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Life Arts    H4'ed 1/7/10

She Nose, Doesn't She?

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A friend of mine whom I'll call Carol (to call her "Wolfgang" would be completely wrong because that's not her name) has a very pretty perfect face and a perfect nose to go along with it. It's not store bought; it came directly from her gene pool. Her porcelain skin rarely gets shocked with sun or chlorine. She is a really lovely drop dead gorgeous woman.

But, back to her nose. Carol's nose is absolutely perfect but for one minor problem. She has this tendency to stick it into everybody's business. How such a perfectly formed, God-given nose can find its way into everyone's life and still manage to inhale fresh air, the scent of brownies, catch a cold, sneeze, smell a rat or hide boogers is beyond me. Carol is apparently a nose it all.

I don't know about you, but I have certain firewalls borders in place and sexually vibrant men boundaries around me when it comes to personal matters. Yes, this coming from the woman who talks about her sometimes nonexistent or imaginary sex life and relationships. I value and respect the right to privacy in others and fiercely value and respect my own. Carol doesn't seem to nose this. Last night, Carol and I decided to meet for drinks dinner and catch up on each other's business lives. Carol is the CEO of a successful nonprofit that I contribute to when she puts a gun against my head as often as I can. She is divorced and has two great kids. I don't identify many kids as "great" normally. Especially if they are teenage boys. I tend to think of them as non-profit vampires of refrigerator contents and laundry detergent mixed with high-test testosterone. So when I say her kids are really great, I mean it in the sincerest way possible as long as they finish cleaning out and reorganizing my attic and garage by next weekend. They are polite, well educated and are coming into their own as young, responsible adults. And they are not nosey like their mother.

As Carol and I were perusing the menu, my cell phone rang. I briefly took the call, confirmed that Tuesday would be fine, excused myself for cutting the conversation short because I was at dinner with a friend and said I would return the call later in the evening or this morning. Then I hung up the phone and returned to trying to read the small print menu.

"Who was that?" Carol asked. I pretended not to hear.

"Elizabeth, what are you doing on Tuesday? Do you have a date?" she forged on.

Have you ever noticed that three seconds of silence on TV is called "dead air" for a reason? Three seconds is an awfully long time when nobody says anything. I wasn't biting. I didn't even look up from my martini menu. I knew that Carol was dying to know something that was none of her business and for that reason alone I refused to answer. Carol doesn't raise millions of dollars every year in complete silence by taking "no" for an answer. I was enjoying watching her squirm my drink and I thought we got beyond the moment.

"What are you going to have?" I asked Carol, pretending she had not just broken into the section of my life called "none of your my business".

A little uncomfortable and more than annoyed she responded, "I think I'm going to have the pear salad and risotto special. How about you?" I told her I was going for the crab cakes and the Porterhouse steak. I have a big appetite and have been consuming a goregous Italian pasta for almost one week straight. Get over it. We ordered and talked about the state of the world.

Carol's cell phone rang. She took the call and chatted animatedly for more than a few minutes. Carol would be great on TV. There would be never be dead air time. I checked my e-mail in the meantime, responded to two texts and ordered another martini before Carol hung up and apologized. And then she started to tell me who she was talking to and what was going on and gave me a ton of information that was none of my business I was not interested in knowing. At all. I cut her off before oxygen would have to be brought in the third paragraph.

How can recounting a conversation take longer than the conversation itself, I wonder? I know that this is one of the things that drive madden men to drink most.

"I'm not really interested," I gently told Carol. "Ann is your friend (whom I have never met) and I can tell you that if I were she, I would not be too happy about you sharing what was obviously supposed to be a conversation between you and her. If this was meant to be a three way, don't you think Ann would be sitting here with us and it would be up to her to decide if she wanted to share?"

No dice.

Carol pressed on and explained that Ann is very open and would have no problem with the fact that Carol had just shared information about Ann's recent scare with colon cancer. Me, I'm just not buying it. After Carol stopped talking about herself, her kids, some upcoming event that I need to attend and her on again, off again boyfriend, she came full circle and tried aproaching my business the control tower one more time.

"So who called?" she asked sweetly (we were well into the wine by now) and had finished our entrees. Dead air again. Now this was just too much fun. I picked up a big spoon of crà me brulee and with a smile on my face, stuffed it in my mouth and simultaneously responded, "None of your business I'm not telling". The waiter arrived with the check just then and as I gave him my card and sent him off. Carol sulked a little and we made small talk. The waiter returned with the receipt and my card and I feigned a yawn as I did the math and signed the bill.

She thanked me as I was finishing up and I nodded and told her she was very welcome. As we left the restaurant and headed to our respective cars, I nonchalantly asked Carol, "So is it true that your ex had a really small penis and was lousy in bed?" I was in my car before the dead air could hit me. I think she learned her lesson. It cost me $158 plus the tip to teach it to her. She nose better than to ask me anything that is none of her business again.

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Patricia A. Smith is a writer and artist (and sometimes both at the same time). A former columnist, restaurant critic and cruise line executive, Smith has lived in London, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Egypt, Costa Rica and France. She returned (more...)
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