Thinking About Opinions While In The Presence Of Sharp Pointy Things

{ Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw via Unsplash }

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Just because something happens, and I am aware of it, doesn’t mean that I have anything to say about it.  Or that I will change my behavior because of it.

I got thinking about this idea the other day when I went to the doctor’s office.  After a brief wait in the waiting room a nurse called me back to the examining rooms.  As we walked along she asked me what I’d done over the weekend.

Basic chit-chat as I got settled into the room, ‘ya know?

Or so I thought.

I told her that we’d gone to a college hockey game.  I was starting to elaborate when she interrupted me with a tirade against the university whose team we’d seen play.

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Her, shocked: DIDN’T YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE DRUGS ON THAT CAMPUS?

Me, mild-mannered: Uh, no… well, yes… it’s a college campus…

Her, outraged: DIDN’T YOU SEE ON THE NEWS THAT THERE WERE RAPES ON THAT CAMPUS?

Me, contrite: Uh, yes I did… not good…

Her, empowered: DIDN’T YOU KNOW THAT MY SON WOULD NOT GO THERE BECAUSE IT WAS A PARTY SCHOOL AND HE DIDN’T FEEL LIKE HE’D BE SAFE THERE?

Me, polite: Uh, no… didn’t know your son considered it, but if he didn’t feel like he’d be safe there then I’m glad he didn’t go there…

Her, demanding: WHY WOULD YOU GO TO A GAME THERE?

Me, quietly: Because it was for work… and it was free… and we had a fun time…

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Now clearly I hit a nerve with this woman.  And as you, my gentle readers, can tell, I answered her questions as accurately as I could, considering that she had at her disposal sharp pointy and pokey things that she could use, while upset, to inadvertently hurt me.

I’m not a fool.

But this conversation, such as it was, did give me pause.  It got me thinking about how I now live in a society where everyone seems to have strong opinions about many things, and you never know what topics are going to set somebody off.  

[See conversation above.]

I also realized that, ironically, I have to admit that I have no opinion about all the people with all the opinions.  Say what you will, think what you want.  Live and let live, you know?

Just don’t hurt me in the process.  That’s all I ask.

Taunts & Tears: In Which I Wonder About Humanity Whilst Shopping

“Do you want $13.47?”

That’s the first thing she said to me.

I told her “no” and explained that I had money.

I was in Best Buy in an upscale part of town and after a long wait in line I’d finally made it to the cashier, a pleasant efficient girl, a bit on the plain Jane side, probably college age– totally confused about what to do next.

“But what do I do with it?” 

She was holding the change from the transaction that had just taken place in front of me when two Kardashian-esque high school kids had purchased some candy with a twenty-dollar bill– and refused to take their change.

“I tried to give them the $13.47 back, but they wouldn’t take it.  They told me to keep the change.  But it’s theirs, not mine.”

I’d been watching and listening to these kids directly in front of me while standing in line.  I knew them for what they were.  Troublemakers.  Snotty rich kids wasting Daddy’s money.  Pointing at the cashier, snickering about her looks.

“But what do I do with the money? It’s not mine.”

As if on cue, we heard a car engine outside the front window of the store and turned to see the two high school kids in a convertible Mercedes, top down, driving by the window laughing and waving at us.

With that my cashier began to cry.  Somehow being mocked by these two had really gotten to her.

So there I stood, waiting for the tears to stop and for her to look at me.  When she did, still sniffling, I answered her question about what she should do.  I said:

You’re ok.  You did everything right.  This is not your fault, no one is going to blame you.  After your shift when you turn in your till tonight you explain that there’s $13.47 too much in there because some rich idiotic spoiled kids wouldn’t take their change.  You’re ok.  This is not your fault, no one is going to blame you.

And you know what?  My words calmed her down so that she stopped sniffling, rang up my sale– and was back to her cheerful self quietly saying her newfound mantra.

“I’m ok.  This is not my fault.  No one’s going to blame me.”

In Which I Listen With The Intent Of Exiting The Scene As Soon As Possible

I HAPPENED TO SEE AN ACQUAINTANCE WHO, after a polite “hello,” launched into a long story about something in her life.

