"Morning!" I said, cheerfully and at the same time edging back up to my front door because pajamas, being an introvert, Niklas Lidstrom might wake up and start barking...pick one, any reason would do.
As I picked up my paper, he reached down and got his in his driveway and held it out to me.
"Oh, no thanks," I said, "Got my own right here. (Polite refusal number one.)
"Do you want a paper?" he asked.
"Thanks, but I've got this one." (Polite refusal number two, while really starting to wonder if he's kidding.)
"Here's the paper," he said as he crossed the street to hand it to me.
"Thank you. No. I have the paper from my own driveway." I started to walk back to my house. (Still counting? That polite, but firm refusal number three.)
"You don't want this paper?"
"No. Thank you. I have a paper." (Refusal number four.)
"Well, he said, you could throw it away, then."
He walked to the end of my driveway and held out the paper. At that point, I just looked at him. He started to drop it into my trash bin. We have a rule in my burb that all trash has to be bagged or it will be refused. I know that paper would end up a sodden mess in the bottom of my almost too tall for me bin or it would b e thrown down in my driveway.
"My bags are already closed."
He didn't seem to want to open up my garbage bag to add his paper and turned and walked back to his house.
I went into the house, confused and a little irritated by the exchange. One of my close guyfriends, Dale was waiting to chat online. I told him what happened.
"That's why you're single," he was kidding. I hope.
"I thought it was because all of male friends are gay."
As we discussed the situation, it started to make sense. He knew I had a paper and he really wasn't trying to give me reading matter. I was supposed to pick up his nonverbal cue that it was my place to dispose of his paper. And my repeated refusals? They didn't count because keeping sweet meant I was supposed to do as he asked. In the way of the world in Nashville, Tennessee, he was entitled. Moving in a world that is almost completely peopled by artists and writers, I had forgotten how the rest of society thinks.
I didn't say this to Dale, but it also gave me an idea of what pretty women go through. No matter how many times I said no, my neighbor felt entitled to me knowing what he wanted and giving it to him. Who hasn't heard an attractive friend -of either gender, really- talk about encounter with people who behaved like they were owed attention? While this situation was nowhere as intense as the demands for romantic connection that some of my friends have dealt with, I have to say I now understand it beyond the level of abstract concept.
So I failed at keeping sweet and throwing away his paper for him, not out of cussedness, but because I missed the cues. Even if I had understood what was going on, I still would have done to the same thing. To steal a turn of phrase from The Georgia Satellites:
Don't hand me no trash and keep your cues to yourself!
copyright 2015 Jas Faulkner and Zen Dixie