Monday, May 23, 2011

My not-friend

I'm perplexed by a woman at church. We often sit near her and her family; it seems that many of the families with young children gravitate toward the section nearest the choir, probably hopeful that the proximity to the music will both distract their restless children and drown out their voices if they get too loud. She has three boys, similar in ages to my kids, although I think her oldest is about second grade (mine is in kindergarten). I also see her at the YMCA once in a while, often as she's dropping off or picking up her youngest at the nursery while I'm doing the same.

Yesterday we sat next to her family at mass. Our kids had a little too much fun playing together (especially hers, but I'll refrain from judgmental-mom comments on her kids' usual behavior at mass), but overall nothing seemed amiss. Her husband is friendly and seems nice and we shared a few knowing glances as the volume of our kids' dinosaur roars got a little too loud, or when my daughter (she's about 20 months) started climbing on their pile of coats. But the wife - she wouldn't so much as look at me.

This isn't new. I see her at mass almost every week and we usually sit near them, and whenever I've tried to make eye contact or smile at her, she always looks away quickly. When I see her at they Y, she ignores me and you'd never know she and I have ever shaken hands and offered one another peace at mass (which has only happened once or twice, but I'll keep my paranoia to a minimum and not assume that she's avoiding that as well). I like meeting people at church, especially other moms, so I've made it a point to try to catch her eye and smile, if only to acknowledge that we go to the same church. But she never returns my smile. In fact, she looks away so quickly and so obviously, I can't help but feel that she purposefully ignores me.

Yesterday after mass, she was trying to take a quick picture of her boys, who were all dressed alike, but her youngest wasn't cooperating (he's probably about a year and a half). I was literally standing a foot away, so I stepped closer and tried to help. I made faces at her kids and got them to sit still for about .008 of a second, but I think it was enough time for her to get a picture. Still, she wouldn't so much as look in my direction.

My husband noticed it, and asked me about it later that afternoon. He jokingly asked me what I did to make her hate me so much. I laughed, but honestly, I'm baffled. I have no idea if I could have done something to make her not like me. I can't imagine what it could have been.

It's very likely that she doesn't think anything in particular about me and I'm making this up in my head (although in my defense, my husband noticed too!) At this point, I'm chosing to believe that she's shy and maybe a little socially awkward and that comes across as being standoffish. She's plenty friendly with two or three other families who often sit near as well, but perhaps she knows them well and is more comfortable.

I'm not hurt or offended at her behavior; rather, I'm confused and wonder if there's something I'm missing. I don't want to reach out to her and try to be friendly if she's not interested. But I'll be honest, I'm not used to not being liked. I don't mean that I'm such an amazing gal that everyone loves me; quite the contrary, I have plenty of faults and I'm sure there are things about me that others find annoying. I'm not friends with everyone I've ever met. But generally speaking, I'm friendly and most people receive that well. This woman won't so much as look in my direction. It's just... odd.

For now I guess I'll be as friendly as any situation warrants. But I'm morbidly curious to find out what this woman finds so distasteful about me; or if she's just shy and has a hard time around people she doesn't know. Perhaps time will tell.

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