Mary Grace

In the summer of 2011, my friend Carol, a nurse, joined a mercy mission to Haiti to treat people still suffering from the January 2010 earthquake.  A last minute volunteer, she hadn’t had time to fundraise, but was expected to buy and bring all kinds of medical supplies – bandages, Tylenol, alcohol wipes, rubber gloves.  Everything.

To help defray the cost, Carol sent emails to some friends, and we donated to help defray her costs.

A week after she got back, Carol invited me and three women I had never met over for a glass of wine to thank us, celebrate her return and hear about her trip.

One of the women, Mary Grace, rubbed me wrong immediately.  The middle-aged bleached blond wore a tight sparkly dress that screamed “I’m still 20!” with gold glitter-encrusted flip flops.

Before we were even introduced, I heard her say,

“Now they’re going after Michelle Bachmann because she has migraines!”  I had just the day before posted this blog piece about Michelle’s migraines.  Mary Grace and I were clearly not destined to be BFFs.

Me and Mary Grace are BFFs.  (Newsweek cover photo)

(Newsweek cover photo)

A minute later, she continued her political commentary:

“I’d push Nancy Pelosi under a truck.  I just wish I could keep her clothes …”

“Carol,” I said, looking at the enormous glass of Pinot Grigio she gave me and trying to lighten the mood Mary Grace had struck, “shouldn’t you just pass out the bottles and save hand-washing these glasses?”

Everybody chuckled and we made some small talk.  Drinks became dinner; Carol told us all about her trip.

Everybody but me had a few large glasses of wine, I was driving.

“Even after all the attention following the earthquake,” explained Carol, over grilled shrimp salad, “not much has been rebuilt.  People still live in tents, with cholera, typhoid, other nasty diseases that poverty and no clean water bring.”

Mary Grace didn’t seem to be at all interested; she kept trying to change the subject.  I was getting irritated because we were there, after all, to hear Carol’s story.  I certainly was.

Carol described the terrible plight of the Haitians, especially children, and how difficult it is for them.  Then Carol said the thing that set Mary Grace — and at least three large glasses of wine — off.

The most wonderful thing about my trip,” said Carol, “was Sean Penn.  He’s my new hero.”

“Ugh!” said Mary Grace with disgust.  “No!”

(Thanks, Google)

(Thanks, Google)

Carol continued.  “Right after the earthquake, he raised millions of dollars to build a hospital.  A few months later, though, his money was still in the US.  They couldn’t get it to Haiti.”

“Didn’t he have some crap Hollywood movie to make?”  slurred Mary Grace.  The rest of us rolled our eyes.

“Well,” Carol continued. “Sean managed to get the money, architects and skilled workmen there – he brought them over.  They designed a hospital, hired a whole lot of previously unskilled unemployed Haitians, and taught them the skills to build it.  They did it!  They built the hospital! It’s not done, but I treated patients there!”

Mary Grace rudely burst out “Sean Penn is scum,” she said.  “What good’s he ever done?  He just trades on his Hollywood connections.  Hero, my ass.”

Now I am not a huge Sean Penn fan.  But we weren’t talking about that; we were talking about Haiti.  We were talking about someone who’d helped over there.  We were talking about Carol and her incredible experience.  And we were doing it in Carol’s house.

“He’s an alcoholic, drug abuser,” she said, holding up her enormous glass for a fourth refill.

“Drink up,” I said to her to stifled laughter from everybody else at the table.

I couldn’t believe her rudeness.  Still, I was thinking I am a guest here,  so I clenched my teeth, bit my tongue.  But my heart raced and my blood pressure skyrocketed.  I didn’t want to offend Carol, but I did want to throttle Mary Grace.  Clearly, she didn’t care about offending Carol.

Kelly, one of the other women, said “Ooh, Carol, where did you get that sculpture?” in a transparent effort to change the subject.

But Mary Grace wouldn’t drop it.

“He just trades on his celebrity.  Those liberals in Hollywood, they just trade on their names.  What does he really do?  People like Carol do the real work.”

“Carol did a great job.  As a nurse, she has a skill that she can use to help people.  It is great.” I said with more reserve than I felt.  “But other people have different skills, abilities.  If Sean Penn can manage to build a hospital, why are you putting him down?  What’s wrong with using what you can to help people?

“He does nothing good.  Sean Penn hasn’t done anything good.  Other people do good things.”

