Tit-for-Tat

It's ironic because it is what I actually wanted: for her to leave me alone, to stop criticizing and correcting every word that came out of my mouth and thus making me feel like there was nothing I could do to (as Nutt puts it in Terry Pratchett's most recent Discworld romp) "accumulate worth." But when I finally told her how I just couldn't take it anymore, trying all the while to explain what was so upsetting me, she responded by insisting that we not talk for a month--although with the confusing stipulation that we should still be polite to each other in public. Confusing, because as I learned yesterday, this means pretending in front of everybody else that nothing is going on and so, therefore, effectively lying; saying, "Yes," when asked if she wants to do something with me, only to turn around once we are alone and insist that she meant, "No." Fine. Whatever. Just get out of my head!

It's embarrassing. Here I am, mid-life, embroiled in a squabble that would embarrass even the denizens of most playgrounds, reduced to whinging on my blog as indirectly as I possibly can so as not--heaven forbid--to embarrass her. Because, of course, she hasn't done anything wrong, right? But she was the one who started it! Or was it I? I think that, as the aged alpha bitch, I've been giving her plenty of warnings that I was about to bite. But clearly she has been missing--or misunderstanding--all of my cues. That time back in August when I told her not to correct me when all I had meant to do was make a joke about what one could do with a particularly fancy sword. That time a few weeks ago that I told her I didn't need to be told how to drive in my own neighborhood. That time just last week when I insisted that the person she was talking about was someone I had known for well over six years while she had only even talked with him once or twice and therefore that I might just possibly know a little bit better than she what his life circumstances were. It's ridiculous. Why am I sitting here even trying to justify myself? There's nothing to justify! It's her fault. And yet, I know she doesn't see it that way and that she will never apologize.

I've been trying to figure out why I can't just let this go. It would be so much easier--not to mention saner--simply never to talk with her again other than to exchange the most chillingly perfunctory of greetings. It's what she wants me to do now. Lord knows, I've had plenty of practice over the years smiling that smile that uses only your teeth when what you really want to do is run screaming from the room rather than spend another minute in conversation with that person whom you simply do not trust and yet must work with because he or she is a colleague. And yet, here I am, thinking about her rather than playing with my new printer/copier/scanner/fax (woohoo!) or rereading the Dream of the Rood (oh, the power of the Cross!) or watching more dog videos or anything other than thinking about her. Sigh. I think I figured it out this morning as I was biking into campus. It's not that I want to be friends with her. I'm not really sure we'd be having this spat if we had ever actually been friends. It's that I want her to do the one thing she has never been able to do in any encounter that she and I have had: yield status. Which, of course, if she had done, would have enabled us to be friends.

I'm sure she's thinking the same thing about me. Actually, no. If she's sane, she's not thinking about me at all at the moment. But if she were as idiotic as I am, I'm sure this is what she'd be thinking: "If only she had been able to let me be right about how to get to the freeway; if only she would acknowledge that I know people whom she doesn't; if only she would accept my corrections." Which I'm not going to, not under these circumstances, because, quite frankly, I do not correct every single thing that she says. Except, of course, when she's wrong because she's talking about things that I know better than she does.

Oh, we must be such a pair for others to watch! If only (as P. J. O'Rourke once put it) age and guile really did beat youth and innocence. Kids these days, they have no respect for their elders!

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