04 September 2007

I Enjoy Depending on Others

It's amazing how fast one's (or my, not to generalize) ability to do things or solve problems oneself deteriorates when other people are around to do the doing/solving for you.

This phenomenon had been limited to my visits to family, where I become accustomed to eating healthy and gourmet meals to which my contributions are 1. setting the table, and 2. sitting on a spinny stool at the kitchen island drinking margaritas, so that I go through a readjustment period when I get back to my apartment of sullen and half-assed meal-planning and grocery shopping (i.e., buying three different varieties of turkey cold cuts and no bread, necessitating "chef's salad" lunches that involve a lot of chopping and remembering to pack or scavenging for a fork). Or, visiting my brother and his partner, being fed an excellent dinner, then dropped off at and picked up after a rock show, or having an awesomely intellectual Spring Break Miami at foreign films and art installations, none of which I had to find out about on my own and during which (the Spring Break, not the art installations) they insist on my taking the only bed. Or, in the case of my sister and brother-in-law, going camping, where "going camping" translates roughly into "pointing at various items in the garage while they're efficiently loading the car and asking, 'Do we need this?', then being bundled in outdoor gear and driven to the campsite, where I fiddle around with the box that food stays in and bears can't open while they (my sister and her husband, not the bears) set up the tent. Before you read further, I urge you to note from that last link that BearSaver.com is "Your first choice in quality Bear-Resistant Commercial Containers & Bear-Resistant Dumpsters." And whimsical capitalization, it would seem.

Back to the issue at hand, however: now, my simple problem-solving skills are declining to an alarming and possibly irrecoverable degree, for which I blame my fabulous friend Shamsi and my excellent boyfriend.

Shamsi and I travel together to a conference every year (you may recall that I contracted Legionnaires' disease or similar there in 2006), and at the most recent, she solved my problems so seamlessly that I almost didn't have time to moan about them before they were fixed. I whined about my shoes hurting and being too hungry and sleepy to walk back to the hotel and change them; she handed me some turkey jerky to gnaw on, then presented me with the choice of A. sitting on the conference patio, after which I would still be sleepy until the afternoon coffee break and my feet would still hurt, or B. taking a pleasant 10-minute walk that will take us to both a cafe and the hotel. She even anticipated my next complaint by suggesting I put my fancy shoes in the free conference bag for carrying. She also let me pretend her very cute purse was mine all week, because I perennially forget to shop for a moderately-sized, professional-looking bag to bring to conferences (but since then I've bought one).

My excellent boyfriend, in addition to making unflattering finger-puppets of people I dislike, showering me with toy otters and gummy candy, and proving a successful convert to both Rome and Veronica Mars, has conversations with me that go something like this:
Him: Can I get you anything?
Me: No, I'm fine.
Him: Are you sure? I'm getting up anyway. Do you want another beer?
Me: No, thanks.
Him: Did you get some stuff to eat?
Me: I had some of the snacks -- I'm waiting for the burgers to be ready.
Him: Do you want some water?
Me: Ooh, yes, actually!
But because of treatment like this, I once got my hands sticky after negotiating a breakfast buffet line and was ruefully preoccupied with it for a full ten minutes before noticing that spare napkins, which could be dipped in water and used to remove the syrup without even looking for the bathroom, were available slightly beyond and to the right of my plate. I only noticed the napkin dispenser was at the table when I mentioned the problem and he cast about briefly for a solution before pulling out a napkin and handing it to me.

It's questionable whether they do this because they're super-nice, caring people, or because it's super annoying to listen to me cursing the darkness. Either way, it's pretty awesome.