Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year! (The Too Much Information Edition)

Too much information, or TMI, is when a person you don't know very well (if at all) reveals details about their life that you consider to be too intimate for a first-time meeting. So really, classifying an encounter as a TMI episode falls squarely on you, the listener. 

Perhaps this casual acquaintance has revealed that they can hardly wait until baggy overalls or asymmetrical long-sleeved mesh shirts make a comeback: Ahh! TMI! You may think. This person has horrible fashion taste and shouldn't let other people know about it!

Or maybe you're scoping out the blogosphere and are frightened by the sheer volume of parents who dedicate multiple posts to their children's bowel movements (or lack thereof): Ahh! TMI! You may think. This person clearly has no concept that Google is all mighty and powerful and their kid's bowel movements are forever and always recorded on the Internet for future playground bullies to use as ammo against their kid: "Hey I heard you were a constipated baby! GROSS."

And if anybody out there thinks that children would never tease a classmate about such ridiculous things, obviously you were homeschooled and were never forced to be on the receiving end of the pack-mentality of a bunch of playground kids who verbally shoved you around one random Wednesday because the class bully started it, and they don't want her teasing them. Or maybe you were the bully, and as such can never imagine your child being teased because you weren't.

In any case, parents, for the love of future therapy, no one cares if your child craps or not. But your child sure as hell will in twenty years when they realize you've embarrassed the beejeezus out of them.

TMI for a few extra followers?


My personal threshold for TMI is when a person I don't know at all decides to share all the failings of their ill-requited love affair. Which, oh wait, Dan and I had the uncomfortable pleasure of being in such a TMI experience a mere twenty minutes into the New Year.

A few minutes before midnight, Dan and I went over to our neighbour's place to ring in the New Year with a glass of champagne with her and a few of her friends. We were standing around, our host tipsly filling our glasses, and making polite conversation with one lady who filled us in on a five month trip she took around the United States, twenty years ago.

After we'd toasted midnight our neighbour served dessert, a few people resumed a Monopoly game they'd been playing, and Dan and I sat on the couch with the intent to basically--TMI--eat and run. As we were eating, the United States traveller came and sat beside us, and I noticed she was stirring her coffee with an air of heavy melancholy. And when she looked up at me, her eyes were glassy with tears and I worried that perhaps telling us about her great American adventure had left her feeling despondent.

No, no.

It was worse than that.

"I have been hit by Cupid," she sighed, as a tear slipped down her cheek.

So Dan and I looked at each other and smiled because doesn't getting hit by Cupid mean you're in love? Which is good? We kept our smiles plastered on while she continued.

"Yes, hit by Cupid. My neighbour, it's such a deep love. But his wife..."

(We still continued smiling.)

"...she found out about us. Crying, so much crying."

(We were still smiling, trying to process what she was telling us.)

"I don't know why she cared. There was much affairs in that marriage. Much."

(We immediately ceased smiling and sat dumbfounded, realizing this woman was telling us about an affair she's having with a married man, while her eleven year old son played Monopoly an arm's length away.)

"I didn't cheat. I'm no cheater. I'm single. But he comes over in the afternoons, when she's not there. We're in love. We go to the travel advisor to plan an Alaska holiday, and today," she sighed, "he tells me...what is it...cold feet. He must stay with his wife. Tonight he lets me go. So I lie here," she said pointing to the couch, "Or go back there," she said, motioning to the bedroom, "and cry while these peoples have a good time."

At this point I squirmed awkwardly because this was clearly a TMI situation and there's no GD way I wanted to spend my first minutes of the New Year listening to a stranger cry about her break-up. And yes, I realize that makes me seem heartless. So I collected up our dessert plates, put them in the kitchen, and thanked our neighbour for inviting us over but told her we had to go so I could phone my family and wish them a Happy New Year. Meanwhile, Dan was still sitting on the couch (with the conversation now in Swiss German) nodding sympathetically as the woman repeatedly told him that she is not done with this love affair. She will not give up on her neighbour, she doesn't care what he or his wife thinks, because it's not over.

"I know it's not over!" she exclaimed. "I don't feel it here," she pointed to her head, "I feel it here!" as she pushed her hand into her stomach. "Ours is true love, and I feel it here!"

"Um, well," Dan paused, "it's good you can trust your gut instinct. Like how you knew about that hurricane that was going to hit Hawaii." This was in reference to her telling us she wouldn't book her holiday to Hawaii when her ex-husband wanted her to because she felt something was wrong. "Just keep believing in that," Dan generously offered as he stood up.

"Yes," she agreed. "It's not over."

But for us, it was. We shot out of there like a cork from a champagne bottle. There was something so uncomfortable about that conversation I just had to get away from it. And it's not the revelation she was having an affair with a married man, as I'm not that naive. I think it was the sheer fact that a sober Swiss woman (who's name neither of us remember) poured this story on to us, perfect strangers, when it's an unwritten rule in this country that you don't even make light conversation with your seatmate on the bus.

It was so weird.

Like everything I'd learned in 2011 about Swiss formalities and structure was being made topsy-turvy in the fresh minutes of 2012. Is this what you have in store for me, 2012? Disproving every rule I thought I had mastered about living here? And 2012, please don't be offended (afterall, I don't know what life lessons you want me to learn this year) but I'd rather read some parent's inappropriate recapping of their constipated three year old, or fight for our right to wear neon green fuzzy Kangol hats, than have a stranger cry on my shoulder about a soured affair with a married man.

Sound good to you?

(But 2012, if you want to deliver a few nut shots to that prick who led this woman on--who's not blameless, I realize--then dumped her on New Years Eve, that'd be fine.)


Anonymous said...

I will throw in my two cents and say that it was weird. Personally I don't care one bit about the background story. My senses are probably numbed by tv shows to feel shocked that this woman in front of me had an affair.

I would like to thank my wife for doing her darndest to drag me out of there ASAP.

As far as I'm concerned, my new year started with lighting our table bomb at approx. 00:50am.

happy new year all!


Caitie said...

You're welcome, Sweets ;-)