Saturday we were at a Diwali event at a local community. Don’t quite know much folks there, but since the kids were to perform, went over. Recognized this one lady who MC’ed to be a local doc’s wife. I’d met her earlier at a common friend’s place. Since then she’s been one of those you bump into at arbit places. Like the grocery store far from her place, the movie hall [the random time I go!] or at a complete non-descript party I get dragged into going, and hey presto she’s there! You’d think a smile and a nod should suffice, but no, the woman learns magically some random stuff and details about me and launches off into inquisitive flowery questions, and almost always leaves with a parting shot that declares to no one in particular “I am sending my daughter to you for dance one day!”
The daughter in question is younger than my munchkin.
Sweet and flattering and all, but it’s just one of those conversations that you can’t come out feeling content . Or safe.
Last year I got tricked into going to this doc-husband’s clinic for one of the kids, I forget which kid. It’s one of those bugging itching throat thingies we had to go get an antibiotic for – you know the kind a mom diagnoses by herself because well, she’d faced enough of throat, ear infections over the span of grade schools? The kind that if you were in India, you’d just hop over to the local medical kadai and lean over the counter and tell your buddy pharmacist – gimme a 10 pack of that streptomycin pa, and we’d pop in those and continue on happily ever after? The kind that out here in the US, we’d have to make a special trip to the doc’s and worry about your Insurance getting accepted, wonder about co-pays, and scream secretly in your head “just give me the damned prescription, I shall me on my merry way outa your face!”
In any case, so this doc-husband is more of an amway sales guy than say a doc. The guy by now knows am a walking akshayapatra for his business. I mean, Mom of 3, ain’t I the gold mine for an attack! The moment he set eyes on me and my side kicks at this friend’s place, I knew his brain over worked the numbers and churned gears. Now that I think back, everytime the wife has asked me how my kids were doing and if the season wasn’t giving them the bugs?! Hmm..
So coming back to Saturday, apart from the wife’s misplaced jokes and killer pronunciations of good hearty South Indian names like Rajgopalan, or Panchapakesan, or even a Rastogi, the lady comes up with ridiculous sexist and inappropriate comments. As in announcing an entrant’s dance number from “jhoom barabar jhoom” she says “So now we have bla bla dancing for JBJ, and I’ve seen her rehearse and boy, she’s so good, all the young boys in the audience will enjoy it so much!”
The girl in question was all of 7 years old.
That line pretty much irritated the heck outa me. I had half a mind to bonk her head with the mike and perhaps hand it over the 7 year old. Am sure she’d have sounded sweeter and made much more sense. In any case, during the course of the event, there was some kids competition that got held and our Doc had sponsored the prizes for it. So the other saner MC, while giving them out mentioned that the Doc couldn’t come up due to “medical reasons”. One would naturally assume safely that the guy is not present physically, either coz he himself is sick or attending to the sick.
So, after dinner and juggling plans of all-girls sleepovers at one friend’s house, while the boys could come over to ours, I bumped into the lady. Again. Politeness made me stop and do an ‘omg, your son’s so grown up“, with all the right expressions thrown in for good effect.
She: Ramble Ramble
Me: nod, nod.
Out of the blue, the said Doc arrives with daughter in tow. I step back a bit hoping to slip into a sea of colorfuly dressed women, but no such luck happened, and I had to force talk inane 2 bit pieces of dialogs with the man himself. Luckily he gets ‘bravo’d’ by another male and leaves me alone with the wife.
So the natural curious question, this time from me, that followed was: “O I thought he wasn’t here, the MC said something about him being away on call or something? ”
She: O no, he was here all the while. He just didn’t feel like coming on stage.
Me: oh Right, I know, these husbands! *in a fake attempt to connect with her on the wives-getting-together-to-bash-husbands angle*
She: You see, he is not the vain kind and since there were other sponsors, he didn’t want all the glory for himself, he is such a nice person. He thinks about everyone else you know, not selfish – that’s the kind of great guy he is!”
Once the effect was beginning to wear off, which took a good 30 seconds, I sensed a hole being burnt into my back from my husband’s steely look across the hall. It’s a code now between us, when it’s time to head out he’d start shooting those dagger sharp looks, and I’d in turn have in built sensors that would make me turn around and leave. The kids are tuned too. Such IR puppetry we exhibit.
So, I murmur a hasty: ” gtg, chaos with kids and sleepover plannings, catch you laters”
To which she replies – yet again: “Okay sure Rads, my little one is coming to you for dance, soon” right on cue.
So on the drive back, I had all these guilt pangs appropriately attacking me every few turns on the road and though it was probably not right to have such a conversation with 3 – 12 year old boys and the munchkin behind, I couldn’t shutup and threw a rhetorical pensive question at the dashboard. Hoping of course, that the FM radio didn’t carry my voice backwards.
Me: So, would you like for me to sing praises of you to random people, like you know do a sati savitri style dialog, my husband’s so nice, he cuts veggies for me, does the dishes, see, such a great guy?
Husband: Huh? Which age are you living in? 500 BC? Please don’t say such stuff about me to anyone!
I slept like a baby that Saturday night, missing my favorite SNL.
Guilt, what guilt?