About NUTRITION.”
I guess they didn’t cover the fat content of chorizo in that discussion.
“What did you say, Mom?” says my distracted son.
“Never mind, sweets. Let’s finish up and get you to basketball.”
“Oh, are you LEAVING? We’re sitting so close and we didn’t even get to INTRODUCE ourselves.”
NO, we didn’t, m’aam. And yet, I feel I know you.
Have a FABULOUS dinner. But we have to GO. REALLY.