“Well,” I said, “you’re a person.  What good things have you done lately?”

Without hesitation she told me:

She held up one finger.  “I am a nice person.  I don’t flip people off in traffic.  I am always polite when I drive.”

She had me there.  I have been known to raise a finger now and then.

Holding up her middle finger, she went on, “When somebody asks me how they look, I always tell them that they look nice.  Even if they don’t.” 

The rest of us sat in stunned silence, mouths gaping.

She held up a third finger:  “And I was in Chipotle yesterday.  Behind me in line were three soldiers.  And I said to the cashier ‘their dinner is on me.‘”

For a minute, I expected her to continue.  But she didn’t.

“Let me see,” I said, holding out my hands.  I held up my right hand, palm up, weighing things:  “On the right:  Lunch at Chipotle.”  I held up my left:  “On the left:  building a hospital for the poor people of Haiti.  Yes, Mary Grace, you’re by far the better person.”

The table was silent.  Everybody, including me, was watching Mary Grace to see what she would say.

She said nothing.

“Carol,” I said, rising from the table and fearing I’d just lost a friend, “I think it’s time for me to leave.”  I grabbed my purse and headed for the door.   Carol was mortified.

“I’m so sorry,” I told her as she walked me out to my car.  “I tried to not be rude, but it was your trip and your hero!”

“You know,” Carol said in her lovely British accent, “Mary Grace wasn’t even invited tonight.  She’s always crashing along with Kelly and Kate.”  She grabbed my arm to make sure I heard the next part.  “When I sent that email asking for donations? I got an email back from Mary Grace telling me ‘no’ and saying ‘Charity begins at home.’

I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one to think Mary Grace a rude bore.

“Mary Grace has been rude to me every time I’ve seen her.  She’s not my friend, yet she always just shows up.” she said, laughing.  “But until tonight, nobody has ever managed to shut her up.”

Carol told me the next day that Mary Grace was insulting Bono along with Penn when she got back in.

“Apparently,” Mary Grace sneered as Carol sat back down, “your friend just couldn’t take it.”-.

Carol closed her eyes.  “Mary Grace, please leave.  You’re no longer welcome here.”

*     *     *

This piece is from my memoir class.  I had to recount a memorable argument.  I thought I’d post it tonight to celebrate two things:

  1. Michelle Bachmann’s Retirement!
  2. My 2nd Blogging Anniversary!  Thanks, everybody.  It’s been a blast!

This is long but it is taken from just about the view I have from my office!


Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Humor, Hypocrisy, Stupidity

94 responses to “Mary Grace

  1. Pingback: No “Thank You”? | FiftyFourandAHalf

  2. Fabulous story! I was coming apart at the seams over the out-of-sync character of Mary Grace being at the same party where others were trying to be gracious and generous of spirit. Finding out she wasn’t invited but had rudely “invited herself” put my mind back together again. I loved the way she got “schooled” by you. “Go Elyse, go Elyse, it’s your birthday. . .” 🙂


    • Eleanor, she was a trip! I was trying to figure exactly that myself–she just didn’t seem like a “giver.” First impressions are sometimes quite right!


  3. As I read this, I kept feeling a sense of surprise that someone like Mary Grace would have been gracious enough to help others. Hearing at the end that she had shown up uninvited set things right again. Congratulations on the blogging milestone, Elyse — and for having the courage to speak your mind.


  4. moi

    good on you for telling her about herself, I cannot stand people like that.


  5. Well, congratulations, my liege, on your … um .. okay, it ain’t diamond or gold .., what the heck in 2nd? Aw, the heck with it, CONGRATULATIONS!
    Me, personally? I think I would’ve run out quick for a box of chocolates for the other ladies. With Mary Grace’s swapped out for Ex-Lax…. 😉


  6. eleganzabello

    I love the fireworks … and … I am glad that Michele Bachmann is leaving …


  7. Someone needs to get that woman a social filter. Pronto.


  8. Wonderful! You showed admirable restraint in the face of extreme provocation. Mary Grace was amazing – amazingly offensive and rude!

    Congrats on the blogaversary. The interwebz is all the finer for having you hanging about in it.


    • Aww, shucks, Peg, thanks.

      Mary Grace was quite the dinner companion. And I had sat as far away from her as possible knowing we would never see eye to eye on, um anything! Oh well.


