The Grateful Dread

Just recently, I went to a dinner party given by one of Lebasi’s friends. There were about a dozen or so guests all of whom knew one another in varying degrees.  That is, except for me, who knew no one but Lebasi.

Everyone seemed nice enough but I didn’t really connect with anyone. That, I attribute to two factors; the first and most important is that the person I was traveling with (and am always traveling with) was me.  Secondly, and possibly just as salient, was the fact that there was no hard liquor being served and I was embarrassed to been seen swigging red wine. So I wasn’t as loose as I sometimes can be.

It’s not that I didn’t make an effort to be social. I did. In fact, at one point I found myself in a long conversation with a woman who was probably very nice. I say “probably” because she had a very thick Spanish accent which made understanding her really difficult. I know that a lot of the time I wound up nodding my head as if agreeing to much of what she was saying.  For all I know, she and I may have planned a long vacation together. Yet, Senora X and I did manage a sustained conversation.  Unfortunately, what we wound up talking about included my three least favorite things — real estate, her health and my health. I’m giving myself a B+ for the effort.

As the party wore on we all helped ourselves to the main courses and settled into various places of the living room to eat. I was just about to dig in when I heard the sound of a spoon clanging against a glass. Someone wanted our attention. A woman I had briefly engaged with wanted the floor . . . I thought she was going to toast or thank our hostess. But that’s not what she wanted.  Not by a long shot. Instead, she related how at her house before meals, her family would go around the table to talk about what they were “grateful for”.  And wouldn’t it be a good idea for all of us to the same. I thought that actually that wasn’t such a good idea at all. But as an outsider it wasn’t my place to put the kibosh on such a nifty plan.

The fun began as the first guest spoke and the solemnity made its way around the room  After a few people spoke saying some sincere and sometimes platitudinous remarks, it became my turn. You should know something about me—-public speaking fills me with dread.  And, by “public”, I mean speaking to any more than one person.  So after the person before me made their little speech and all eyes were focused my way, I said, “Ditto”.  I thought that fit the bill quite nicely.

Well . . . no, I didn’t say that. Instead, I said what was in my heart, “I’m kind of a private person and since I don’t know any of you at all, I feel somewhat put upon to have to talk so personally and intimately to strangers.”  I thought this would really lighten the mood in the room.

Actually, I didn’t say that either. Instead, I said something to extricate myself from the nightmare I was in without actually touching upon what I was grateful for. Eventually, the grateful speeches made their way around to the woman who had suggested it and not surprisingly, she was well-prepared with her gratitude platitude(s). And then, we all got back to eating and being less thankful for our blessings.

After the party, on our way home, I complained to Lebasi about how I didn’t like being put on the spot in that way and maybe Ms. Gratitude might have been more sensitive that there was a  gorilla in the mist stranger in her midst and maybe  . . .  blah, blah blah. Lebasi was very patient with me and ultimately brought me down from my high horse and back to earth.  Now that’s something to be grateful for.


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7 Responses to “The Grateful Dread”

  1. apt3f Says:

    good entry – very thought provoking…I hope I would have just said “pass”… these situations always end up feeling competitive regardless of what the intention was…but then I imagine I would not be on the next guest list 🙂

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    thought provoking?? oh, oh…i’m slipping.

    i wanted to include what a friend suggested…”I’m thankful that up until now I have never been put in this situation before.”

    i’m sure you would have handled it well. Continue to enjoy your Mexico stay…

  3. Charnie Says:

    It is amazing, considering we are brother and sister, how much alike we are. (Intentional). I HATE that nonsense. Although I would have been knee deep in red wine by then.
    You know, I always refer back to “My Fair Lady”….
    Why can’t people be more like me.

  4. Jane Says:

    Oh yes. I was on a board that began meetings with a round of gratefulness. And the one and only time was was able to come up with a heartfelt, meaningful statement was at my final meeting as a board member when I got to say, “I am grateful that I am never again going to have to go around the room with gratefulness.”

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      I seem to have touched a nerve here. Are there more os ‘us’ or ‘them’?

      Good to hear from you

  5. paul Says:

    gratitude-platitude… hilarious. and so v true. the world is increasingly full of shared feels andor virtue signaling, most of which dont ring true and i wish were kept to oneself.

  6. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    ‘Virtue signaling’…i like that. hope you’re well

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