You can`t have your cake and eat it!
Today I have for you a tragicomedy which took place in 2015.
I was living in Laura`s studio (proud member of A Bunch of Magic family 🙂 ), in the middle of Bucharest and I was going about my normal, happy life. The neighbors started to know me; with some of them, I even collaborated on some projects regarding our lovely building.
One spring morning I opened the door to find Ms. F. in front of it. She seemed very excited. She was holding a gift bag and, with a trembling voice and a big smile, she said she came to congratulate me for getting married and she even brought me a wedding gift.
My face went from “Oh, thank you!” to “Wait, w-h-a-t?” in like 3 seconds because I didn`t understand how SHE thought I got married, since I, THE BRIDE, hadn`t. That scene seemed to be from a totally different movie (as Lucy likes to say).
After using my entire reserve of courtesy and a few well put questions to find out what convinced me, finally, to get married, in her Universe, I discovered that, in fact, her information was gathered the old way – eavesdropping – to a conversation that took place between some neighbors, at the building`s entrance.
At the end (I thought it was the end, poor me) she wished me love and happiness and all that wedding/marriage stuff. I said thank you but I reinforced the fact that I am sure it is just a name error (the bride had the same first name as me and she was living in the same apartment building).
She assured me she found out from my father-in-law that I got married to his son, the priest! I told her my boyfriend has a beard with a goatee but I know for a fact he`s not a priest (Or was he? Now she planted the seed of doubt in my head … 🙂 ).
After secular struggles (OK, our encounter didn`t last for 30 years, but to me, it felt like an eternity) she finally understood she had made a mistake, but, since she came to my door, she will leave me the gift, because she knew and liked Laura, and since I was Laura`s friend, I guess, in her mind, I was a good person, too. And yes, she did what she had said; she handed me the gift, even though I kept insisting she should give it to the real bride when she discovers who that is.
I knew Ms. F. from a few fleeting encounters and I managed to see that she had a few mental health issues; so I decided to keep the gift, a smoothie maker, the exact same way she gave it to me. I only took it out of the gift bag and put it in my wardrobe and I erased the gift and the event from my mind.
Six months later … I was getting ready to go to a seminar when I heard the doorbell. I thought it was Nick (another member of A Bunch of Magic 🙂 ) because she called me earlier saying she will come over to bring some clothes so I can take them to church or to give them away to people that might need them.
I opened the door smiling but the smile just dropped instantly from my face. Ms. F. was back in the game!
She looked upset and she started talking right away, jumping over the “Hello, how are you” and the rest of the boring introduction that makes our life more pleasant, with a serious tone of voice, urging me to give her the warranty paper from the smoothie maker, because she needs it urgently!
I opened the wardrobe and handed her the gift the way she gave it to me, unopened. It had a paper inside but I didn`t know what that was since, as I said, I never opened it. She questioned me why I didn`t use it. I told her, penitently, that I am not crazy about fruits and I didn`t see the logic of opening it just to gather dust. I felt a bit guilty, in front of this force of nature that was able to read into the depths of my soul and discovered one of my greatly hidden sins 😛 .
After she finished reading the paper, she declared, full of wisdom, that it was not the warranty certificate, but the juices recipes. I assured her I don`t have any other papers. She said that both the receipt and warranty were in the box with the smoothie maker. I said that might be possible, maybe I threw them away when I threw the box away. She kept insisting that I should look all over the house. She was a step shy of pushing me into the house to oversee the search I was doing, saying bitterly: “You didn`t even deserve it; you are not my friend!”
I tried for 15 minutes to explain the same thing, over and over again; I even told her she can take the gift back since it was unopened by me (I didn`t want to be malicious and say that I didn`t actually need it).
She looked at me like I was the one coming to her door trying to sell her my worn out panties. She vehemently declined to take it back and she left shouting, to leave the warranty in her letterbox when I find it, preferably very soon (oh, God, the echo on that stairwell was amazing!).
This dialogue took place with incredible speed, giving me no time to reflect or react.
As soon as I shut my door (and my blood pressure got back to normal) I remembered that, in fact, she didn`t give me the smoothie in a box, but in a shopping bag with knotted handles which was put in a gift bag. So I didn`t actually throw away any box! I didn`t have any reason to open it, knowing I will never use it.
What followed were a few days of reflection and analysis about my options at the end of which my brain gave birth to an idea; to write a few words, attach them to the gift and take them to her door. Knowing her state of mind (probably bipolar) and wishing to avoid any way of causing her more distress (to her and to myself), I asked for help from an angel. Not a heavenly one, but the wingless, earthly one. More accessible, I guess 😉 .
Mr. V. worked as a cleaner in our building and was the maintenance guy as well; he was very well-liked because he was helping everyone with whatever he could. We gained each other`s respect over the years; I helped him a few times so that made me work up some courage and approach him with my problem. When I said what I need him to do he looked a bit uneasy, but he said he will do it.
Three months after the second encounter I ended this “affair” on my terms, when Mr. V. delivered the gift, along with a letter, that read:
“Dear Ms. F.,
Considering our previous conversation in which you stated that I am not worthy of this gift (that you brought to my door in error) I am returning it to you, the way it was given, without the box.
I am really sorry that you have such a poor opinion of me and, to be of assistance, I am going to kindly ask you to never contact me again, in any way because I don`t deserve to be one of your acquaintances.
I wish you a beautiful day!
We never met after that, not even accidentally. One year later I left my country, so the chances of “the third encounter” went down to zero 😀 !