My friend Emma mentioned the other day that she’s very much looking forward to coming to our 10th anniversary barbecue next month. I was a bit perplexed by this because I wasn’t aware we were having one. She showed me the entry in her calendar:
“Reuben’s 10th anniversary barbecue (babysitter booked).”
What struck me later is that my first thoughts were not: “We have already been married for more than ten years, and we don’t own a barbecue”.
These were, to be fair, my second thoughts.
But my first thoughts were:
– Bloody hell – now that it’s in Emma’s diary, we’re going to have to arrange it.
– We’ll have to buy a barbecue and we can’t afford it.
– Maybe we could just use one of those disposable ones.
– Who else should we invite?
– My husband doesn’t even like barbecues.
All of this only took a few seconds and then I came to my senses. But it got me thinking about how extremely suggestible some people are (e.g. me) and how others are the exact opposite.
I’ve worked with people, for example, who completely refuse to respond to anything I ask, apparently on principle.
I say: “Please could you… [insert here completely basic function of their job]” and instead of saying, “Yes, of course!” they respond with a question of their own. The conversation then spirals into a bottomless pit of doom where I begin to consider eating my own arm.
So perhaps it’s better to be easily led like me. Although it must be said I’ve done many stupid things, just because someone has suggested them to me. Despite the fact that any kind of risk-taking makes me feel panicked and miserable, not excited and alive, I have been guilty of the following (you can surmise for yourself how old I was for each):
– ringing on doorbells and running away.
– climbing over a spiked fence to leave the grounds of a castle because it was quicker than going back to the main exit.
– stuffing rude notes through the next door neighbour’s letterbox.
– trespassing in an old lady’s garden in Siena in the middle of the night.
– drinking half a bottle of vodka in 30 minutes and spending the next few hours lying in a flowerbed throwing up.
I get that this is a pretty weedy list of misdemeanours to show for my 41 years. I expect I could dredge up some more if I thought about it really hard. But the point is that I didn’t want to do any of those things and nor did I feel good about them, either at the time or afterwards.
Anyway, the barbecue mystery was finally solved. It wasn’t “Reubens’ 10th anniversary barbecue” but “Reuben’s 10th anniversary barbecue” – i.e. the barbecue of Emma’s friend Reuben.
“You should both have paid more attention to the placement of the apostrophe,” her husband said, sternly.
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