Did you ever have one of those friends acquaintances?

You know the ones. You work with them, so you do your best to get along. And they aren’t mean-spirited, or particularly spiteful, or even smelly. But they — let’s see how I can put this — they value themselves, and their infinite wit and wisdom — much more than the people around them do. Ahem.

Now that we are on the same page, let me continue. See, I was rid of this particular co-worker several years ago. She moved on, and while I gave her a sincere hug on her last day, I was really sort of glad to see her leave. Simply put, she was a tiring person to be around. She told long, drawn-out stories, stories in which she was always the center of it all. (Not boastful, mind you. People like that are easy to deflect. You just don’t respond and they go away.) She was (and is) different. Her tales are simply boring. Uninteresting. Full of her ‘witty’ comebacks. Full of the way she ‘put someone in his place’.

She’s back, now, having made the rounds of the governmental maze that we both work in, and has settled comfortably into place here again. At first I thought she had mellowed a bit, having been through two more husbands since she left (she’s a good wife — I truly believe she just talked them to death), and for awhile, it appeared she had.

But yesterday, she planted herself in the doorway of my office and started with her trademark, “You’re gonna love this…I thought of you when I said it.” And this time I just stared at her. I didn’t react. I just gave her my thousand-yard stare the entire time she was talking. It’s something I wouldn’t have done twenty years ago.

One of the things I’ve discovered about myself as I’ve grown older is that I don’t have to be an active participant in everything. I don’t need everyone’s approval, and they certainly don’t need mine. I don’t need to be in on every joke, and I don’t need to be the life of the Christmas party. My circle is smaller and tighter, but it’s far more important to me.

It’s okay if my life is quieter. I’ve learned to control my surroundings so that I don’t let things, or people, get to me. And I’ve learned to react to people in a way that makes me feel better.

By the way, I don’t really think she even noticed my indifference. Those types usually don’t. The fact that the person they are talking to is looking at them is enough. They just don’t realize the person is seeing right through them.

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