Circle of life?

I read a lovely post today by Dianne Gray, which made me laugh and remember an incident that happened a year or two ago. An incident that I am still amused and ashamed by in equal measure.

I had been at an event with my husband and we were clearing up afterwards. You know how it is, people drift away at the end and a hard-core of bods is left to do what needs to be done. Everyone finished the litter pick and the taking down of the fence for the ring and so on. It was a lovely evening and no one was in a special hurry to leave. One of our number had taken a caravan as a base for the team and we stood around in the open awning, nattering. There was someone there I had not met before and we began to chat, as you do. She was very interesting and we struck up quite a conversation.

But she came very close when she spoke and I found myself moving back a pace. Not much, but enough to give a little space between us. She moved too and filled it. Uncomfortable, I stepped back. Again she moved forward. I moved once more and she followed. Almost without noticing, we performed our little dance for about twenty minutes. It wasn’t until my back hit the pole of the awning that I realised: we had turned a complete circle. I had been holding that pole to shake a stone out of my shoe when our conversation began and we had talked our way all around the awning, outside and back again.

I had that little bubble inside – you know, the one where you want to laugh and know you can’t. She wasn’t saying anything even mildly amusing, in fact I seem to remember she was talking about her husband’s illness. It was inappropriate to have a fit of the giggles at that moment and yet inside that was what I wanted to do. I tried to concentrate on what she was saying, to arrange my face. I nodded and frowned and tried to look appropriately sympathetic. I felt bad, I knew I was bad, wicked for wanting to laugh when she was obviously having such a lot of trouble. And it wasn’t helped by the fact that the pole had moved. Or we had. We were off again: the dance had begun once more and we were set to begin a second tour of the tent. I am ashamed to say that the bubble inside me grew.

My husband rescued me. He came to see if I was ready to leave and I was. Definitely. We said our goodbyes and went to find the car. I managed not to explode into laughter until I was inside it. John was perplexed and only mildly amused when I told him what had happened. But I couldn’t stop laughing.

So is it funny? Did he just not see the funny side, or did I get unreasonably amused by something a bit silly? I don’t know, but I do know that I’m with Dianne Gray, I like my personal space. Not too much, but a little. When strangers invade it, I tend to shuffle. Or do my circular dance.

And the picture? It’s a dovecote. Well, I wanted to find something interesting for you that was a circle.

15 responses to “Circle of life?

  1. Oh, Pat this is so funny! I could just see it all happening while I was reading this. That quaint little dance we all do when someone invades our personal space. I think you’re a champion for not bursting out laughing 😀

  2. Trying to control that bubble is terrible! always happens at inappropriate times.

  3. Personal space has a cultural dimension. I once had to work with a Spanish lady, sitting side by side. Every hour or so I found myself virtually laying on my back with her towering over me and we mutually agreed by some unknown body language to reset to our starting position. After a couple of times we both got a fit of the giggles but still couldn’t stop it happening.

    • And this made me laugh so much. Very visual!!
      At least you were both able to laugh – I still feel a bit bad. And I still see the lady and she still does it. The giggling doesn’t get any less.

  4. I just read Dianne’s post last night and thought personal space was such a great topic to discuss. Your incident is definitely a funny story illustrating the need to recognize personal space.

  5. I am a definite fan of the three-foot rule of space myself!

  6. I am a sad thing of a man… because my “personal space” boundary fluctuates to the hotness of the woman. 🙂


  7. I can’t bear people moving into my space. I feel quite panicky when it isn’t a tent post I’ve backed up into, but a wall or a corner. And the other never notices it, yet they must do it all the time!

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