  9. Happy anniversary! I loved that story. To me it simply boils down to, what could possibly be wrong with someone trying to do the right thing and help? If only more people would actually DO something and help others, we’d have less rude, negative people like Mary Grace.


    • Thanks Darla!

      I think I remembered this story following all the controversy over Angelina Jolie’s decision to have surgery. You don’t have to like someone to admire something that they do. Duh!



  10. Clinton



  11. Happy anniversary! Great story!


  12. winsomebella

    I see great irony in the name Mary Grace. Wonderful job on many levels: speaking the truth to her, retelling this story so well and blogging for two years. Congrats!


  13. Sounds like Mary Grace is a snobby bitch. You held your tongue as long as you could, but you did well.

    HAPPY BLOGOVERSARY! I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know you over the past couple of years.


  14. Mary Grace represents the self-absorbed clueless people of the world. You tried to be nice, but she kept pushing her luck.

    Congrats on two years!


  15. I normally have low blood pressure, however just reading about Mary Grace I think I may need to be medicated. Kudos to you for clenching your teeth and biting your tongue…lord knows that couldn’t have been easy. It’s so much better to sit back and just wait for the asses to bury themselves and them slam them with it.
    Tootles to Michelle! and CHEERS TO MANY MORE YEARS TO YOU!


    • Thanks, Tops!

      MG has not doubt hoisted herself on her own petard. I just don’t usually get to help string folks like her up. At the time it was traumatic, truly. I didn’t know Carol well at all and liked her very much — I thought I was losing a friend by opening my mouth. (I DIDN’T!)


  16. Congratulations on two years, Elyse, always writing from the heart. Nice piece of writing here with such a contrast in heroes and characters, so telling because it’s true. Cheers to Carol, Sean Penn, Bono and I’ll add Brad Pitt for his work in New Orleans…no telling what MG might have dragged up on him (or other celebrity benefactor), thereby limiting the conversation further. I’m afraid the Mary Graces of the world may never get it. But that will never keep you from writing.


    • Thanks Georgette. It was a homework assignment for my memoir class — I got a notice from Word Press that it was my anniversary and thought I should post it. The assignment was to write about a memorable argument and use different methods of dialog (summarized and actual). It was a fun assignment!

      And you’re right of course. The MGs never get it.


  17. bigsheepcommunications

    A brilliant piece to commemorate Michelle Bachmann’s exit. Wish I could’ve been there to watch you in action ;-D


  18. In this case, you showed more restraint than I would have. And yes, I’m glad to see that Bachmann will be done with her stint in the 6th district, but to what asinine ends?
    Congrats on your 2nd blogging anniversary – always a pleasure to read your posts!


  19. Yay for 2 years!
    Yay for putting Mary Grace in her place … though, knowing a few Mary Grace’s myself, I suspect that your words had little lasting impact… good for your friend telling her she’s no longer welcome.

    And, BIG YAY for syonara Bachmann!


    • Thanks, John! I’m glad to see the back end of Bachmann — what a tool!

      And you’re right — MG doesn’t understand the difference or that what people she might not like can be beneficial. Or that we should care about people in Haiti. Oh there is a long list of things I’m pretty sure MG doesn’t understand!


  20. WOW! I love your story and your courage! and I love the fact that Carol spoke to her honestly and asked her to leave! Not many people have the courage to say what needs to be said…and people do need to be educated! At least, I think so…it is a tough job but someone has to do it! Congrats on your Courage and your blogging anniversary!


    • Thanks, Johann. And thanks for commenting.

      Maybe we have the wrong idea these days about what good manners are. Maybe we need to speak up more often. But as I said, I didn’t know the dynamics of the group, and felt I should restrain myself. Until I couldn’t that is! Oh well.


  21. Congratulations on your 2nd anniversary!
    Hopefully Mary Grace won’t be running to replace Bachmann. She certainly could make it as a Republican candidate.


    • Thanks, X! God wouldn’t that be awful if she did run for office. Of course we are both in Virginia — home of some of the craziest of the crazy, so it is not yet out of the question. I will do everything possible to sabotage such a campaign, though.


  22. Good riddance Michelle and congrats on your two blogging years. Congrats! Mary Grace sounds like a real shrew.


  23. Congratulations, Elyse, for everything! Great post.


  24. Hahahahaha! I kept thinking “wow, this Mary Grace person sounds pretty vile, but at least she helped fund that trip to Haiti” — and then I found out I was wrong.


