Too much togetherness

Oh gosh, it’s probably not a good idea to put this down because it’s about someone else, and it’ll look as if I’m making fun which I’m not and assuredly you’ll make fun of me, but there we go. These things happen. I may remove it once you’ve had your opportunity to laugh at me. Or possibly tell me I’m a hussy. Or something.

I generally go on our *society I’m chairman of* visits, because they’re well organised, they get me to places and exhibitions I wouldn’t get around to visiting, I do something sociable as well as informative and interesting, often for less money than I could do it by myself, I meet members and make new friends, I see old friends. The Sage rarely comes but usually someone sits beside me on the coach and that’s good. I realise that I’m fairly high-profile and so I’ve made the effort to get to know people which doesn’t come naturally (you may find that not likely, but I assure you, I’m not as outgoing in person as in print. Even when I meet bloggers, I’m in my Z persona so it’s easier to be relaxed), especially if they come by themselves.

A year or so ago, a nice chap sat with me and we chatted, and that was fine. Since then, he’s made a point of sitting with me, and at last month’s lecture he booked his place there, as it were. Which was still fine. When we arrived in London, I went off with other friends for coffee and then we met again in the foyer and he asked me what I was doing for lunch and I said, deliberately casually, that I hadn’t thought about it and I’d see what I felt like doing. Silly, I should have said I was going with another couple. Anyway, later on while we were going round the first exhibition he suggested we have lunch together. I felt a bit twitchy by this point – I’m a loner really. I like being sociable, but I don’t like being obliged. However, okay, I agreed.

When I came out of the exhibition I pottered around the RA shop for a bit and then went down to the entrance hall, where he was waiting for me. We went over the road to the *Queen’s Grocer* as he put it and had lunch. He insisted on paying, to my embarrassment, and as I didn’t have a lot of cash on me and had meant to pay by card, I couldn’t insist on him taking the money so all I could do was thank him and say lunch would be on me next time *sigh*.

We went back, met my friends and had coffee together and then went to the second exhibition. Fortunately, for I like doing things like this alone, I’d booked an audio guide so we didn’t stay together. However, and I stayed a longer time in the exhibition than he did, he was waiting for me again and wanted to take me for tea. Fortunately, we met other friends and all sat together, but I found at the end he’d paid for my tea too. No really, I don’t care for this. I don’t like being under obligations and I like to pay my way. I was so edgy during tea that I chatted to my (female) friend and left her husband to talk to him, and then another couple turned up so the conversation became general. I slept part of the way home, so chatted only intermittently.

As you can imagine, at today’s committee meeting I was ribbed considerably. I was completely rueful and good-humoured about it, and admitted that I obviously have a not-at-all secret admirer – this is okay, I want to have friends of course and appreciate the fact that I’ve reached the age that no one is going to look sidelong at me if some of them are men, because it all gets easier as you get older. I’m not suggesting for one moment that he’s going to make any inappropriate move nor even that there’s a sexual thing to it (in fact it’s that I’m ‘safe’ that is a lot of my appeal, I recognise). It’s just that he is being possessive. I’m embarrassed for his sake more than mine. He’s a nice chap and his wife doesn’t want to go on day visits, so if he’s alone and doesn’t know anyone else very well, I’m perfectly happy to have him sit with me. I don’t think anyone except committee members would have noticed he was being too attentive.

But I’ve had to say we’ll have lunch together next time, and I don’t mind – indeed, I have to buy him lunch. Fortunately, since my friends, for all their teasing, are sympathetic, I know they’ll back me up if I ask them to join us for lunch. But it did mar the day somewhat.

No really, it’s not always easy being completely adorable.

P.S. – Oh lord, I’m up to 168 unread posts again. I’m sorry if some of them are yours. I’ll catch up. I do read you all, as long as I know who you are (that is, all commenters and followers, a lot of others, if I’ve ever commented the odds are I still read everything you write).

14 comments on “Too much togetherness

  1. Newbie

    Hee! I love that you have someone after you!

    It must be tricky though, figuring out where the point is to have to say to someone “Look, your behaviour is bordering on the inappropriate…”
    Maybe being a married lady you trust the other person to just stay back a certain distance?

