I hate answering this question, because if your answer is "I'm staying home", then it is assumed you are free and eager to accept any social invitation. Somewhere along the line, it was decided by the People That Decide Things that:
- Staying at home alone is the least desirable way to spend a Saturday night.
- Staying at home is not plans, but a lack of plans.
- The company of others is a priori preferable to spending time alone.
- Pursuant to (1), (2) and (3), any social invitation, no matter how boring or unpleasant, is to be immediately accepted if there are no conflicting social engagements.
- Pursuant to (3), failure to adhere to (4) is considered rude and a personal slight.
Predictably, when Amanda heard that I was staying home she invited me out to see a play written by one of her co-workers. I do not like plays. Most especially, I do not like plays by novice playwrights that are performed in 99-seat theaters by drama students and Starbucks baristas. They invariably remind me of Ingmar Bergman films without the levity. In this case, not only would I be required to watch the play, but because Amanda knows the writer I would be required to meet him and tell him how much I enjoyed his play. I do not need to tell you why this is unacceptable.
When Amanda called, I had already prepped a Cornish game hen that I was planning to cook for dinner and was looking forward to having a nice meal and watching my new Netflix arrival. To me, those are plans, even if no one else is involved. I knew that this reasoning would not work with Amanda, though. On a previous occasion she had called me at about 6pm asking if I wanted to get some dinner, and when I replied that I had already begun cooking dinner she asked why I couldn't put it in the fridge and have it another night. So that's what we're dealing with here.
As soon as she asked me to go to the play, I knew I was screwed no matter what I did. I was either going to ditch my plans and go do something I really didn't want to do, or I was going to decline and look like an asshole. I audibly hesitated as I told Amanda that plays weren't really my thing. She said, "But you're not doing anything else. You're just going to sit home instead of going to the play with me?" I really wanted to object to her dismissive use of the word 'just', but this was no time for pedantry. I sort of declined again, and then she - a woman who never misses an opportunity to talk about how independent and strong she is - played the helpless woman card. "Are you going to make me go to Hollywood alone at night?" I knew she was half-kidding, but I knew she was also definitely trying to guilt me into going. I wasn't having it. She finished with, "Well, I have to leave by six. Call me if you change your mind."
Amanda is Canadian, and is here for just a few months for work. I am the only person from Los Angeles that she knew before coming here, so I - the introvert - have assumed the responsibilities normally divided among an entire social circle. Not two weeks ago I spent 12 hours in the hospital with her when she had minor surgery because there was no one else to do it. I feel that I should be able to say no sometimes without making someone mad. I feel that if I want to stay home then it should be considered the same as if I have plans with another person.
I also feel that this entry started out funny but wasn't so funny by the end. So let me just say...POOPY!