  25. You rock and with far more grace than I would have had. Congrats on 2 years, of joyous laughter, riotous political commentary, doggy stories, travel and just plain old good times.

    I think you and I should be lifting a glass and mad celebration at the departure of that ijit Michelle. You know though, Faux will likely next be introducing the Sarah and Michelle Hour!


    • Cheers, Val. Wish we were closer so we could raise that glass. Although it is 8 am so perhaps later!

      Maybe Fox would name that show the “S&M Hour” — now that would be appropriate. Fortunately when they do, we can change the channel. And I am sooooo very glad Michelle is gone. Not that the ethics investigations had anything to do with her departure. Or the fact that she’d lose the next time … Nope.


  26. Moe

    How best to mark a blogiversary? I’d say the best way is to write a spectacular post. Congrats Elyse, well done.

    The name “Mary Grace” is actually quite irritating. Odd.


    • Thanks, Moe. “Mary Grace” did not fit this woman at all. She had no grace whatsoever. I bet you ran into a few MG’s in Catholic schools!


  27. cooper

    Don’t you just love narcissists??? Congrats on the blogiversary and for biting your tongue as long as you did. I could not have done it with grace, no pun intended.


  28. Congratulations on your anniversary! As for Mary Grace, I don’t know how you held your tongue as well as you did. Your friend Carol is a hero not only for the work she did in Haiti but also for getting rid of Mary Grace.


    • Thanks, Michelle.
      I don’t know how I held my tongue — sometimes you do just have to. I was in someone else’s house and really didn’t know the group dynamics. They all seemed to know each other well. But, not being a saint (or a religious figure) I did reach my limit!


  29. I can tell that ideologically, you and I don’t always agree on everything…however, I always enjoy reading what you write, so congratulations on two years of blogging! I think it’s fascinating who we connect with via writing publicly! I can also say that I would have been equally frustrated by all of those rude comments, but probably wouldn’t have had the courage or wisdom-on-the-spot to confront her then and there. I tend to let things stew instead! Bravo to your friend Carol for her experience in Haiti. I hope all of us can be generous and cheerful givers of all the resources we have! –Alison


    • Thanks, Alison.

      Carol is seriously cool — she’s gone back a few times since this experience.

      And yeah, we won’t agree on politics — but that’s OK. Civil discussions are the way people reach a middle ground. It’s only when folks act like the US Congress is acting today that problems really solidify.

      That said, the chances of me and Mary Grace agreeing on the color of the sky are, ummm, slim to none!


  30. Happy blogiversary!!!
    Great tale, and I’m glad your friend Carol also threw her out.


    • Thanks, Guap! I hadn’t realized it was my anniversary — Word Press sent me a notice. I didn’t have anything ready so pulled this story from my memoir class homework. OK, so I cheated. Sue me!

      Carol is an amazing person, and has better manners than anyone I know. I think the fact that she did throw MG out is another testament to just how rude Mary Grace was. Oohh, my BP is rising again!


  31. Helen Medeiros

    Well done…both for holding your tongue for so long but then finally putting that woman in her place! What a shame she is so narrow minded. Big whooping deal she paid for lunch for some soldiers…..perhaps only to brag about it at every party she would ever crash!
    You go girl! And great for Carol! She is a hero!


    • Thanks and welcome, Helen.

      MG’s narrow-mindedness wouldn’t be as much of a problem if there weren’t so very many like her out there! And buying lunch for some soldiers is a nice thing to do. But ….

      And Carol is seriously cool.


  32. Congrats on your Anniversary – Mary Grace sounds like a lot of people I know on both sides of the aisle that have their minds made up before they hear the story. Sad, it limits you so to always be right.


  33. That must have felt like slamming a figurative cream pie all over her face! Nice work.


    • I must admit it felt great. Especially since I didn’t lose the friendship. And I didn’t kill her. That was a bonus to me, but I’m not sure to the world.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  34. Jueseppi B.

    At 54 & 1/2…..U are a Hottie!!

    Congratulations on two things.

    1). Telling Mary Grace, in your own way, to kiss every Haitians Black Ass.

    2). On your 2 year Blogiversary!

    You Rock.


  35. Jueseppi B.

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Congratulations on two things.

    1). Telling Mary Grace, in your own way, to kiss every Haitians Black Ass.

    2). On your 2 year Blogiversary!

    You Rock.


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