  2. Dandelion

    I hate that feeling. And I hate that it makes you feel you have to protect them from the embarrassment of their own behaviour. Yuk Yuk Yuk.

    Maybe this is a modern thing, but even if you don’t have cash, you can still insist on putting half on a card. You don’t need a better reason than that you wouldn’t feel comfortable otherwise. A good person would respect that. As it is, you’ve been bamboozled into sharing a second lunch. Which is Not Fair.

  3. Dandelion

    Oh and also, anon, I don’t think it’s right to say that people enjoy having their will being pressured. That’s just the kind of excuse that boundary-pushers try to use, and it isn’t on.

  4. lom

    OOOh Z you naughty girl, haha. I am a bit like you, I hate anybody paying for me, perhaps he is doing it to say thank you for being so kind to him.

  5. Z

    No, Anon (you terrible tease, you) I felt impatient, although I remained polite.
    He wasn’t being flirtatious and there was nothing to actually object to. In a way, if I were to draw attention to it being a bit much, it would look as if I was reading too much into it, which might be paradoxically encouraging. I really don’t think he’s got anything else in mind – you’re right Newbie, I assume he’ll respect the boundaries. He is just being friendly and the last thing I expect is that he’s going to ring up or anything.

    It’s just that it’s nice to be able to spend a bit of time with several different people – perhaps join some for coffee, a couple more for lunch, chat for a while with some others – and he was always there making it impossible. And if it’s a one-off, it doesn’t matter, but I don’t want it to start to be a regular thing, that we always spend the whole day together on these visits. I can see that it will put me off going, which would be a pity. I’m not being prudish, it’s just that it got too much, and a bit boring and I couldn’t get away without being rude.

  6. Liz

    It is always awkward when someone latches onto you like this – sometimes you have to be really careful about who you show kindness to as it can be misconstrued. It is particularly difficult when a male to whom you are not attached insists on paying for things.

    I sympathise and I hope you can find a way of ever so gently putting him off a bit without causing offence.

  7. Dave

    I am grateful for all this advice that ladies don’t want men to pay for things. I shall leave my wallet at home whenever I go out in future.

    I have no problem with being bought meals.

  8. sablonneuse

    Yes, I see what you mean. It’s sometimes not clear where the other person is coming from and you have to walk the tightrope between seeming offish or ‘encourageing’. It’s funny but also rahter uncomfortable. Can’t wait to hear how the return lunch goes. . . . . . .

  9. Z

    There’s a degree to which it’s all right – for example, Dave knew that I was simply taking him out to lunch for his birthday a year and a half ago. I neither put him under an obligation nor embarrassed him, because we were simply being friendly. But this chap had already been just a tiny bit too keen and he was too insistent that he’d pay. That would still have been all right if he hadn’t paid for tea too. It’s not the money, it’s being proprietorial.

    The return lunch won’t be until June, Sandy. I trust he doesn’t ask me to have lunch with him after one of our lectures, because I’m not going to. As you say, a tightrope. The silly thing is that most people I’d be happy to have lunch with, whether they paid, I did or we split the bill. And I know that many men, older ones in particular, feel uncomfortable with women paying, which was why I didn’t make a thing of it in F&M.

    You’re a young man, Dave, so you don’t feel the same way. Anyway, you haven’t got your eye on me , nor are you trying to impress me.

  10. heybartender

    Oh gods I am sorry. What an annoying situation.
    In regard to the 168 posts, this is why I don’t really subscribe to blogs. I simply bookmark them, get to them when I can, and backtrack. Which is why you will sometimes find me commenting on something which has happened long ago.
    Good luck with both of your obligations, Z. I know you will handle them with applomb.

  11. Z

    It’s only likely to occur occasionally – I suspect his wife ‘doesn’t understand him’ and nor does he cherish her. Why not for goodness sake? Be nice to your spouse and expect the same back has worked for us.

    I was glad of Bloglines when my computer went down last year because I lost all my bookmarks and I’ve never remembered some of them. If it all gets a bit much I skim through. One can ‘mark all read’ but the danger with that is that you miss something really important!


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