Those looking for sound guidance have many sound avenues from which to choose. All others can consult the former queen of France who on Sundays fields questions and doles advice in this space. If you have your own question, please write her at whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.
I have a co-worker who… is nothing but drama. She’s always frantic, always breathless. Everything is always a pending disaster. I’m above dwelling on it, but suffice it to say that’s she’s a little insane. She says whatever is on her mind about everyone and thinks nothing of calling two levels above her with the smallest complaint. Lately, I find her cornering me at the coffee maker, telling me endless stories about how crazy her boss is, and I just listen to be polite. But recently she told another supervisor about her problems but added that I agreed with her totally. I didn’t agree with her at all, only listened while the coffee brewed. I’m told that she is on her way out and I don’t know if it’s worth it to tell her it’s not cool to bring other people into her messes and to tell her off altogether. Do I say anything to her? Do I let it go?
-Office normal person
We all dream of a world without drama, without “issues,” without vaguely termed “personalities.” Yet, as we bemoan cattiness in all its forms, we find ourselves transfixed by it entirely. We watch reality TV to escape our own peaceful (and boring) existences. We start stories about friends and colleagues with the phrase, “can you believe…” We hate the drama but find ourselves smitten.
For a short time at Versailles, I lived drama-free. This is a lovely side-effect of not knowing any better. Haters have always hated, especially at Versailles, but as a newly-minted princess, I didn’t know that. Cue the happy montage of a young girl in a very big skirt followed by more strangers in very large skirts passing others in a huge palace without anything interesting happening at all. People would nod and murmur pleasantries, as you might in the elevator on your first day of work. Everyone might be your future boss, confidant, or cubemate. You think, ” better make a good impression.”
I don’t have to tell you that this isn’t very interesting. The CW doesn’t have a single show entitled Nice People. MTV’s producers don’t pitch shows with real-life characters committed to others’ fulfillment. I also don’t need to tell you that this doesn’t last. The biggest bitch you ever knew had a picture perfect first day. Conflict is interesting. Snark is interesting and even fun. Real life drama is often more captivating than television, and without television, at 14, 15 and 16 and onward, what young girl could resist starring in her own personal drama?
Your friend reminds me a little of myself in those days a girl who doesn’t know the rules until she finds she’s broken them. I spontaneously hugged the Comtesse the Noailles and was coldly corrected. I shivered, naked, waiting for her chemise in an interminable dressing ceremony, and my very real response, “This is ridiculous,” sent shockwaves through the court. Perhaps my inner cat emerged in defense to all this rigueur, as a reaction to a world so unforgiving to her very honest nature. Perhaps my penchant for mischief, always present in Austria, couldn’t resist needling the stiff and serious Versailles.
In my case, I began to find my inner cat. “What did it matter?” I thought. “They’re harsh with me already and I’ve done nothing at all.” Worse, I asked myself the purpose of friends or enemies, being liked or disliked, when I would be queen and the lot of them would not. Who needs allies when your post does not depend upon them? A sound thought for sure, for a girl with no long-term plans.
The girl seems to trust you. You can tell her to hold back and calm down and advise her on how to navigate your office’s particular culture. After this, limit your exposure to her rants since she has made you party to her opinions. And remember that as much as the drama and gossip has transfixed you, you have the choice to tell her that you’re swamped and can’t talk right now, and continue putting her down gently until she doesn’t come to your desk any longer.
Are you a drama queen? A Quick Quiz for Modern Maries
Answer yes or no
- If you were on a reality show, would you be the one saying, “I’m not here to make friends.”?
- Do you think Spencer Pratt has sympathetic qualities?
- Do you argue with people on the Internet?
- Have you ever been punched “for no good reason”?
- Can you justify any action with, “I don’t care what anyone says. This is just who I am.”
- Have you ever told anyone to “check” themselves?
- Do you find yourself telling your significant other the same stories about the same people, again and again?
- Do you somehow magically get paired with back-stabby, underminy people wherever you go?
- Have all your bosses been incompetent jerks?
If you answered Yes to 1-3 of these questions: You’ve got a touch of the princess. Unbunch your skirts and relax.
If you answered Yes to 2-6 of these questions: You are a full-fledged drama queen. No, that’s not a compliment and no you shouldn’t throw a drink at me.
If you answered Yes to more than 6 questions: You are a drama Empress who likely crowned herself, Napoleon-style, at her coronation. Remember that Napoleon had a short man’s complex and was later exiled.
What was your score? Did the queen get it right? Tell us in the comments.