Overthinking Ordinary Things: Is It Ever Appropriate to “just pop in” on people?
OK, so I’ve been thinking about it, and, you know what? I think “weird” is probably too strong a word for some of the disagreements Terry and I have about what’s acceptable behaviour and what isn’t. I mean, SOME of the things we both do are definitely weird, granted (Yes, Bob and Sheila, I’m looking at you guys here…), but, with others, it’s more a difference of opinion on what kind of thing is appropriate. So, questions of modern etiquette, I guess.
One of those debates Terry and I frequently end up having revolves around the issue of “just popping in” to visit people when you happen to be near their house. You know, like A COUPLE OF ANIMALS.
Terry, you see, is a popper-inner. Hands up anyone who’s even REMOTELY surprised by that? Like, the guy who once invited the Tesco delivery driver in for a house tour was never going to be the one reaching for his smelling salts and saying, “Seriously, dude, don’t make me tell you this again: YOU DON’T JUST “POP IN” ON PEOPLE!” was he?
No, that would be me, obviously.
And, honestly? I AM TOTALLY RIGHT ABOUT THIS, AND NO ONE WILL EVER PERSUADE ME OTHERWISE.
You do not “pop in”. Or not unless you know the people really, really well, and are 100% sure that they welcome the popping, that is.
Me? I don’t really welcome the popping. In fact, I would hereby like to institute a NO POPPING rule. Yes, I realise this makes me sound like a cold, hard bitch, who doesn’t have any friends (I do too have friends, though. Like, some of them are imaginary, obviously, but at least that means they don’t turn up on my doorstep without notice…), but I just… I just like to get a little bit of notice before people can rock up in my living-room. Mostly so I can clean it, let’s be honest here, but also so I can clean MYSELF, and make sure the surprise popper-inners don’t catch me with yesterday’s mascara still under my eyes, and my sweater on back to front. Probably with baby sick on it somewhere, too.
Obviously this would not be the end of the world. I mean, I’m not asking anyone to leave their calling card with my butler, or apply in writing for access to the inner sanctum or anything. If you do happen to pop in on me unexpectedly, I’m not going to take you off my Christmas card list (I don’t have a Christmas card list) or add you to my list of Mortal Enemies (I… did I mention I don’t have a Christmas card list?), or anything like that. No, I mean, at worst, I’ll just be a bit flustered, and that’s obviously not the worst thing in the world, is it?
(Er, having to say that, purely because when I write posts like this, I can guarantee someone will read it as if I AM, in fact, saying it’s the Very Worst Thing In the World Ever, so, just to re-iterate, this is just supposed to be a random talking point, not a Great Big Deal…)
Terry, meanwhile, is, as I’ve said, a popper-inner, although he’d want me to caveat that by saying there are certain people even he will not pop in on, because he’s somehow divined that the popping would not be welcomed. For the most part, though, well, he was raised in a house that was always filled with people: most of whom didn’t actually live there. Seriously, one of Terry’s mum’s favourite things to do was to take a quick headcount and then triumphantly announce, “THERE ARE 17 OF US HERE, YOU KNOW!” so you can see what I’m up against here. In fact, when Terry and I first started dating, I actually spent a few weeks thinking he didn’t really like me, because any time I suggested doing something date-like, he’d be all, “Sounds great: we could invite….” and then name all of his friends and most of his family. I thought he was trying to avoid having to be alone with me: it turned out he just has a “the more, the merrier,” kind of attitude to life, and this extends to the act of “popping in”. Like, why WOULDN’T you pop in and see someone? What’s not to like about SEEING PEOPLE?
And, I mean, it’s hard to argue with that, isn’t it? Or, at least, it’s hard to argue with it without sounding like the kind of miserable, anti-social git that … well, that I totally AM, to be perfectly honest. Seriously, I’m writing this, and I’ve just reached a point where even I’M thinking, “OMG, Amber, it’s YOU! YOU’RE the weird one in this scenario! Everyone’s going to read this and hate you: ABORT! ABORT!”
Even so, I still don’t think I could bring myself to start “popping in”. Because, as nice as it sounds in theory to be the kind of laid-back, nothing-bothers-me, cool girl who just takes everything in her stride, there’s just no getting away from the fact that I’m ACTUALLY the kind of uptight asshole who shrieks, “NO! WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU!” every time Terry suggests “popping in” on friends of ours who I happen to know share my views on this subject. (And he does it every single time we’re in their town, just to taunt me. Like, he knows perfectly well that I’m always going to say no, he just thinks it’s hilarious to keep bringing it up.) And also, I mean, this isn’t an episode of Friends, where we’re all in and out of each other’s apartments, with our swishy hair, and our suspiciously expensive clothes, even although we’re supposed to be poor, you know? Some of us don’t even HAVE swishy hair, FFS. SOME of us need a full face of makeup and seven cups of coffee in the morning, otherwise they spend the entire day being asked if they have the consumption, you know?
I am one of those people. And, because I’m one of those people, I am of the opinion that no, it’s NOT appropriate to “just pop in” on someone – unless, of course, you can be absolutely certain that they’re going to be OK with that.