I know it sounds like something you say when a relationship is over. You want to be friends with someone and mostly it’s mutual. Except for this one time when it wasn’t.
W. M. lives in my apartment block. Our first contact was way back when a situation in the building arose, and she had to speak to me about it. She was articulate, humorous and intelligent: I liked W. M. immediately. After running into her in the elevator, the laundry room and the storage areas often over the course of a year and a half, I decided to take the plunge.
It was 2007. The month before, a friend at work had invited me to his place for a dinner party. So it popped into my head to invite him over along with W. M. and three other people. It went well until we moved into the living and sat drinking coffee. One of my friends – he was always cracking jokes – said something funny, and it made me splutter. Coffee spray landed in an elegant arc on W. M.
After a stunned silence, I fetched a damp cloth and some towels to mop up both the woman and her immediate vicinity. I apologized profusely, feeling horrified and just plain stupid. She left shortly afterwards to change and then leave to meet a friend (she told me about it when she accepted my dinner invitation). The next day she slipped a gracious thank you note through the mail slot.
I let some time lapse before making another stab at the friendship connection. No dice. In the years following, she was always friendly and asked how I was doing, taking the time to chat for a few minutes. We’ve even been a few walks on the seawall. But nothing more substantial happened.
This past week, an apartment block related thing came up. So, yesterday I asked W. M. about how to implement the new rules effective April 1st. She was helpful, humorous and articulate. But for some reason, during the course of this conversation, it occurred to me that maybe you just still can’t be friends with a social blundering coffee sprayer.
I also realized that I needed to let go of the hope that someday W. M. will change her mind.