Wow. I had NO idea what a nerve I would touch here. It seems like everyone either has been in this situation or knows someone who has or knows someone like the ferret. So...thank you for your comments. And thank you, too, for all the e-mails (and especially the one from you, Utah, offering to come knock her teeth out.)
I talked to Bing. Not that I felt it was absolutely necessary, but because Harriet talked me into it. I called Harriet, she and I met for coffee and we discussed it. First, she made me laugh.
"Oh, good fucking hell...let's go....PIE...her!"
This is funny only to us, I suppose. About five years ago, Harriet and I exchanged "wish" lists. Things that we want to do before we die. We vowed to help each other achieve the wishes. One of the wishes on her list was: I want to throw a pie in someone's face who has really pissed me off.
So...hence the pie line.
But, basically, she said that I needed to talk to Bing, that even if I claimed that this didn't bother me, it must if I was talking to her about it.
I thought about it and agreed.
So, I just asked Bing about it last night after Liv was in bed. I told her that I had been searching out the purse in her closet and found the shoebox of notes and cards and asked her what was up with that.
She looked at me blankly.
"Well," she said. "Yeah, I keep a box of cards and photos from Margaret. It isn't as if I were hiding them, Maria. They are right next to my work out shoes, in plain sight."
I asked her why she was so sentimental about them.
She was slow in answering and then she said, "You know, you keep a box of cards and letters from Harriet, Tinton, Nirand, Utah, Vince, and Thuan..."
She's right. I do. And as I thought about it, I realized that not only do I keep a memory box, Harriet and I also have a friends anniversary that we celebrate. We go out for dinner and exchange gifts.
I told Bing that the difference was that I shared all the notes in there with her, I didn't just squirrel them away.
She gave me a long look.
"ALL of them?" she asked.
Hmm. Maybe not all of them. Most of them. A few of them just felt too personal to share, but JAYSUS...I wasn't hiding them or anything...
I told her this. She nodded.
"Neither am I...," she said.
Then she told me that she knew that I strongly disliked Margaret and that she figured that I would just make fun of the bad spelling and the notes in general.
"¥ou know how you are," she said. "You can be pretty sarcastic..."
She's right. I can be.
"And...well...yeah, I like the notes and the photos. I like Margaret. Honestly, I have no idea why you hate her so much. And she is constantly teasing me about how whipped I am over you, says that I should wear a tee shirt saying I AM IN LOVE WITH A GODDESS. I mean, think about it, you have all these people who are nuts about you, send you cards and letters, call you just to talk, and well...I just have Margaret. I have lots of acquaintances, I don't have friends who worship me like you do."
I thought about this too. Bing has only been in hearing distance once when the ferret has gone into her snotty ass comment mode with me. It was when she was talking about how she could NEVER give up her career to have stayed home to raise her children for fear of losing her brain power. Bing sort of snorted and said something like that she pitied the fool who took on me in the brains department and that she is always telling me to go on Jeopardy! because we could really, really use the money and I know the answer to every damn question Alex asks anyway....
And then Bing went on.
"You know, Margaret acts differently when you are around, I think she feels very insecure around you. She has told me, too, that you make her feel stupid. I wish you could see how funny and good natured she can be but I think she just gets jittery around you..."
Well, fuck that. The simple truth is that I fight back. When she goes into her haughty act, I say something, but I keep it very low key. For example, when she said that she was raised by Jesuits, I just asked her if that meant she went to Catholic school. When she said yes, I said, "Oh, well, I guess I was um...raised by Jesuits too, then..."
Except, okay, I said it in this voice that let her know that I thought she was a pretentious ass.
And once, when she was complaining about her supervisor, she said, "It's as if he thinks I'm not as smart as a picnic basket, for godsakes."
And well...I said (in a completely deadpan voice), "Oh, Margaret, I think you are probably just as smart as a picnic basket, maybe even more so."
So, yeah...I give as good as I get. The difference being that I don't use my...um...razor sharp rapier wit against people that I....LIKE.
I told Bing that the bottom line was that I felt uncomfortable with the box and it bothered me to feel that way.
"So, what do you want to do?" she asked. "Should we both burn our shoe boxes? Because if I have to burn mine, I think you should burn yours...."
She softened then.
Hugged me. Did that nuzzling thing with her nose against my cheek that is very, very nice.
"God, I can't believe you are actually JEALOUS...I'm sorry, but I kind of....LIKE this. You are never jealous," she commented.
I had to smile.
"I'm not THAT jealous," I retorted. "Maybe just a little bit. Maybe just like...a wee bit. Like maybe an inch. No. Maybe a quarter inch."
And then the phone rang and it was a friend who had locked herself out of her house and needed one of us to run her over the spare key. So, we didn't get to talk further about it until we were in bed.
I told her to forget about the box. That it was no big deal. That I couldn't help it, I thought Margaret was a total bitch but, well...if Bing liked her THAT much, I wasn't going to stand in the way or make a federal case out of this.
And Bing said that yes, she did like Margaret, she was sorry if that bothered me, that if it was going to come between us, she'd end the friendship, but she really, really didn't want to do that and besides, it would make her feel like I was some sort of friend dictator.
We agreed that it was my right to dislike Margaret and her right to like her.
I asked Bing if she gave Margaret a lot of cards.
She thought about this.
"I think I gave her a birthday card," she said. "And when she sprained her ankle, I bought her a foot wrap that helped me when I sprained mine. And I send her funny e-mails sometimes. Am I supposed to report to you now when I do this kind of shit?"
I told her no, of course not. I don't tell her about every card I send to Harriet or anyone else.
So, we talked it out.
It isn't completely resolved but about as resolved as this is going get, I'm afraid.
I can live with it. I can live with Margaret.
Well, not literally. But, I admit that I enjoy knowing that I rattle her a bit. I enjoy that QUITE a lot.
And knowing me, I will use it to my advantage because I am not a particularly kind person when it comes to people like the ferret.
But, Bing and me? We are fine.
But, you know...I am sort of in the mood for some....
And I know just the person to call.....