We had invited several friends over for Thanksgiving, something we do every year if we plan to be home and cooking anything. This year we had 8 guests, a mixture of running friends and others from our life.
Whenever we host, we try really hard to accommodate everyone’s tastes and particular dietary needs. I’ve had vegans, vegetarians, and severe food allergies as house guests simultaneously for weeks at a time, so I have learned a few things about food prep for diversity. At the time we extended invitations to our friends, we made it clear that we are not traditional Thanksgiving folks (neither M nor I are big on turkey and all the traditional side dishes that accompany it) and provided a planned menu. Both of us took great pains to ask if there were any food allergies or special dietary needs to consider, because we truly do want people to feel welcome and at home in our home.
While I was in the kitchen doing final preparation on Thursday a couple of M’s lady runner friends were chatting and catching up with me. Over the course of the conversation we got to my recent exercise habits and one of them asked me about my goal. I shrugged and said I didn’t really have one, but I am enjoying the experience of learning resistance training and was making progress. That said, these are aspiring ultra marathon runners and their definition of fitness is different, something I had a difficult time understanding for too many years to count. These days I simply accept it yet another example of diversity and differences of opinion. But the discussion then turn to weight loss, and since I really do not use that anymore as a measure of progress, I could clearly see the judgment in one particular woman’s eyes that I am unserious about exercise and my overall health. The fact that I could care less what she thinks about me and my health/fitness habits probably confirms her opinion. Oh well.
M was running with her and others in a group on Friday and she thanked him again for inviting them (she and her boyfriend) for dinner. Later that night she apparently went on a drunken rant on Facebook that totally trashed the food we served and said unkind things about me. M and I did not see it, but enough mutual friends and running group members who know both of us did and apparently piled on in our defense. It was apparently quite a spirited discussion.
In this case, ignorance would be bliss. By Saturday morning her mean posts had been deleted, but unfortunately they had been read and commented upon by so many people we know. Throughout Saturday and into this morning there was much discussion from all corners of the world and great unrest in M’s Facebook universe.
People do love drama, don’t they?
One of M’s closest running buddies took issue with that woman calling me fat (direct quote from one of her FB posts: his fat wife has no idea how to feed runners). R is a really good person and one of my favorites, so I know her heart was in the right place. She had saved the posts and comments as they appeared and sent them to M with an explanation and apology for stirring the pot, but she felt he should know and see for himself exactly what was said.
M is quite upset and conflicted about all this. As he puts it, she can trash our meal from here to eternity and the worst that will happen is we will never invite her back. But to say mean things in public about his wife is social suicide in his book.
As for me, I am not upset about what she said so much as that she has put M in an awkward position. The woman has never struck me as very authentic or genuine in our interactions, but I did not perceive her as completely stupid. To post such an acidic diatribe on Facebook when M and zillions of other runner people friends are reading regularly? Maybe that was the point, to dump M as a mentor and training coach rather than being a grown-up and telling him directly? While I was not particularly fond of her, as long as M liked her and liked working with her I could be tolerant, friendly, welcoming. We both have friends and acquaintances the other is perplexed by to some major or minor degree, but whatever; our lack of enthusiasm for the other’s pals does not impact us or our relationship.
Until now, anyway. And it is really a peripheral thing, in that M will not work with her or help her any further nor will he take steps to oust her from his social running groups. But he won’t be comfortable around her, and unless she fades away he will have to adjust his habits and the events he chooses to participate in with the rest of his group.
This whole situation got me thinking about the word fat. M still cannot believe she went there because it is such a loaded term, almost as bad as slinging racial epithets . Perhaps it is not the reaction she was seeking – loads of our friends coming forth to defend me so strongly – but there was an intense reaction all the same.
In truth I feel a little sorry for her. She obviously has no concept of what it means to be gracious and diplomatic. However, if she could muster a genuine apology I would accept it and ask M to forgive as well, because she’s one mean-spirited person that I only have to see or be around a couple of times per year. I would not seek her out or even marginally trust her again, of course, but it would smooth the deepest fissures in M’s social pack.
I am actually a little amused that she called me fat and suggested I have no idea how to feed runners. This from a person who was downing tequila shots and shooting her mouth off on Facebook? Taking her and her opinions seriously before was difficult, but after this demonstration of no common sense, she has been disqualified from anything more than the bare bones courtesy I would extend to a complete stranger.