Home > Random Musings > How to Survive an Encounter with an Overwhelming Acquaintance

How to Survive an Encounter with an Overwhelming Acquaintance


The following account was inspired by real, somewhat fictionalized events. While originally written a while back, the content has been updated to reflect new bits of Crazy. Any resemblance to actual people might, indeed, be true. But for legal purposes, most assuredly, is not.

It never fails. The one time you go out grocery shopping wearing sweatpants/yoga pants, with your hair a mess, and yesterday’s makeup on – you run into an old acquaintance. Guy or girl – it doesn’t really matter.

There you are, in the frozen foods aisle, clutching what is possibly the most unhealthy instant food known to man (some form of pot pie made with lard and baby pandas), and the Acquaintance approaches. She resembled the Jabberwocky crossed with Bellatrix Lestrange (confession: I initially wrote Beatrice. Maybe I have the Inferno on the brain?). Evil laughter echoes softly in the distance.

You’re trapped. There’s nothing to hide behind, because the aisle’s layout has left you out in the open. You are easy prey for this person you vaguely remember. Maybe you knew her (hello, gender bias) from school, an old job, or the gym. She isn’t Hitler (and it isn’t springtime), but she’s not Mary Sunshine, either. You stifle the urge to bolt, and you smile. She smiles.

And then she pounces on you like a mountain lion. You can almost feel your soul ripping in half, while she shrieks with disproportionate glee, and starts updating you about her life – at Warp Speed. (If only you could remove her dilithium crystals, all would be well.)

As she’s yapping, you recall, acutely, why you two never hung out in the first place. You don’t really know much about each other. You once were vaguely associated because of circumstances. But she wants to be your BEST FRIEND, like OHMYGOD, and she knows next to nothing about you. (Not that she has yet, in her ten minute Diatribe of DOOM, stopped to ask – hey, how are you?)

You smile, again, desperately trying to conjure up an exit strategy. Short of throwing the Unhealthy Meal at her, and running for the hills, there is none. Still, you briefly consider doing just that, but then remember how delicious those calories will taste for dinner (along with the wine you will undoubtedly need to wash away the memory of this encounter). And you really must help keep the Baby Panda population in check. Your civic duty and all that.

A decade and a half later, she is still talking. She’s sharing every intimate detail of her life with you, since you last saw each other three years ago. At this point, you know that her husband has a vasectomy, that he bought her a pair of Uggs for Christmas, and that she doesn’t really find him attractive. Then she tell you how many centimeters she was dilated when she arrived at the hospital to give birth to her first Mini Monster – and the subsequent three children that followed. You file this away to share with your therapist. You also note that you’re NEVER having children, because Sweet Mother of Coffee, the human body should not expel a watermelon…or tear. (Pause. Cringe. Move on.)

At some point, the She Monster decides that you two should exchange BFF bracelets, wear matching outfits to the Sock Hop, and have a pillow fight while wearing only underwear. (Let me perpetuate that stereotype for fun.)

Or, barring that, HAVE LUNCH. But only on the third Thursday of the month, because her life is so crazy and that’s the only day she’s free.

You smile and open your mouth to explain that you are busy EVERY third Thursday, because you have to get your liver removed. Every month. Like Prometheus. But you don’t get the chance. The HALF A SECOND it took you to open your mouth just gave her time to breathe.

And the next thing you know, she’s shoving her business card (with her cell number, home number, beeper number, email, house line, fax line, and address written on the back) at you. I know what you are thinking: who the HELL has a beeper anymore? Aside from the year 1998 and drug dealers. You smile (somewhat nervously) and REALLY hope it’s not the latter.

She then asks for your cell phone number. And you totally, internally PANIC. Because she seems like the type of person to call you seventy times a day, at all hours of the day, to ask your opinion about paint swatches or the shelf life of Mallomars.

You stall for the three seconds you can manage by pretending to cough. She is staring at you, half frothing at the mouth and half doe-eyed, nearly in tears as if you have just savagely eaten a baby panda in front of her – while simultaneous clubbing a baby seal.

You have two choices and not a lot of time to choose. You can either relinquish your cell number (and possibly whatever bit of peace you have in your life), or tell her one of the following things: 

  1. I don’t have a cell phone. (If your cell phone is visible, this will be a problem. Try option two.) Then pretend like you’re anti-technology, even if you have a purse with an Apple Mac sticker on it.
  2. I am changing cell phone numbers/carriers at the moment, so I’ll call you when I get my new number.
  3. No hablo ingles. Lo siento.
  4. Here’s my number – and give her the WRONG number.

This then will go one of two ways. Like a choose-your-own-adventure book (should there be hyphens there? I can’t think), it will either end well (you will escape, relatively unharmed with a fantastic story to tell everyone you’ve ever met – or pull a Barney Stintson and BLOG about it. Lemon Law, anyone?)…or you will DIE. Figuratively, of course.

An Overwhelming Acquaintance can be, well, overwhelming. If a particularly vicious one gets her tentacles around your life, it’s difficult to disentangle without repercussions, extensive drama, moving, or changing your cell phone number. Twice. Oh, and hiding yourself on Facebook.

So, when deciding what to do in that Three Second Window, choose wisely. Otherwise, you will end up like THIS guy:

  1. February 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I just pretend to not see them or hear them. Shamelessly. Now that I think about it… this explains a lot.

    • Ali
      February 24, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Hmm, that might be a viable tactic. *grin*

  2. February 26, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more… This is awesome! You almost made me spill my coffee!

    • Ali
      February 27, 2011 at 9:55 am

      I’m very glad that this made you laugh!! 🙂 But whatever you do, don’t spill the coffee! *grin*

  3. February 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Great post, It’s so funny

    • Ali
      February 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Thank you very much!

  4. February 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    HURRAY for Harry Potter references! Whenever these situations happen for me, it’s never the cling-on I run into but the biotch from high school that I still feel the need to try to impress for absolutely no reason at all. And yes, it always happens when I look like I just crawled out of a gutter. BUT, even that is better than the time I ran into my (male) middle school teacher at the grocery store while I was carrying the world’s largest pack of maxi pads. Now THAT was embarrassing. 🙂

    • Ali
      February 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

      Oh, god. I HATE running into That Chick from High School. It’s evil, and there’s a little bit of Revertigo involved. Suddenly, old habits creep out of the woodwork, and it’s uncomfortable.

      The maxi pad comment nearly made me spit coffee! One of my professors told a story, once — about running into a current student while at the mall…after just have emerged from Victoria’s Secret, bag in hand. Too freakin’ funny..

  5. February 27, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Sometimes I can get away with a pasted-on smile and some vacant “uh-huhs” to convince them I am the most boring person on earth and cannot give them nearly the ATTENTION THEY SO RICHLY DESERVE. If they are still enthusiastic, I am so very ambiguous as to whether I have a phone and can be called and won’t be busy and might still be breathing in a day or two, that sooner or later they wave good-bye.

    • Ali
      February 27, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Vacant uh-huhs can work wonders! *grin* Thanks for reading and commenting, Gayle!!

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