I have always tried to be a helpful person, or at least appear as one. But the unthinkable happened to me this past weekend when I went to my friend’s small housewarming dinner party: I asked my friend if she needed help, and she had the nerve to say “yes” and asked me to cut vegetables.
How could she just take advantage of my politeness disguised as generosity? Didn’t she know the rules?
I had seen Nadia, my friend who was hosting, struggling between cutting vegetables and timing when to deal with the cake she was baking for desert. When I had offered to help, I thought she would do what any decent person would do: graciously refuse even though she’s clearly overwhelmed. But no, all of a sudden I found myself having no choice but to do the thing she asked me to do because I offered. How could things have gone so astray?
I begrudgingly took the wooden spoon from Nadia while she went to go decorate the desserts. I had no experience doing this, mind you; I don’t really “cook” things. But what are you going to do? Some people just take and take. It’s so exhausting.
Nadia then had the nerve to ask me for even more of my precious energy.
“Could you add some water to that and then cover it? It needs to simmer for a little,” she requested.
I had never “simmered” anything in my life. And I had just finished standing there for four minutes, selflessly helping. So I put my foot down, and told Nadia I had no idea what she was talking about. I was done giving so much of myself to this person I barely knew for 11 years who was in my wedding.
When she saw me struggling, she eventually said, “Here, let me do it.”
It seems like she had finally realized her mistake: Never, ever take someone literally when they ask if they can help.
Fatigued and exhausted from cooking for everyone at a party that wasn’t even mine, I recovered my spot on Nadia’s sofa while she served us all the four-course meal as if nothing had happened.
While devastating and confusing, I’m glad I could do what I do best: help.