Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, February 29, 2008

Standing Up For Ourselves

I'm nobody!
Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there's a pair of us- don't tell!

They'd banish us, you know...

-Emily Dickinson

When I first met my Spouse he was sharing a house with a number of other tenants. Spoken like that it sounds, on the tongue, to be rather poetic and to flow well but the situation was far from pleasant.
I came to stay, as it turned out, for less than three weeks: we fully intended to find our own apartment and remove ourselves from the peculiar people and dreadfully uncomfortable living arrangements.
During my brief sojourn there I was made witness to a rather nasty atmosphere and wholly supported the decision to leave. Living with strangers is always a gamble and in our case it was a disaster. I am certain, though, that one member of the household came to know my thoughts and that I regarded him with a hearty measure of contempt.
My Spouse has always preferred to eat meals while standing, most especially in contrast to sitting at work for long hours.
One evening we were eating supper together in the shared kitchen. Spouse was standing, I was sitting comfortably. The individual entered the room and proceeded to forage in cupboards noisily. He paused all of a sudden, turned to my Spouse and demanded, "why are you always standing up?"
My Spouse stopped chewing. I looked at the speaker with bewilderment. It seemed a ghastly and rude thing to say to a person whom one does not know particularly well, and in the company of another that one met a few days previously.
My Spouse, ever amiable, replied gently, "I sit all day at work. I just like to eat while standing."
"Weird," muttered the Other. He returned to his task of digging in the cupboards.
"Just weird."
I laid down my fork and my knife. I pushed back my chair. I stood up from the counter I had been dining at, picked up my plate, turned my back on the churlish fellow and continued to eat my meal while- as some might say- being weird.
Of course I could not see his face when he turned around once more but I perceived the terribly long hush and gathered satisfactorily that the message was being conveyed and received in a direct and open manner.
I turned the tables on him, so to speak, and undid his horrid work.
I write about it years later not for any bitter reason but to recall with gladness a moment when I, trembling and newly arrived in the country, put my Spouse's feelings ahead of my timidity and did something that I thought was right.

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