Thursday, March 3, 2011

The art of introductions

"This is my adopted daughter, Margot."
That same day The Nana gave me her perfume bottles and pearls, she took me to a cute little French bistro for lunch. While we ate at a table near the back of the restaurant, a young trophy wife of a blond waltzed by.

"Hi Jeanne!!!" she squealed, waving at Nana and grinning through perfectly white teeth. (Something tells me this woman greets everyone in this manner and that her teeth have always been this sparkly white. Jealous)

Nana looked up from her coq au vin and squinted for a second as though she'd just seen Jesus in a piece of toast.

"Hello" Nana waved back, smiling pleasantly. The blond continued to make her way to a table at the far corner of the restaurant, where another trophy wife of equal maintenance and pedigree sat waiting for her.

"Who was that?" I asked quietly.

"I don't know; I couldn't see her," Nana replied, reaching for her glasses. Apparently Nana's eyesight is a bit worse than I thought. She can see, but only really with her glasses on. Which made me wonder: Why had she been eating across from me this whole time without them on? Was she trying to block me out? Pressing on.

She picked up her specs and peered through them across the room at the blond. "Ohh, that's my neighbor Janice," she said. "She's the youngest one on our street." 

An afternoon on Nana's street is like stepping into a Golden Girls episode. Everyone on the road is above 70, tending to their gardens and relentlessly checking their mailboxes every hour because it's a good excuse to get out of the house and take a walk, after all. When they aren't outside they're perched near their living room windows watching their neighbor's every actions before they pick up their phones and call each other to gossip that "Marilyn's lawyer son just pulled up to her house for a visit," or that "Sue must be hitting the bottle again since she's outside in her bathrobe with a trowel."

I love them. All of them. But now the million-dollar homes on that street have begun to change hands, with their older more feeble tenants shipped off to nursing homes or their children's houses where care is more readily available, and a new generation of families are moving in starting with "Janice", who looked no more than 35 and fabulous, like a well-polished diamond. 

Later, after our meal, Nana grabbed my arm and said she wanted to stop by Janice's table to say hi and introduce me. (One of the great things about grandparents is they show off their grandchildren -- no matter how old -- as if they were show poodles. Doesn't matter how much or how little you've accomplished, just being a grandchild seems to give grandparents ample pride.) We sidled over to their table and the seated pair beamed at us like a couple characters in that "Black Hole Sun" music video. 
"Hi dear," Nana said to Janice. "I'm so sorry back there, when you said hi I couldn't see who it was. I wasn't wearing my glasses."

"Don't worry about it Jeanne," Janice said. 

"I just wanted to introduce my granddaughter, Crystal..."

"Hi!" I said, shaking her hand. 

"...Crystal's between jobs right now." Nana added.

 Um, okay. Awkward. Normally you follow up a name introduction with some other pithy factoid, like "She lives just down the freeway from us," or "She's 28," or "She's my oldest grandchild." Not: "This is Crystal, and oh by the way she's between jobs right now."

I felt like that scene from The Royal Tenenbaums when Royal introduces Margo to his party guests as: "This is my adopted daughter, Margot." 

Like Royal's introduction, Nana's was just a smidge unnecessary. Especially coming from a woman who has never worked a day in her life (the family inheritance that was passed down to her at a young age was, well, huge). But then I figured Janice might be some corporate power player, where occupations and careers are of dire importance to how she sizes up strangers. 

After we left the restaurant I needed to know. 

"What does Janice do for a living?"

"Nothing," Nana replied. "Her husband makes a lot of money as an engineer, so she does whatever she wants. Lunches, spas..."

"Ah, that would explain why she looks so well taken care of," I said.

"Oh yes, she's very well taken care of."

I wanted to ask, then, why Nana felt it necessary to update this Janice woman on my current job status ... but then thought against it. The only person who's probably worried about it is Nana herself since she constantly brings it up. And that's fine, I know she wants the best for all her grandchildren. I just wish she'd understand that she's got nothing to worry about. 

I am fine.


  1. My grandmother would do the same thing only she would add between boyfriends as well. :)

  2. Actual conversation with my Nana today on the phone.

    Nana: So, how's the job hunt going?
    Me: Fine.
    Nana: Any prospects?
    Me: Not really, I'm not too worried about it yet. I have some time before I need to panic. Besides, I landed a part-time freelance writing gig. You know I want to focus on writing, so I'm looking into working at Starbucks or Whole Foods or somewhere to make ends meet. I hated my "real" jobs.
    Nana: (audible gasp) Why would you want to work in retail? What am I going to tell my friends!?!?!?

    I love her.

  3. If I was the kind of person who hated, i'd be hating this Janice in absentia for you. Never become Facebook friends with her. It would be awful.

  4. Even though she hasn't worked a day in her life, unfortunately people still equate who we are with what we DO. I definitely do NOT label myself with what I do from 8:30-5 pm Monday thru Friday. Do you think you'll ask her why she intro'd you that way?

    If it makes you feel better my grandma always would say something like this when intro'ing me. "This is Stephanie, my oldest granddaughter of 10. She isn't married yet, but I hope its soon." Again, people label by milestones (college graduation, marriage, babies, etc). I don't think she meant harm.

  5. What an odd way to introduce someone! But perhaps that's what was on her mind and therefore, she thought it most important to disclose. We all get sort of odd in our old age!

  6. @BessWess: That would definitely be a Bridget Jones moment!

    @Kirsten: LOL. Your grandma is hilarious! I guess all it really comes down to is what they'll be able to "tell their friends." ;)

    @Rodell: I wish you were there to witness the spectacle in person!

    @Stephanie: Why is that so true? My job wasn't who I am, it's what I did!

    @Jessica: So true. ;)