Friday, April 13, 2018


There's a member of the Happy Ladies Club who annoys everyone she meets.

That's a real accomplishment.  There are upwards of 400 females in the group.  One would think that some of them would be her kind of person.  One would think that there would be a few women who found her charming, interesting, enjoyable, worth knowing.  So far, I haven't encountered any of them.

What I have found is members consciously avoiding the table she's chosen, looking askance when the only available seat is beside her, refusing to participate in events she's organizing. People roll their eyes as she approaches.

She's antagonistic.  She's moved from snarky to nasty.  She's right, always, without exception, and she has no qualms about correcting those with whom she disagrees.  It's her way or the highway.... and her way is no fun at all.  She's not physically repulsive, but her persona is such that it feels like she smells.

She was less unpleasant this afternoon, quieter, less responsive to random comments which typically led to rants.  After she left, we wondered about it.

Was she ill?  She hadn't mentioned it, and she's not one to hide her trials under a basket.  Had something terrible happened?  No one knew of any disasters in her life and, again, past experience led us to believe that we would have heard the whole sordid story if she had one to tell.  Was she worried about upcoming events?  We inquired about those we knew of, and she was silent.

The conversation turned to her, somewhat naturally since she left in the middle of a game.  Was she ill?  Was she angry?  Where was she?  She never said goodbye; she just departed.  Though the organizers knew in advance that she'd be leaving early, the rest of us were left to wonder until we were informed by our leader that she, at least, knew of the early departure.  The game went on, but we were still flummoxed.

We are not nasty women.  We are The Happy Ladies Club.  We're all about making connections, about learning new things from new people, about being inclusive and welcoming.  It's hard when someone is perceived as toxic by virtually everyone she encounters.  What do we say?

We comfort those she's abused, but then we have to explain the abuse to the others who aren't aware of the story.  Today, there were no new incidents and that, in itself, was newsworthy.  We talked about it, and then we exchanged the look you give your friends when you know you've been awful and you wish you could suck those words right back into your mouth..... we were being awful and we knew it.

On some level, it was helpful to those who'd encountered her rudeness and thought that they were all alone on the receiving end.  On the other hand, it was talking about someone as soon as she left the room - every teenager's nightmare scenario when leaving a party early.

There was something cathartic in reveling in her distasteful behavior.  It was also kind of icky.

We talked about both sides of the equation in the few minutes between ending and starting new rounds.  We weren't thrilled with ourselves, but we weren't thrilled with her, either.

I heard G'ma in the back of my head, tut tutting as she reminded me that if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.  

I remembered my own younger self knowing that they were discussing me as soon as I left the room.

I don't feel any warmer towards her, but I feel a little less wonderful about myself right now.


  1. I had no idea there were that many Happy Ladies. In my mind, you were part of a small group. Do all 400 meet at one time, or are there subsets? Toxic people are so hard to deal with. My worst job was an organization full of mean people. I lasted a year and then fled.

    1. There's no venue that could hold us all! We have a variety of activities - cards, book clubs, hiking, travels, arts, etc - and small groups are partial to each.

      I never worked with more than one toxic person at a time. I don't know if I'd last a year.

  2. Your post really makes me think. Thank you, Cheryl


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