Sunday, May 20, 2007

If you can't say anything nice, we're probably best friends

The girls were out of town this weekend so Jim and I decided to do the one thing we never get to do in peace while they are here...

Go out to dinner, of course. (What did you think I was talking about?)

It was a 30-40 minute wait for a table, so we settled in at the bar. It was nice to just sit and have an uninterrupted conversation. I ran into a couple of old clients and caught up with them. Then we chatted with a family of Jim's regular customers that was also waiting for a table.

Then my old boss walked in.

His name is Joe. His was the first salon I ever worked at. I apprenticed there during my last third of beauty school and worked full time there for a couple years beyond.

The salon was Joe's first forray out on his own. The salon was brand new when he took me on as an apprentice. He had just left a place where he had worked for over 10 years, and swore up and down he wouldn't make the same mistakes his former boss had. Right.

To be honest, it was never really Joe that I didn't get along with. He may have been a decent hairstylist, but he wasn't what one would consider a scholar. It was easy to ignore his pissy episodes because he just wasn't a very smart man. It's not nice to pick on slow people.

No, my problem was with the Mister of his relationship: Tom.

Tom was Joe's longtime boyfriend. Joe treated him like shit and Tom took it. It was kind of embarrassing to watch.

Tom and I butted heads almost immediately. Tom was a cunt in every faction of the word. He was 15 years older than Joe (and a good 25 years older than me), and thought because he was older, he automatically was wiser.

In the first few months of my employment Joe took us all to a class in Chicago. For reasons I'll never figure out, Tom tagged along. I'm pretty sure Tom was there only to make sure Joe didnn't get into any trouble. He may have been a doormat, but he also took on the role of smothering mother hen at every opportunity. I think he knew that if Joe had the chance to have any fun, he would leave Tom behind in the dust.

At breakfast before the class, a song I recognized was playing.

"I love Ella Fitzgerald," I shared. "I have this album at home. My Aunt bought it for me a few years ago."

"This isn't Ella Fitzgerald," Tom snorted through his disgusting white moustache.

"Yeah, I'm sure it is. I have this at home. It's a collection of Cole Porter songs."

Tom seemed to enjoy the fact that he was "putting me in my place". How could I, at 22 years old, possibly know anything about jazz legends? "It's Billie Holiday, dear."

Then I was pissed. I know it was just a stupid song, but I knew I was right. Why take it any further? But I wasn't ready to back down.

"Look, I know I'm right on this one." Everyone at the table stopped talking and waited to see the next move.

What I didn't know at the time, being so new to this circle of friends, is that Tom does NOT like to be told he is wrong (by anyone but Joe, of course). They weren't afraid of him or anything. They just wanted to see if I could stand up to him.

I could see that he wasn't going to back down, and our food came anyway. I let it go with a, "I guess we'll have to agree to disagree" and a hearty eyeroll.

Minutes later Tom got up to "use the restroom". A few moments after he got back a waiter approached out table to check on our progress. Before walking away though he addressed Tom personally and said, "Sir, I checked with the manager. It's Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole Porter."

Tom didn't talk to anyone for the rest of the meal.

During the next couple of years we had many more disagreements and stupid spats. I honestly can't believe he never made Joe fire me.

I ran into Tom years after I quit that salon. I was grocery shopping with Mina who wasn't yet 2 years old at the time. I caught Tom in the corner of my eye and felt a tinge of rage rising up. I decided that avoiding him would be the best course of action lest I swear in front of the immpressionable little sprout in my shopping cart.

He saw me though, and it was too late.

"Hiiiiii Chaylene!"

I shot him an icy glare.

"Don't you remember me? It's TOM!"

In my best bitch-on-a-stick tone, "Yes, I remember you."

His face fell, and he slowly turned away, "Oh..."

Immature? Maybe. But it felt good not to pretend to be nice just for the sake of civility. That's how I roll.

Years later I heard through the HairBitch gossip mill that Tom had walked into the backroom of the salon afterhours to find his beloved Joe getting a blowjob....from a woman. A woman Joe had been cheating on Tom with, and later married.

I know Joe saw Jim and I at the bar, but he made a concerted effort to avoid my gaze. He looked kind of scared to be honest. Maybe he remembered that he told me I would "fail miserably in my career" after I told him I was going to another salon. Maybe he remembered the snide remarks he made about what my husband does for a living (that he thought would never get back to me). Maybe he just knows that I wouldn't hesitate to to tell him to go fuck himself in front of his wife (I still don't get that) and friends. He never did talk to us though.

I suppose if he would have ventured over I would have put aside the past and forgave his stupidity and tantrums. I would have had the chance to shake his hand and thank him for humiliating Tom like I never could have.

Then I would have checked his wife for an Adam's Apple.


yllwdaisies said...

I like not having to pretend to be nice when you truly don't like the person.

And I'm fine if ppl don't pretend to be nice to me if they truly don't like me. Some ppl feel pressure to like everyone & want to be liked too. It's too draining.

Yea for you 2 having a nice night out! Hope you had dessert too!

Winter said...

Yes, you are right. We would be the best of friends.

Anonymous said...

WTF did that idiot say about my business?

I'll stick my foot up his ass.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

So, did Joe have to give up the hair business after he turned straight?

Grant Miller said...

I hate bumping into people unexpectedly. It forces me to look and listen to them - two things I'm horrible at.

Beth said...

You're my hero for sneering at Tom in the store. Any idiot who can't tell the difference between Miss Ella and Miss Billie doesn't deserve respect.

Hanmee said...

You had me at the title of this post.

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