Madame Ex, Line Two


As a bitter old queen of a certain age, I have racked up a number of “former friends.”  Chums about whom I now say “Oh, yeah, we used to be friends” or, more tellingly, “Yes, I knew him/her” with a cogent lack of enthusiasm.  A prime example of this turned up recently.  Let us call her Madam X, or perhaps better, Mme. Ex, just so no one will think I am referring to Lana Turner, whom I believe is, technically, dead.

So Mme. Ex and I go back to my misguided college days, back to the same time when I met the charming Diane von Austinburg; please note I am still tight with Diane.  Mme. Ex, however, sends me squealing in the opposite direction.  And believe me, I’m not the only one.  Diane and all our other friends of those heady days gone by unanimously avoid her and for the same reason.  The bitch cannot talk about anything but herself.  Never.  Not a word passes her lips that is not directly acquainted with her ego.

I understand the irony, the hypocrisy of someone who writes a first-person blog that might as well be called “My Fabulous, Fabulous Life” complaining about someone else’s self-centeredness, but when not here in, I am perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation that at least implies I am interested in the other person, even if I am mentally composing grocery lists as they speak.

Not so with Mme. Ex.  If at any point in the chat, she actually stops speaking, it is not to listen to what you say; it is simply waiting for her turn to start again.  Thus, when she called to announce she had blown back into town, I settled in for a few hands of solitaire and to play my part as Designated Listener while she noodled on about life in the Southland.

A few times, since I was losing and sort of bored, I would thrust myself into her flow to announce what was going on on my side of the phone.  I told her I had retired, and then a couple of sentences later she asked if I was still working downtown.  I braced myself to tell her about R Man dying, R Man, someone she had known almost as long as me and with whom she had spent substantial time. She pulled out all the stops and allowed she was sorry, with the same sincerity she would have met an announcement on my part of a bad manicure.  And then, of course, changed the subject.

After that, it was pretty much wrapping the whole sorry thing up with several totally insincere “We’ll have to get together while you’re here.” and a stern mental reminder to myself to stop answering the goddam phone.

Thank you Jeebus for voicemail.

How come guys like this don’t call me up and ask to hang out?  Huh?

About mrpeenee

A former bon vivant and terror of a number of New Orleans bars in the mad, gay 1980s, I'm now quietly retired and widowed in San Francisco. I have a crooked nose due to an unfortunate Frisbee accident.

11 responses »

  1. Mr. P, I feel so sorry you have a Mme. X in your life. I know what it's like. I've tried to make sure all mine have met untimely ends, but there a few still running around out there. . .

    A tip, tho: Voice mail is good; a phone with Talking Caller ID is even better. (There are a couple different companies offering this.) Even if you're not close enough to read the Caller ID display, you'll be able to tell if it is someone like Mme. X — or someone you'd actually want to talk to. I'll pick up if it tells me family or friends are calling, but let the machine get it if it's a name I don't recognize or a refill reminder from Walgreen's.


  2. had a similar recently….

    when back east, visited a pal who i've been close with ever since we worked together. there was a third of us….a clone of your mme. ex.

    blanche & i left a snarky note on his facebook page.
    he never acknowledged it. YAY!


  3. I've more or less solved the problem – which can be a real bore, as you so deftly note – but I suppose moving repeatedly and at distances of up to 7,000 miles or more from one's shared territory can't work for everyone.


  4. Hee. The bad manicure line has now made me laugh twice, despite its most unfortunate context. I know from experience you compose grocery lists on paper; stop showing off.

    And everyone stop answering the goddam phone!


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