Thursday, 6 October 2016

Church lady

Younger daughter and I were seated in the second row, centre at a downtown church when the lady approached us. She had been handing out programmes for the noonday concert at the door we didn't use.

"If you move to the left side," she pointed out, "You'll get a better view of the pianist's hands."

I thanked her, explaining that neither of us play piano, and, as the pianist we were about to hear is sometimes younger daughter's accompanist, we preferred to see her face anyway. The woman nodded absently.
"Well, thanks for coming."

We were actually there at elder daughter's recommendation, as our pianist was working temporarily at the small but influential arts organization where elder daughter is a communications and marketing specialist. Elder daughter soon joined us with a few of her workmates, who whistled and cheered appreciatively at the appropriate breaks in a programme that included Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and a twentieth century Argentinian composer who reminded me of Gershwin.

Tea, coffee and cookies were on offer after the recital, so I dropped twenty dollars in the donation tin and suggested younger daughter get herself some refreshments.

The lady who had suggested the seat change was on duty behind the table.

"What would you like?" she asked as younger daughter hesitated.

"Uuuuuuh....tea, please."

The lady poured it out briskly and younger daughter paused uncertainly, possibly because she wasn't sure about juggling a paper cup with cream and sugar.

"Is there something wrong?" the lady inquired, rather sharply. She had rather a schoolmarmish quality.

"No, no," said younger daughter hastily. "There's nothing wrong..."

"Are you confused?"

This is the point when a mother of someone on the spectrum has to swallow her impulses and not murder church ladies, many of whom are volunteers, after all.

"There's some milk and sugar here," I informed younger daughter, while I stepped to the side of the table, so I could face my daughter but take myself out of the line-up.

It didn't quite work.

"And what are you having?" asked church lady.

"Me? Oh, nothing, thank-you."

"Then perhaps you can move elsewhere to make room."

I've had a lifetime of dealing with church ladies and can schoolmarm with the best of them. Keeping my voice level and calm, I looked at her pointedly.

"If you'll excuse me, I need to finish assisting my daughter."

I didn't hear another word. Elder daughter tells me I can be terrifying, but I think that's more in the case of young men who are surprisingly easy to intimidate, often with not much more than a brief glance and a short sentence. Church lady was damned lucky Demeter wasn't there.

Back at our table, we were soon joined by elder daughter's friends, who were giggling about the "snack lady". Apparently she had been somewhat waspish with them as well, which is a comfort, albeit a small one.

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