Careful! People Might Take you at Your Word

Cake by Chriss

Image by Chriss from Flickr.

An incident is arising in my mind from the mists of time, perhaps because I’ve been planning several events recently. My husband and I had purchased our first house in a Duluth neighborhood. Our son was one, so we decided to hold a combination birthday party and open house for our friends and the neighbors.

On the afternoon of the party, many people showed up. Things were in full swing when a couple from down the street rang the doorbell. We hadn’t met them yet and were happy to see them at our door.

After introductions, the woman said something like, “I’m sorry, we don’t have time to stay, but we just wanted to say hello.” My husband and I expressed our disappointment at this. We chatted a few moments more and then they went on their way.

I was surprised some months later to learn from my mother (who lived in our same city) who in turn learned from one of her friends who was acquainted with the couple, that they were incensed and highly affronted that we didn’t insist they come into the party.

I stared at my mother in disbelief at this news, then started to laugh. Oh the social games people play! I had never run into that behavior before. And I’m sorry, I’m not the type of person to beg people to come to parties if they’ve said they can’t. Imagine that — the couple was angry because we believed what they said.

We lived in the neighborhood for a few years more and never did run into the couple, so we had no chance to smooth things over.

I suppose they had expected us to say, “Nonsense, please come in. We’d love for you to stay!”

Instead, they got, “Oh, sorry to hear that,” and eventually, a goodbye.

In our defense, we were new homeowners, new parents, and unschooled in social mores. But I do hope the experience made those neighbors think twice before they tried this tactic on others. I’m sure there are other people in the world who think people actually mean what they say.

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