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What Would Larry Do?

Erik called me Larry David on Sunday. It wasn?t a case of mistaken identity, although it was very early in the morning and he didn?t have his glasses on. But even so, I?d have been pretty pissed off. As it was I was quite flattered, Larry David is one of my comedy heroes.

If you haven?t watched the show Curb Your Enthusiasm then I?m sorry. Partly because it?s such a fantastically funny show but also because the basic premise for this entry won?t really make sense to you. While I hate to be exclusionary, I can?t change things just for you. So, before you read any further could you please go and rent Series 1. When you’re done, come on back, you’ll probably find us in the archives as there seems to be quite a fast turnover of entries these days.

Anyway, Larry David, star of Curb Your Enthusiasm (available at all good video stores and Blockbuster) is generally unlikeable. He?s rude, argumentative and abrasive and manages to annoy and infuriate everyone around him. But his appeal comes from the fact that he?s very honest and says or does the things most of us want to, but would never dare. And he’s funny. Embarrassingly, cringeingly, rudely funny.

Being someone who gets annoyed by pretty much everything, but rarely expresses it beyond these entries, Larry David is the man I long to be. Not that I?m longing to be a man, I?m reasonably happy being a woman. I think you should stick with what you know.

Anyway, Erik and I were getting ready to run in a 10K (6.2mile) race on Sunday morning. Yeah, we’re runners. It was a little humid, I was thirsty and I could see quite a few people taking bottled water from the ice chests along the starting line, which also acts as the finish line. Now I accept that these bottles are for the finishers but I was wearing a race number on and obviously going to be running. As I reached into the ice chest I made a mental promise to only take a bottle of water at the end if I was sure that there was plenty still available. I would also drink at least 2 cups at each water stop to reduce my overall thirst.

But apparently this was not enough to appease my guilty conscience because the lid to the ice chest wasn?t attached and as I was pulling out a bottle, it slipped and clattered onto the pavement. At that moment, I heard a loud shrill voice ?No?
?That water is for AFTER the race, you can?t take it. Put it back?

Feeling like a 5 year old caught with her fingers in the till, I was embarrassed, startled and angry. I?ve never been caught with my fingers in the till, which is a euphemism for stealing from your boss and I doubt many five year old’s have either, unless it’s one of those Fisher Price toy cash registers and their older brother jammed their fingers in the drawer. I did steal from my boss when I was 14 but my theft of strawberry bon-bons and the occasional box of Embassy No.1 cigarettes went undetected by the owners of Pilbeams, the village sweet shop.

While I knew I was in the wrong, I never like being the one to get caught and tend to get all defensive and stroppy. I threw the water bottle back and replaced the lid, then stomped over to the woman and demanded to know exactly where I should get water from. I cast off the passing thought that if I?d wanted water I should have brought it with me. She rather tersely directed me to the registration area while giving me the whole ?if I let you take a bottle everyone else will want one too…? lecture.

Knowing that there?d be no water at the registration area and that she was just sending me over there to further infuriate me, I walked over and found the table with the large freshly filled water container and quantity of paper cups. For some reason this annoyed me even more and as Erik and I walked back, I told him that I had to go and ‘have a word’ the woman. He was thrilled.

I could feel the adrenalin pumping as I walked over, figuring out what I might say to her. Nothing too rude because there were lots of other runners around and it?s sort of frowned upon to abuse race volunteers. But I certainly didn’t want to make peace with the woman. So I chose the middle ground, overt American-style sarcasm.

Me: ?Thank you so much for directing me to the water in such a friendly and helpful manner. I really appreciated the way you did that.?

Obviously a fan of American-style sarcasm, she responded in kind:

Her: ?Well you?re very welcome.?

There was more to it. I pointed out that she hadn’t needed to shout, she said I just didn’t like being yelled at, which was a fair point. And then just as I was walking away she yelled:

?… I?m so happy to wait on you hand and foot.?

I could see Erik just standing there, watching horrified as I turned and walked back over to her. Well I had to. I hate it when you think you?re done with an argument and then the other person lobs in a final inflammatory comment that forces you to either respond or concede defeat.

It?s tiresome for both you and I if I keep writing out the whole conversation but I tried to take the moral high ground at this point by saying I didn’t want to be waited on, all I wanted to do was run a race and not have an argument with a volunteer whose presence at the race I greatly appreciated. I delivered this in an exasperated tone as if I just couldn?t understand this unwarranted attack on me. I think I won the final round.

As I walked off, Erik decided this would be a good time to show his support by making his Larry David comment. As we lined up for the race, I put on my headphones and played the song American Idiot. I ran that first mile for the water woman, Erik and the club booker who still hasn?t called me back. I knocked 20 seconds off my personal record.

This could be the end of the story but as I?m still typing it clearly isn?t. Crossing the finish line, I was parched. Frankly I didn’t care how much water was left as long as there was enough for me. I grabbed a bottle from a guy and then gave it back and asked him to open it for me because I was all sweaty and after running 6.2 miles your fingers stop working. It?s a runner thing.

Just as he handed it back to me, I saw water woman heading towards me with a bottle in her hand. I tried to avoid eye contact, I just couldn?t face a lecture, especially as I was reasonably proud of my finish time and knew I only had a few precious seconds left of feeling like that. But as she got closer, she smiled, held up the bottle and said she wanted to be the first to give me some water. Then, THEN, she started apologising for being so rude to me earlier and how she was totally in the wrong and was only shouting because it was noisy out there. As she said all this, I thought about what Larry David would do in the same situation. He’d probably have agreed that she was rude and in the wrong and then rehashed the whole incident, making the woman retract her apology and causing a huge scene. But at least he’d truthful. I realized that I could either follow his example, or I could do the right thing for once.

Me: ?oh god, you’re kidding, no, it was me, it was all my fault …I was nervous about the race, you were just doing your job, no really I was rude .. I don?t blame you, I started it …well I appreciate you saying that and for volunteering today, yes thanks again and oh thanks for the water…ha hah, yes, bye then, bye.?

Damn all you decent bear-no-grudges people in the world that make me look like a self-centred cow.