Right after I wrote about this pair of shadow people who kept cropping up (my mom even asked about them, for Pete’s Sake!), I ran into a few more. One is kind of an odd and I’m surprised I was able to even match her face to her story…
The boys and I were in Target Friday and this mother and her 2 children walked past us. I briefly made eye contact with the mom and felt like we recognized each other but I wasn’t immediately sure why. We both kept up our brisk pace, flying past each other. It didn’t take long, however, to realize I had met her at a birthday party a few years back. It was a hot and sweaty August evening and the hostess thought we should meet each other because we both taught English.
This woman had finished her doctorate at Cambridge and taught in England for a while before deciding that she needed to return to America. As she told me her story she kept putting down the American university system (she’s an American) and had to keep reminding me that Cambridge was in England, you know. This is how she did it, I’m sure, thinking that she wasn’t being so obvious! She would reference Cambridge–take a dramatic pause–, England. She also had to tell me (a fellow academic) that Cambridge had its own press–Really? I had no idea! [cover mouth with hand, staring wide-eyed] You see, I just studied in America–the standards are so low here and I have had such an impoverished education. Slouchy posture; Cue violins. She also had to tell me that at Cambridge…in England, PhDs had to publish not like in America where you do just a dissertation. I can count the ways in which she could’ve handled this conversation so much better while still allowing herself to brag.
At first, I was really surprised she was so condescending, considering she allegedly chose to leave a position in England to come back here. Then I kind of thought she was funny because she went on and on in a kind of Monty Python sort of way (although she was totally serious). Then I felt I had won the consolation prize because I felt really trapped by her chatter–it was a hot and over-crowded outdoor party. Even the woman sitting next to me was beginning to become a little frantic–we were all eating dinner and there really wasn’t a way to escape. I had just met the woman next to me as well, but I couldn’t look at her for fear of bursting into laughter. Especially after the 5th or 6th time Ms. Cambridge secretively said, “Cambridge…England.”
I know the hostess meant well because she knew I was considering a return to teaching now that my children are in school full-time. She honestly thought this woman would have some insights on the market as well as teaching online. Sadly, this woman was very negative about everything except when the conversation managed to return to jolly, old Cambridge…England. That is until one of her children needed her and she dramatically indicated to the 2 of us that she needed to be excused. I think she expected some big send-away because she made a dramatic hand gesture and made sure that we both verbally acknowledged her departure.