Today a woman I’ll call Ardeth (I actually love this name) came into a conversation I was having with a friend. And I find people like Ardeth fascinating. She’s beautiful, very clever and at least superficially bold. Maybe you could even describe someone like her as a little narcissistic and therefore a bit of a lost person. But, regardless, she’s fascinating in a human way.
Ardeth grew up in rural South Dakota. Her parents had a farm. They were middle-class. Then she attended a state university where she met her husband. They moved to Minneapolis and he finished his residency at a nationally renowned hospital there. He’s now starting his medical career.
In her free time Ardeth likes to cook. That’s how one of my friends met her. They are in a cooking class together.
…But…apparently Ardeth is…challenging.
She works as a paralegal. And combined with her husband’s salary you’d think they were financially secure, but apparently they both took out a lot of student loans and they’ve seemingly decided to buy the largest house and the newest car they can buy. And, her husband is just starting his career… So, after the cooking lessons are over Ardeth often will stand around and “discuss” things with the other students but she often claims to be too “broke” to buy anything extra she might be interested in at the store.
Nobody openly looks down on her (at least to my friend’s knowledge). However, my friend suspects that Ardeth feels insecure because more than once she’s made these forcefully cheerful comments, calling my friend, “The new Martha Stewart!” and “So cute.” They sound like compliments but the tone is off and my friend has started to try to avoid her, which has made it worse as Ardeth is now making peculiar comments during the actual lessons. And she’s just invited the whole class to her house.
…My friend doesn’t want to go. Really doesn’t want to go. I told her not to, but we both know that that could be bad.
The thing is, Ardeth shouldn’t be so uncomfortable. Really. But we suspect that there’s not much my friend can do.
“Oh, I love your shoes!” she said to my friend about her new Gucci sandals in a very loud voice in front of everyone. They all stopped and stared. “So chic.” and at that she plastered on a bizarrely smug and yet giddy smile.
“You have such good taste in pastries.” my friend said sincerely (my friend is very sweet) one day after a lesson, as Ardeth had made a beautiful eclair. However, “What do you mean?” was Ardeth’s response stated fear instead of self confidence. And, it was intriguing… It’s when my friend knew those other compliments from Ardeth were most definitely not meant in the right way.
“She’s so damn annoying.” said my friend today in exasperation. “She knows I’m too nice so she’s fixated on me.” I nod and suggest again that my friend avoid her party.
…But it is curious. I often wonder why people like Ardeth feel such a need to dominate and hurt vulnerable things and people when they themselves are so seemingly vulnerable too. Or, at least, why they don’t just be quiet. All dear Ardeth would have to do is show up, tell people her husband is a doctor and that she works for a lawyer and then be nice and drive away in her new Mercedes…and no one would be the wiser about her reasons for insecurity. I saw people pull that social trick off where I grew up all the time. Or, at least, I think I did…
“The problem is, everyone always figures stuff out.” says my friend. “Some people are needlessly insecure, but then there are others who have reasons to be. I think she’s just terrified that if she shuts-up everyone else will start talking.” And then it does hit me that my friend already knows a lot about Ardeth indeed… *rolling my eyes at my foolishness*
More on this saga later.