The elderly, the wise, the aged--whatever is considered politically correct. I like them.
They're usually grand and friendly and have interesting life stories they're always so inexplicably willing to share in great detail. I mean, this one time, I spent two hours in an interview with a member of the bishopric where conversation about my calling morphed into him telling me about being a fighter pilot in Vietnam. And it was totally interesting. So I do like them, I do. It's just...sometimes....
I don't know what it is, but something seems to make them think that they can pass judgment on ANYTHING. I don't have to know them, I'm usually not related to them, but they're always so willing--eager, even--to criticize anything about me.
Once, some old man told me Shelby was a boy's name and it was stupid to name a girl that.
Thanks a whole lot for that piece of news.
Another time, someone else's grandma said she found my voice annoying.
Well, I don't much like hearing your wheezing either.
I'm being mean, I know. I'm taking it personally and maybe I shouldn't. But come on. Was it just something people did fifty years ago? Just say whatever they want, whatever they're thinking? Or do the elderly see blatant, impolite "honesty" as a way to gratify their painstakingly collected years?
Today at work, I'm chatting happily with an old(er) guy and his wife. He's talking about the weather. He's talking about the library. He's telling me about how much better BYU is than the U. He's even telling me he didn't like the major his granddaughter picked because he sees it as useless and silly. I don't much care for what he's saying, but I'm smiling and listening and responding. And then he looks me over and says he doesn't understand my top.
I blink and look down, wondering if there's actually a secret message written across it. What is there to understand? I don't know. It's just a couple of layered tees, one maybe two inches longer than the other. It's not the Da Vinci code, people. It's nothing to get a new wrinkle over.
"You know," he says, "I thought that was a bandanna."
I don't really know what to say, so I shrug and I smile, laughing ever-so gently. I'm willing to let it slide. But then the wife steps in.
Who knows, maybe she just didn't like me. Maybe she was jealous.
But she looks me up and down. I imagine her smile fading into a sort of sneer. Her eyes narrow as she leans in.
"I don't like it," she says. My mouth drops. But she's already turning, her nose pointed up disdainfully. "It's a weird style."
Now, listen. I can take about anything. But you call my clothes into question and I turn into an insecure thirteen-year-old girl with pigtails (they matter).
Just sitting there, watching them walk away, I could feel the screams of fury rising in my throat. I saw myself shouting at them to stop:
"WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?"
"YOU THINK I'M WEIRD?!?" (It gets personal)
"WELL, I THINK YOU'RE WEIRD" (That'll really show her)
And then the kicker.
"YOUR STUPID SWEATER ISN'T COOL. I'M COOL!"
Yeah, if my thirteen-year-old alter ego got all the way out, I probably would have attacked them. Physically. I would have been foaming at the mouth by the end, clawing at the air, my eyes rolling wildly. All over some stupid choice of words.
Weird. Bleh. Well, I think your sweater set is weird. I think people willing to wear cat patterns in public are weird. I think the fact that you'd criticize a perfectly cordial stranger is weird. And I don't care.
I just don't.