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…

# # #

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.”

Because It’s Still February & I’m Bored: 10 Trivia Facts I Know

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{ photo by Alice Donovan Rouse via Unsplash }

I don’t know if the following list is an example of useful information OR humblebragging.

I mean on the one hand, knowing some trivia can be fun and fill-in those awkward pauses in social conversations.

But on the other hand creating a list like the one that follows is a bit egotistical.  I mean in essence I’m saying to you, here are things that I know and you probably don’t.  Woo-hoo!

However, I have nothing else to write about today because February, the longest short month on the calendar, is never going to end and I am bored with it.  So why not share some trivia?

Ten Trivia Facts That I Know
  1. I know that on the Jetsons, Astro’s name before he came to live with the Jetsons was Tralfaz.
  2. I know that Cosmic Latte is the name of the color of the universe.
  3. I know that at one time Jell-O came in a Celery flavor.
  4. I know that shoes used to be made with buttons on them, no laces or velcro;  and that you needed a button hook to get the button-hole over the button on your shoe, so it would stay on your foot.
  5. I know that a stoat is a kind of weasel that according to folklore, upon seeing one a person must say “hello” to it– or risk bad luck.
  6. I know that coffee, not tired eyeballs, is an ingredient in red-eye gravy.
  7. I know that baby squirrels in the nest chirp like baby birds.
  8. I know that at one time in the English language you put a backward question mark at the end of a sentence when the question in the sentence was rhetorical.
  9. I know that chromophobia is the word for the fear of color.
  10. I know that you can make a passable martini using chardonnay instead of vermouth.

~ ~ ~ ~

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO SHARE, MY GENTLE READERS. TELL ME SOMETHING TRIVIAL THAT YOU KNOW!

~ ~ ~ ~

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.

In Which Breakfast Disappoints Me & I Am Not Happy

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“A helpful Tribe Called Quest flow chart” via @MarionDowling

THE FIRST THING you need to know is that I dislike eating the end of anything.  Heel of the loaf of bread? Yuck.  Last of the peanut butter in the jar? No thanks.  Final serving of the mac and cheese in the casserole? Ugh.

[Character failing or intriguing personality quirk? You, my gentle readers, are free to decide which it is.]

So this morning, half-awake, as I prepared my breakfast, I went outside my comfort zone when I decided to voluntarily eat the end of the Orange Marmalade.  I like Orange Marmalade, and in the winter when it’s cold and dreary outside Orange Marmalade cheers my soul, which I believe is an admirable thing for a condiment to do.

[It makes me think of England where I went to college for a term.  In the spring, when it was pretty and green outside.  The opposite weather of this morning.]

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SITTING DOWN TO breakfast at the kitchen counter, with my mug of coffee and my tasty toast smeared with Orange Marmalade, I bit into what I thought would be the perfect midwinter anti-gloom breakfast.

[Oh, but was I disappointed.]

It seems that in our refrigerator we also had a jar of almost used up Apricot Jam, which just happened to be sitting beside the aforementioned Orange Marmalade.  And as fate would have it, glancing casually at the orange color, I picked up the Apricot Jam, plopped the end of it onto my toast, and then took a big bite of the wrong thing.

[BLEECH! A thousand times bleech!]

And that’s how my morning started.  Reminding me that my comfort zones are there for good reasons.  To keep my safe, healthy– and HAPPY.  Which I am not, right now.

Aging Gracefully: A Query, A Quandary, A Questionable Answer

“Explain the phenomenon of aging gracefully.”

  • You just never know, do you?

Looking at recent search queries that brought readers to this blog, the one written above caught my eye.  It amazed me.

Usually people find The Spectacled Bean when they’re looking for answers to garden problems [deer eating pansies], self-awareness [Quaker questions], or vanity [V-beam procedure].

I know it’s odd, but it’s true;  those are the three most popular posts on this blog.  Not exactly what I’d consider to be my focus or my best-written stuff, but Google’s algorithm does what Google’s algorithm does.

All Hail Google!

  • My first thought upon seeing this query was to feel a little insulted.  

Aging? Moi?! Pish posh, I say!

But then I remembered that one of my blog tags is Aging Gracefully so I had to lighten up on being insulted, and I shifted my thinking to “isn’t this wonderful?”

I was being asked to impart the wisdom of my many years so that others could learn from my depth of experience, keen observations about human nature, and buoyant spirit. 

So I sat down at my computer ready to compose a post in which I’d answer that query in such a way as to goose Google’s algorithm.  I’d write something so profound and pithy that anyone who asked a similar query, for years to come, would be directed here.

The dream, so close.

  • But here’s the thing, and it’s significant, I have no real answer to this query.

I mean, I dunno.  Maybe the answer is to never stop exercising?  Or maybe it’s to commit to being a lifelong learner?  Or to attempt to let go of any person, idea, or thing that no longer serves you?

None of these? Some of these? All of these?

Or maybe, just maybe, the real essence of the phenomenon of aging gracefully can be summarized in one crotchety remark: “DON’T BOTHER YOUR ELDERS WITH SILLY QUESTIONS!”

You got that, you nosy little whippersnapper?