Monday, October 24, 2005

Wicked Witch of the Midwest

So, from out of nowhere (I swear) a reputation for ill-temper seems to have been cultivated about me. Well okay it's not completely from nowhere. I think it might be connected to my lack of receptiveness to last minute social plans - and I use the word "plans" loosely - that are the preferred method of gathering for my dear inlaws. Leaving a message on the wrong person's cell phone a couple of hours before a dinner outing that specifies a location but not a precise time and no central rally point is the sort of "planning" they are fond of. These chaotic rendezvous make me crazy, partly because of my own neurotic needs such as always being early and not backtracking while driving to a destination, both of which rules are violated by the surprise change of location at the last minute or the lack of information about the correct time to arrive, etc. While I recognize that most people do not suffer from the need to conform to these guidelines the way that I do, I think the vast majority of us do at least prefer that some degree of forethought and communication precede family gatherings that involve multiple family units traveling to a single location via separate vehicles from different points of origin. I don't think it's terribly unreasonable to expect these two basics to be established in advance: time and place. I've certainly wasted enough hours keeping my schedule open for tentative last minute plans and waiting around for late family members to show up to have earned the right to be irritated. But my frustration over numerous poorly-executed meetings has somehow translated into a reputation for being a grumpy woman who never wants to get together with the family and always has to be coerced into attending and will instantly veto any suggestion involving spontaneous activities. This was painfully illustrated this weekend when several family members in attendance at a wedding celebration suggested going out to a relative's new restaurant in a town an hour away at the spur of the moment. When I immediately agreed to go along, I was met with several stunned looks and a fair degree of amazement. They seriously expected me to go off the deep end. And I have to say that Mr. Blue does absolutely nothing to dissuade his relatives of their conclusions about me. Not only does he repeatedly keep his mouth shut even when he agrees or is as frustrated as I am, making it look like I'm the only bad guy, he also reinforces my bad reputation by making pessimistic assumptions about my reaction to a suggestion. His family, who goes to him first as the conduit to me because I am so difficult to please, presents the idea to him, and he says, "Well I already know the answer but I'll ask her anyway." Why don't they tape a sign to my back that says "Beware of Bitch" and be done with it? And what am I to do to keep the peace? Shut up, go with the flow, and pretend not to be bothered by all the inconveniences I suppose. It's not as if we don't all enjoy each other when we finally all get to where we're supposed to be. We have lots of fun, and lots of affection for each other. It seems hopeless to think these events will ever be better planned. Even if I plan the whole thing myself and tell them to be there earlier than I actually want them to come, they will manage to be late. It runs in the blood, I see the tendencies in Mr. Blue and I'm sure they've been passed on to Little Blue, as it is clearly a dominant trait in this family. But I hate that being the only one raised with a different approach to organization makes me the bad apple. It's hard enough to mix families together without them all thinking you're impossible to get along with. And hard enough to be so far from my own family and our traditions without having to face these situations without any help from the one person among them who is supposed to be my teammate.