Time for Winner

One of my former girlfriends, Paula, was an excellent conversationalist and a real boon at dinner parties. This tale is for her.

You always dreaded going to a dinner party with me. In the golden period you could not get enough of them. You marvelled at how engaging my friends were, how welcome they made you feel and you delighted in the range and standard of cuisine. Your knowledge of wine is pretty extensive and people regularly sought out your opinion of the selection they had bought. They even began to call you beforehand to seek recommendations and of course you were always happy to help. I of course enjoyed parading you as my new acquisition amongst my friends and at formal dinners associated with work.
It did not take long however for your informative opinions about wine to begin to annoy me. How I hated that the spotlight lingered on you for so long as people asked you questions and listened attentively to your opinions. My attempts at talking about my accomplishments took a back-seat to you and your wine tasting show. I barely kept my rage in check. How dare you hog their attention in this manner, they were my friends, not yours. The fury boiled away beneath the surface as all faces turned towards you leaving me stranded at the head of the table. Of course, I could not let this behaviour go unchallenged. Initially, I suggested, after dinner in the taxi home that you might want to lessen the amount of time you spoke about one of your favourite topics.
“I know everyone seems to be paying you attention, ” I would explain, “but they are just being polite. I did hear Christine comment that you seemed something of the know-it-all about wine. Perhaps you should tone it down for next time.”
You look surprised (not least because Christine said quite the contrary but I knew you disliked confrontation and would not challenge her about her supposed remark) but eager to please you apologised and said you had not realised you had held the floor for such a long time.
After that I continued to chip away with my remarks before we attended a dinner party (even though you had not long been off the phone to the host who had called to ask for your advice) in order to diminish your confidence.
“But John just called me and sought my advice about the rioja,” you declared.
“I know but that is purely to please me darling, he wants work from me and thinks he can curry favour by speaking to you and seeking your views.”
“Oh” was all you can muster to my further lie.
I would caution you each time against hogging the limelight and remind you that other people had opinions they might like to share as well. I would theatrically cough when I regarded you as talking for too long and you would hastily end your appraisal of the Chablis.
The next dinner party when somebody poured the wine into your glass first and asked you to take the group through what you tasted, you glanced at me. I sat smiling but my glare was cold and unmistakable. You sipped the wine and declared,
“It is very good, very fruity,” and said no more. You looked back to me and I gave you my nod of approval at how you were learning.
Once I had reduced your wine observations to the occasional sentence I would move on to actively putting you down with back-handed compliments and insinuated remarks. Few of those attending seemed to notice but I knew you did from the reddening of the skin on your chest and neck as embarrassment flushed across you. I would accuse you of flirting with other male guests even when you were just making your usual polite and charming conversation. Like slicing a salami, I cut away at you, eroding your confidence and demeaning you steadily and effectively until you began to feign illness to avoid attending dinner parties. Of course I would not let that happen as I wanted you, my beautiful girlfriend on my arm, since appearances had to be maintained and besides, how else might I continue my campaign of belittlement without being in the glare of that powerful spotlight?
Your recalcitrance increased until you would sit barely speaking which resulted in me giving you a dressing down once we reached home. That was a night you would not forget. After that I decided that you were of no more use to me at dinner parties, I could not have my brilliant anecdotes undermined by someone who never said much and rarely laughed. Kathryn was invited to the next dinner party instead.

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10 thoughts on “Time for Winner”

  1. See, this is why I hate dinner at the table of my mother the narcissist. If I tell a funny story, she says I’m talking too much; if I eat dessert, she says “leave some for everyone else”; if I say nothing, she accuses me of ignoring her guests.

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  2. Poor Paula….I know how she felt…..

    This triggers a memory with N1. When had become an item once again after a 17 year silent treatment (yes-you read that right-17 YEARS)….thanks to the miracle of Facebook and a trip to NYC where he settled as an artist when we were so very young…..

    N1 had become very controlling in his 40’s. Once I got back home to Cali….he had many rules he expected me to follow. One was being able to speak with him nightly at 8pmPST-my time (11pmEST-his time). Rule two was he didn’t like me doing any social activities where I might meet men.

    I live in Central California. We are the home of California wines and wineries. My girlfriends and I planned a luxury bus wine tour for a Saturday, and when I told N1 I was going, he got very jealous that we would meet men on this trip. He asked me to take a photo before we left and send it to him. He then refused to reply to any texts after that. We had a great time! We learned so much about wine and met nice people and marveled at the beauty of the vineyards of our home state!

    When I got home that evening….N1 phoned. He was furious that In the photo I sent him before the trip showed that I had my hair styled and wore a new dress. He was sure that we girls had all hooked up with men on that luxury wine tour bus, and that I was going to dump him?!

    My heart sank….my friends and I had such a lovely time that day….relaxing…laughing…we had a blast. I bought lots of CA. wine to send to him in NYC….and I couldn’t wait to get home that night to tell him all about it.
    …….and all he did was accuse me of being deceitful and disloyal to him….
    This broke my heart…..I wanted to end the relationship the next morning….but I didn’t. I felt perhaps I should have waited until he came out to visit me so he and I could visit the wineries….

    He called the next morning to “apologize”. ‘Please forgive me, T….I just got crazy at the thought of you being the prettiest girl on that bus….I don’t want to lose you again.’

    I was sure this was my fault. I didn’t need to look beautiful for anyone but him…*smh*.

    I forgave him for that verbal abuse….and stayed.

    Always follow your intuition, Ladies….
    This “enlightened, feminist, beta, ultra liberal”
    NYC artist behaved like any garden variety abusive misogynist N from the sticks….

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  3. Ok. I felt flooded with a full range of emotion reading this. First, as soon as I read the title, I felt a half grin edging up one corner of my mouth in amusement at the clever play on words. And the utter arrogance of it gave me the shudders! But, getting into the story further just saddened and made me feel triggered. I WAS that woman flushing red and feeling so uncomfortable while taking hits from the N in places like dinner parties where everyone is trying to enjoy and relax. It was easy to take notice of people’s awkward glances away from me as I squirmed in discomfort.

    Truth or tale HG?

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  4. Coffee + HG blog+ Sofa + one of my kids besides if awake is the perfect way to start morning 😃 With this perfectly redacted story. After reading each post as its written in a way that evokes memories and emotions ( only very few writerd have this skill and was the reason to keep on reading the day I discovered this blog, I was just Wow), I take time to think back and ☕️.
    Every person in a relationship with an N can recall many of the scenes above, the flirting accusations, which come nevertheless no stealing of limelight. I love to be with lots of people but I am a one to one person so there was never this stealing of limelight. Nevertheless always a comment comes up in the salami way but anyway that is known and common so its not that what stays on my mind.
    Like yesterdays post brought to my mind my ex sister in law, this one brings to my mind a friend of my father who once made a comment I never forgot. Maybe because He made it and I was in the middle of my marriage wondering what is my role as wife..
    He is a very very dominant person, extremely wealthy so when he spoke everybody listened and what he said was.
    ” I need a woman besides me who has her mouth shut and remains besides me with a nice smile” and he really meant it because this happened after one of his breakups.. Mysterious man..He finally found a wife on his same social level and at least 30 years younger Than him.
    I still wonder..

    HG is this really what an N desires as company for family, business and friends ? Or is this just for Ns that come from a macho country? 😂😂
    Thanks for posting BBE … Its excellent as I stated above. Enjoy they day and fuel your day 😘😘😘

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