Guest-On-Guest Irritation

Over the past 6 weeks of visiting friends in Texas, Colorado and California I’ve stayed in many a house, some for hours and some for days. I was in one such house when a neighbor stopped by, eventually leaving me with one thought, “Good Lord, I hope I never do that!”

She mentioned “living overseas” a few times and I finally took the bait, asking where, for how long and when. “I lived in New Zealand for three–“ I thought she was going to say years. “–months.” What?!  “…in 1999.”


Firstly, three months is “staying”, not “living”. It’s debatable, but I say “living” starts at the one-year mark. Secondly, 1999 was 14 years ago – Clinton was president, Britney Spears was unheard of, and the media was abuzz with the imminent mayhem and doom of Y2K.

New Zealand appeared to be the extent of her passport stamps. She spoke authoritatively about New Zealanders and their culture, never once referring to them as Kiwis.

She mentioned a few times how “stupid” we Americans are. When I finally asked how “we Americans” are so stupid, she cited the old and tired “Why is it called the World Series?” example. Right. I’m “stupid” because in 1904 some Pittsburgh Pirates guy wanted to antagonize the Boston Team (or something.) Who cares. Baseball is just golf-in-the-air with hardhats instead of visors and 14 fewer bases.

She talked on and on at us about retirement, social security, and about what’s wrong with men these days. And of course, her theory on why women can hear better than men. (What?!) “It’s because we have PMS. It goes back to tribal times… women had to be more on-guard than men…” Um, ok sure. No one contested anything she said, but seemed to be waiting her out like I was.

A good chunk of her identity seemed to be tied to her being “a 43-year old woman”. Several statements began with “When you get to my age” and “Ever since I turned 40”, along with relief that she’ll never have to relive her thirties again. (Ok, sure!) At one point, she asked my friend and me, “How old are you two?” and neither of us responded. (I was focused on my computer. I’d retreated to the corner of the room and had started IMing things she said to a friend in San Francisco.)

If I ever start to have delusional, rambling, one-sided conversations (aside from this blog) can we agree on a secret phrase to hopefully snap me out of it? Maybe something like, “Susan, stop it! You’re a delirious middle-aged woman going on about a bunch of crap that no one cares about, much less believes.”

Do you know anyone who converses like this? If so, what’s the upside for absorbing the volume of conversation?!

Bonus: Here’s some scenery I tiled together from friends’ backyard in Orange County:


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