Paul was in town over the weekend, and we had made precisely No Plans, save for booking a reservation at Flex Mussels on Friday, and arranging a Bikram class on Saturday.
Friday turned out to be rather sour and humid. I left the office in a foul mood, and this could only be dealt with by rushing to have my nails done before meeting Paul. Hearing myself detail these small things now seems ridiculous and superficial, but you must understand, my life has been utterly abnormal for the majority of this year. To have an off-kilter day and then to simply leave midtown behind — and leave it for a such mundane pleasures as a manicure and mussels seemed rather luxurious.
For his part, Paul had somehow failed to connect that while it was chilly and rainy in Dublin, it was going to be hot and muggy in New York. So he arrived in a leather-trimmed, wool henley, jeans and loafers, explaining to me that his new outfit was due to a friend taking him shopping on a “Vampire Diaries” theme. (Paul is notorious for his casual dressing; his friends have tried to get him to step up his wardrobe.)
Stop it, I said, jabbing a freshly-painted nail in his face, Just. Stop. Don’t say anything more.
Really. There’s nothing more to say about someone having had the…audacity?…to attempt to dress up a large, rosy-cheeked former rugby player like a…vampire.
It took all my strength to contain my outrage in a mere raised eyebrow. I did not attempt to obtain the name of the offending friend and send him a harshly-worded letter, even after Paul told me the story of this fellow trying to get him to wear skinny jeans.
I did, however, force Paul to change out of the too-warm clothes before we headed into the East 80s for dinner, where I proceeded to hit the gin. I used to think I didn’t like gin, but recently observed that I simply didn’t like Tanqueray; Bombay Sapphire; the aftershave-y taste of juniper. Lately, I’ve been drinking Hendrick’s and it opened up a whole new world.
The problem was, gin made me mean.
So we were eating mussels and I was drinking gin, and yelling. Yelling about things that might possibly happen in the future. Screaming my head off about things that could and could not be done.
People at other tables stared. And yet, I could not shut up.
In retrospect, this was hilarious. At the time, it was less funny.
The next day, we went to yoga, after which, I offered Paul first dibs on the shower. He emerged in a steamcloud of soap-smells, at which point I discovered that he had been using the dog’s shampoo.
Which one did you use?
I used the one with the pink cap. The one that foams up?
That was dog shampoo.
In reality, it wasn’t that big a deal. The dog shampoo was not going to harm him. And as he later pointed out, it could easily be used as people shampoo too.
I suppose the thing is this: I try to control a lot of things. I try to be the boss, and make everyone jump, and I refuse to believe that any way other than MY way is best.
But sometimes, I am going to be knee-deep in gin at dinner on the Upper East Side, screaming about things that might happen in the future — and really, I don’t know what the future will hold. So I can’t be so rigid about what I will or will not do.
Sometimes, I need to not be the High Priestess of Appropriate Bath Products. People can make their own decisions about which products they want to use.
Sometimes, I just need to be more flexible.
My whole life I thought being firm, and strong, and steadfast was the harder, more admirable way of being, but now I am finding that it is infinitely more challenging, and perhaps, rewarding to yield to change.