I try not to be negative. Heaven knows, it’s difficult enough to do in the best of times. Our lives are hard enough without having to deal with people lurking about just waiting to slam us. I admit it is sometimes very satisfying to cut loose and give some nasty person what for, but the satisfaction in doing so is generally short-lived. You hurt or offend someone, and there was no need.
But I can think of one or two times where it was merited and I enjoyed it.
One time that I recall, I was in Philadelphia, meeting some friends for tea at the Bellevue Hotel in their (Ethel) Barrymore room on the nineteenth floor:
|The tea room is in the windowed, lit area on the front of the photo. A wonderful view!
That was always a wonderful time – high tea (your choice of tea) perfect little sandwiches of egg salad, or smoked salmon, or date nut bread and cream cheese… Devonshire cream, jam and scones… All in a lovely atmosphere.
You entered from the ground floor, off the street. There were a couple elevators that rattled their way to the 19th floor… On the day in question, I boarded the elevator first, saw that others were coming, and put my finger on the ‘open door’ button. People got on, and one gentleman was holding the door (he thought) by leaning against it. I smiled at him and said, “I have the button!” He smiled, nodded, and boarded the elevator.
Apparently, three of the passengers (one, actually) found my comment offensive. From the first floor to the twelfth, she spoke loudly of ‘the LADY who has the BUTTON’. Very loudly.
I thought, “She’s going to say something when she leaves the elevator,” and I started thinking.
Now, a bon mot is really only ‘bon’ if you come up with it on the spur of the moment. Practice may make perfect, but it disqualifies a retort from being a bon mot. But back to the elevator.
|The Ethel Barrymore Room at the Bellevue Hotel
We reached the seventeenth floor. The door opened. The two girlfriends exited the elevator. The loud talker left after them, turned, raised her head, bared her teeth in a saccharine smile and said, “I’m so GLAD you hit the BUTTON!”
I smiled and said, with equal sweetness. “My dear. They can do SO much to help Premenstrual Syndrome – do, please, consult your gynecologist!” And I ‘hit the button’ one last time. Her saccharine smile shifted to a horrified snarl, punctuated by the sudden smirks of her friends as the doors closed.
Now, that was cheating. I never – except that one time – refer to feminine (or, come to that, masculine) issues in my repartee. It is cheating and demeaning. But that chick deserved it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
It WAS good tea that afternoon, though.