Thursday, September 15, 2011

Well played, cousin

Jenifer Junior High School Lunchroom.  Go Jacks!
A girl stopped me once in the school lunchroom to apologize for not inviting me to her party.  All day prior and then most of that same day I'd heard friends in class and in the hallways talk about a big, mysterious party.  "Did you hear about the party?" . . . "So and so is going to be there" . . .  "Are you going?"

"Totally!" I said, I didn't know what else to say.  And I was lying of course, much like pimple-plagued adolescent boys lie about losing their virginity: complete bullshit.  News travels fast in the hormone charged hallways of junior high.  The shock of my plans must've hit the hostess and her gaggle of girlfriends like a toaster falling into the bathtub.  Somehow, my unwelcome R.S.V.P. had forced her hand.  She was forced to play diplomat.

"Hey," she started.  "I'm really sorry I didn't invite you to my party."

As it turned out the party hostess and I were related (you know in that weird way when one distant relative marries some other distant relative; our bloodlines were sealed together like glue now).  We weren't close or anything, and found out only a short time earlier.  She shared the same last name as my uncle.  It gave us something to hardly ever talk about as was we moved between classes or roved between cliques.

"Oh, that's okay," I said.  "I've been hearing about it all day.  Don't worry about—."

"Yeah so, sorry I didn't invite you.  I didn't want any hard feelings since we're cousins and stuff."

She dropped it there and spun on her heel out the lunchroom door. She was received by her friends outside who cupped their mouths to stifle a few giggles aimed in my direction.  Abandoned, I stood between the cafeteria and the ala carte line painfully aware of how the whole scene must've looked to everyone else in the room.  Are they laughing at me now too?  And the worse part was I had no idea if the apology was also an invitation, or if the apology acted as an official un-vitation.  Well played, cousin.  Well played.

"It's cool," I offered up to the awkwardness, to no one really.