When Push Comes To Shove

2011 August 20

You may have noticed there have been more stories (I call ’em flash fiction because that’s about the length of my attention span) on the blog in recent months. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Maybe these stories will all come together in a cohesive end product or maybe only a few of them will, but there’s definitely something percolating.

I am pushy.

Not the kind of pushy that shoves ahead of you in line at the supermarket or takes your parking space or heckles wait staff or demands attention from everyone. No, I am the kind of pushy that looks for an opening, waits for the door to swing back just a crack and then barges right in. I tell myself that if people wanted to keep me out of their messes, they would have been more diligent with the locks. So, if I am here, hunched over your kitchen table, sweeping the crumbs to the floor, peppering you with questions, mapping out a game plan, it’s because you wanted this. You wanted me here. Maybe you’re trying to ignore me. Maybe you’re sulking in the corner or making tea or trying to explain in an increasingly less-calm tone of voice about how this is terrible timing and you really can’t deal with this right now and maybe we can reschedule? Nope, no cancellations, no refunds. You asked (even if you can’t remember doing so), I answered. Now you’re stuck with me. I don’t take up much space, I promise.

I start with questions. Well, sometimes, if you’re very nervous about this whole thing, I start with stories. I tell you something that makes you feel as if neither of us are crazy or that we’ve known each other for a very long time. And then, I get to work with the questions. I’m pretty good at this by now and I know that if I want to find out X, it probably works better to ask about Y. There are no right answers. There are answers that I like to hear because they’ll make my job easier, but I am just as interested in the harder answers or when you can’t come up with a response at all.

This is a delicate business, such a delicate business. There is a difference between pushing you on a swing set and pushing you off a cliff, you know? I’ve gotten better at knowing the difference, but I still make mistakes.  You seem ready. I think we have a rapport. Just one more little shove. But it’s one little shove too far. It’s over then. We both know it. In theory, there should be some way to patch things back together, but I haven’t found it yet. It’s not as simple as undoing your last move and the one before that and so on until we get back to okay and I can try a different tactic. No, the damage is done.  I always regret those cases, but I try not to be too hard on myself. I pushed because that’s what I do.  And I pushed because I thought you needed it and deep down that you wanted it and maybe you did, but it just wasn’t a push in the right direction or at the right time or from the right person (that part, I’m not so good at accepting yet). I try to clean up after myself as best I can and as quickly as possible. Scoop up all of my papers, stuff all of my ideas back into my bag, take my jacket and thank you for your time. That wasn’t so bad, was it? I ask. I don’t make excuses and I don’t let you make any either. No refunds, remember?

But those cases are getting rarer. My instinct for picking winners is improving all the time.


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