I've had a cold/flu/misery for a few days now. This always leads to weird sleeping patterns and restless body-ness, especially as I start to recover. Last night I couldn't sleep, no matter what I tried.
I was lying in bed, listening to Mr. Zoom snore. Suddenly I remembered a happy hour I attended in 2001, where I managed to chase a grown man from our table using the word Pee. And it hadn't been on purpose. But it was damn funny - now.
Back then I was about a year away from meeting Mr. Zoom. I was spending a lot of time with various friends, and I lived on my own. We were all in our 30s at the time. One of my closest friends happens to work with many of her very own closest friends at the same company. They were all meeting for a happy hour one Thursday night, and she had asked me to meet them there. This would not be the first time I'd met up with this particular group of people, but I didn't know them all that well yet.
I always worked late, so I drove myself over. Because I was driving, I didn't have any alcohol. I was and still am a Half Can Sam and knew I'd never be able to drive even on one drink. I routinely ordered a diet coke or pepsi, and was happy with that. I got a lot of grief about this. Mostly from people who were just trying to make small talk or didn't know that I really couldn't handle my booze at all.
At this particular happy hour was a guy who knew my close friend and her friends very well. We had met once before at a previous happy hour. We'll call him Mr. Fitful Disguised as Mr. Sense of Humor. Mr. Fitful for short.
I finished my harmless beverage and Mr. Fitful offered to buy me a beer. I politely declined, and told him I was driving, so no booze for me. Then he offered to get me another soda. Again, I politely declined because I was honestly not going to have any more. The caffeine would have kept me up all night and of course I said to him "besides, if I have too many of those, I'll have to keep getting up to pee."
Because when I feel like I'm being cornered, I start to talk. And it's never good. This, by comparison to other situations, felt like a 1 on the awkwardness Richter scale. Mr. Fitful looks me dead in the eyes and says "Please, do not ever speak of pee in front of me again."
I mistook this for a very dry sense of humor and a bit of a gauntlet at my feet. So I spent the next 10 minutes referencing pee as often as I could. Not just to him, but the whole table. Like most groups of fairly close friends, there's not a lot you can't say in front of them. And while I didn't know everyone - by the standards of my pal that was there and previous outings, we were all being VERY mild.
Mr. Fitful pounded his fists on the table, looked at me and said "I TOLD YOU never to say that word in front of me!!" With that, he got up and walked away from the table. Leaving his jacket behind.
Being the spectacular judge of character that I am, I STILL thought this was a joke - although at this point I felt it had gone into uncomfortable territory. The table was quiet for about 3 seconds before laughing and talking resumed. About a half hour later, Mr. Fitful had not returned to the table. His friends and co-workers started asking questions and they started searching for him in the bar. Finally, someone reached him on his cell phone. They reported that he had LEFT left, and gone home. Angry. At me.
Because I said Pee. Too many times.
I was dumbfounded. And then I was embarrassed. I had just chased a grown man from a happy hour table in a bar, who worked with and spent time with a close friend of mine. What was WRONG with me?? People kept trying to tell me not to worry about Mr. Fitful, that he was a little "odd" and they had all become accustomed to it.
I had read Mr. Fitful so well, I was sure that these people were simply doing what I was incapable of doing - being polite. I made up a very flimsy excuse to leave and drove home immediately. I'm pretty sure I ate an entire quart of ice cream that night. Even though I'm lactose intolerant.
Months and months later, my pal eventually convinced me that Mr. Fitful was known for erratic behavior like that, and nobody at that table thought I'd been rude or done anything wrong. In fact, I think I recall my friend reporting that he left the company they all worked at under less than gentle circumstances.
Years later, those people at that table are probably as close to me as my own family. I can say pee in front of them as many times as I want, and nobody will go home angry. That's not to say I won't say the wrong thing most of the time, but the difference now is that they all know me well enough to know that I'm just a harmless nervous talker.
And that I shouldn't be taken out to important corporate events.