Acquaintance, who is living in the River of Denial, started the conversation, which was really more of a soliloquy, with the words “I’m not a _________, but…” and then went on to tell me about her thoughts and actions that from an objective point of view would say that she is a _________.

“Ain’t it the truth? Ain’t it the truth?”

WHILE I ENJOYED THE THEATRICAL UNHINGED WAY in which she rationalized her behavior, I began to ponder, if given the opportunity, what I was going to say to this woman who, without getting into any of the specifics, I’ll describe as a wackadoodle who needs to see a therapist.

However, being the grown-up that I am I chose to say nothing and remain quiet, listening to her and nodding my head in a supportive way, like an extra on stage behind the lead actor.

As one does, even.

EVENTUALLY ACQUAINTANCE FINISHED TELLING ME HER STORY, and me being me, I said the first thing that floated into my mind.  I let her know that I understood what she’d been yammering on about by saying Snagglepuss‘s immortal catchphrase: “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”

And that, kids, seemed to be all that she needed to hear me say to her, thus giving me my opportunity to gracefully walk away from this absurd conversation.

“Exit, stage left.”

On St. Valentine’s Day: A Slightly Risqué Conversation Between The Old Married People

screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-7-32-22-amZen-Den and I were sitting in our living room the other evening.

I was playing Farm Heroes Super Saga on my iPad.

It’s a free game in which you collect brightly colored produce, flowers, rain drops, wheat sheaves, and acorns.  You accomplish this by moving pieces around the board while dealing with Darwin the Goat who eats wheat sheaves and Fidget the Squirrel who thunks acorns with his tail.

What’s not to love?

screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-7-40-43-amZen-Den, on the other hand, was reading a copy of Smithsonian magazine, but he looked up to ask me how my game was going.

I told him I was on a particularly fun, but difficult, level where in order to win I needed to get Fidget the Squirrel to whack all the acorns on the screen.

To which Zen-Den commented: “Sure, any game in which nuts get a little tail is a good one. Enjoy.”

Image Sources: |1| |2|

~ Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone ~

What To Do When The Gift Of Your Attention Is Thrown Away

[Subtitled: When Expectations & Reality Do Not Align In Interpersonal Communication Exchanges]

[Sub-subtitled: People Suck, Don’t Take It Personally]

A CONVERSATION WITH a genuinely nice friend who is snitified about, of all things, Christmas cards.  Sending of said. Receipt of said. Subsequent action taken [or not taken] as result of receipt of said.

The conversation covered the following points:

  1. sending a card is optional;
  2. sending a card is giving the recipient the gift of your attention;
  3. sending a card does not obligate the recipient to send one back to you, but it’s delightful if they do;
  4. discovering that recipient has sent cards to other people, but not you, is your cue to ______ ?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-37-41-pmWHILE THE SPECIFICS of this conversation were about Christmas cards, as we talked I realized that this gift of attention scenario plays out in other areas of our lives.

For instance, what do you make of someone, a friend &/or family member, who you send friendly texts to, but they never include you in the texting and photo sharing that they do with everyone else in your group?

Or to put it in blogging terms, how do you deal with someone who allows your comments to show up on their blog, then never bothers to respond to you, while publicly talking with all the other commenters on their blog?

To be fair, I truly don’t know if these people who throw away the gift of your attention are even aware that they are doing so.  They could be clueless.  They could be crazy.  Who know?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-38-27-pmBUT THE THING is, people like my friend notice this sneaky ungrateful behavior, and it hurts them.

She’s a person who sincerely believes that you need to model the behavior you want to see in others, so that they may learn from your example.  This means that for her, when someone ignores her, she is flummoxed about how to react.

That is, in this specific case, should she continue to send the card because she is remaining true to her values by showing the recipient the way to live?

Or should she acknowledge that the recipient doesn’t care about their relationship, as shown by the recipient’s behavior– and give up on this person altogether?

I know what my answer is, but for some people this is a difficult decision to make.

When One Doth Use The Snot Out Of Something

I love when the absurd intersects with the ridiculous, and everything suddenly makes sense. 

 { Classic TV: Catch the toast. Kiss the grapefruit. }

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I.  Years ago Zen-Den and I were walking around a discount mall complex.  It was crowded, we were walking slowly, and we chanced to overhear part of a serious conversation between two people who we didn’t know.

What we heard was: “We used the snot out of those oven mitts.”

We started laughing because neither one of us could imagine a scenario where you’d say this sentence with such earnestness.  Of course Z-D and I, being who we are, immediately adopted this sentence as our favorite inside joke that means absolutely nothing, but it’s darned funny to say.

Don’t judge.

~ ~ ~ ~

II.  I’ve been cooking and baking more this winter than usual. We didn’t decorate the house for the holidays, but instead I decided to be festive and make some foods that we especially like: stews, soups, casseroles, breads, biscuits.

Even though the holidays are over now, I’ve just kept on cooking.

All was going well in my happy little cooking world until our last oven mitt ripped in two.  This left me with one square potholder and a dish towel to use when getting food out of the oven, and off the top of the stove.

I adapt. No big deal, right?

~ ~ ~ ~

III.  It didn’t concern me to not have any oven mitts because I was making do with what I had.  It was only when Zen-Den walked into the kitchen and asked me what I was doing that I began to realize that this conversation was going to go somewhere funny.

I got the giggles but was able to explain the situation to him, and for the first time ever I was able to say in all truthfulness: “We used the snot out of those oven mitts, didn’t we?”

Thereby using our favorite absurd overheard sentence in a non-ironic way to describe the present ridiculous situation– and to finally understand why anyone would say that sentence to begin with.

Life is good.

Pillow Talk: Of Snowy Nights and Annoying Logic

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT I woke up with itchy eyes.  I have lots of boring medical problems with my eyes so this happens.

Downstairs on the kitchen counter was a bottle of prescription eye drops that I knew would relieve my itchy eyes, but it was all. the. way. downstairs. and I was toasty warm in our bed upstairs.

Botheration.

However, I couldn’t get back to sleep so I begrudgingly got up and went downstairs at 3:00 a.m. to instill [that’s medical lingo!] a drop in each eye.

Of course while I was downstairs waiting for the drops to do their thing, I glanced out the window to see what was happening outside.

Curiosity.  Or habit.  Maybe both.

I dunno for sure, but I took a look-see.  Just ‘cuz.

~ • ~

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-11-21-45-am
Is this me OR is this a showgirl featured in a promotional photo for the New York World’s Fair (1939-1940)? { source }

~ • ~

ABOUT FIVE MINUTES LATER I WENT back upstairs to bed where I thought I quietly slipped into bed again.  But apparently my blanket shuffling was more disruptive than I realized and I awakened Z-D.

After politely inquiring if I was “ok” Z-D, who knows my habits, asked what the weather was like outside.  I told him that it had snowed, but that it had only snowed on the grass, not on the sidewalk, driveway, and street.

He mumbled: “that can’t be.”

I assured him that was what had happened outside.  It had snowed on the lawn, not on the hard surfaces.  I’d seen it.

Again he said: “can’t happen.”

Then he rolled over away from me taking the covers with him and began to snore.  I would have ignored him entirely but he had swiped too much of the blanket and I wanted my part back.

~ • ~

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-11-29-56-am
Is this our bedroom OR is this a photo from the New York World’s Fair (1939-1940) Town of Tomorrow Exhibit? { source }

~ • ~

SO I TUGGED ON THE BLANKET which roused him again.

At which point, in his sleepy daze as if the conversation about the weather was still ongoing, he said to me: “you’d have to be some kind of stupid to not know that snow falls on everything outside.  It just doesn’t land on the grass, it falls on hard surfaces, too, where you don’t see it because it’s melted.”

And with that he fell fast asleep, leaving me, the stupid person, to realize that: 1) he was absolutely right;  & 2) I had no more interest in talking to him if he was going to use annoying old logic.

I mean, really– this is a man who can’t find his car keys at noon when they’re on the kitchen counter right in front of him, but he can tap into meteorological reasoning when awakened from a sound sleep in the middle of the night?

Who does that?  Honestly…

Meh.