Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't You Mind People Grinnin' In Your Face

A few days ago I was in the drugstore, buying saline solution and insoles for my shoes.

I'm a contact lens wearer, and I like my feet to be comfy and odor-free. As any reasonable person would be.

I had just had some lunch, and I was enjoying my morning off before yet another grueling night at work.

I walked up to the counter to pay for my items, and there was an older man up there ringing up purchases. I was wearing a shirt that said 'Old Navy' on it, and he mumbled some comment about it. I couldn't really understand what he was saying, but I supposed he was trying to be friendly, so I nodded and smiled as he rung up my purchase.

He then intelligably said, 'You must be a Marine wife.'

Understandable mistake, almost every woman in this town is a Marine wife or Marine daughter. I smiled and told him no, my husband was not a Marine. Even though I had no idea what that had to do with my t-shirt.

He said with a voice full of pity, 'Oh, that's too bad.'

WTF is that supposed to mean, right?

Since you don't live in this area, I'll tell you exactly what it means. The old man looked at me, and saw a relatively young woman and assumed I was married to a relatively young man.

When I said my husband wasn't a Marine, he assumed my husband was a relatively young man that should stop being a pussy and join the service to fight for his country. I know that he was inferring this because I'd had a similar conversation before with another retired Marine.

In that conversation (which started in the same way), I had to explain that my husband is 48 and has already voluntarily done his time in the Marines, oh, in the late 70's to early 80's. That he's now too old to even be drafted. Not to mention he only has a-lung-and-a-stump. That always gets me a bulging eye stare and another question as to how old I am.

I feel like I shouldn't have to explain this every time!

Instant day ruiner. I'll be minding my own business, going about my day. And someone will say something stupid that just makes me want to bitch slap them.

Should stupid things that people say ruin my day? Probably not. I let this one go, and let the old man think what he thinks. Because I just get tired of explaining. At least it gives me something to talk about at the dinner table, and on this blog.

Stupidity doesn't just extend to other people. I've been guilty of saying something that I didn't think about first. Usually it's just some innuendo in the wrong company.

Or the one time I said the *cough*c-word*cough* too loudly in conversation with Chuck and another guy at a party. There just happened to be a lull in the loud background noise. All the women in the room turned to glare at me with angry-laser-eyes (by c-word I don't mean 'cancer' or 'courgettes'...or 'cough' for that matter).

Hey, the only people I hung out with before that were fresh-off-the-boat, Gaelic Football playing Irish guys. They ubiquitously used the c-word as 'hello,' 'goodbye,' and 'I love you, man'. I became immune.

Why don't we as humans just shut up before we put our collective feet in our collective mouths? My friend Bub has written a couple of blog posts about that very topic, most recently this one.

This last Christmas season, I was very busy helping customers check out. The next person in line had their back turned, talking to his girlfriend/wife. They had their infant child with them in a stroller. I caught a snippet of their conversation with the people behind them, in which they were discussing the age of their new baby.

'Sir? I can help you now, ' I said.

He turned around, and I saw that he was a she. I think it was an understandable mistake. This person was stout, wearing man's clothes, man's rings, a very short haircut and had a passibly mannish voice. All of which didn't quite cover up the fact that she was a woman. Of course I didn't think, and just started talking.

'Oh, I'm so sorry!' said I.

'Oh, no, don't worry about it! I'm completely not offended,' said she.

What I said next should have been this:

'Oh, ok, I'm glad. Did you find everything you were looking for today?'

Instead of that, I just kept on saying stupid shit. I think my feet taste pretty damn good. Pour some ketchup over those bitches.

I replied,'You know, my husband has long hair, and people will sometimes mistake him for a woman if they're not looking too closely and call him ma'am. He hates that!' *laughing a little too loudly and wildly*

She was really very nice, and said again not to worry about it. Her girlfriend/wife was looking at me like I was an idiot.

And I felt like one, because then I thought...what if she's not just a lesbian, but really trying to live as a man? I felt terrible that I didn't just mistake her as a man! That's a long, tough process to go through. I don't want to set anyone back or hurt anyone's feelings!!

Yes, this is the way my brain works.

Because I've had my feelings hurt a few times by well-meaning people. The worst is when people feel the need to congratulate me on the upcoming birth of my baby.

What's that, Dear Readers? You didn't know I was pregnant?

Exactly. This actually happens to me frequently, more frequently than I'd like. I know I'm a bit chunky, but I don't feel like I look pregnant fat!

Usually it will be a man that makes this mistake, and I try to be understanding and not take it to heart. The last time this happened, it was a woman.

When I told her I wasn't pregnant, she said 'Oh, well don't worry. I love to eat too!'

I wanted to cry and hit her at the same time.

Kyna's Public Service Announcement For The Year #2:

Unless you have your head between a woman's legs in the delivery room, getting ready to catch a kid...scissors in one hand, celebratory cigar in the other... DO NOT congratulate a woman on her pregnancy before she mentions it herself. It might get you a knuckle sandwich. And after she's done hitting you, she'll go eat a sandwich. A big one. Because you've just ruined her self-esteem. And you should feel really bad about it.


Prairie Chicken... said...

Ok CUNT word story

My husband is a recent Scottish import. When he first started living here we were standing in line somewhere and said cunt in a sentence and it was like the entire mall stopped moving and everyone turned around in slow motion to glare at us.

I had to explain to him very quickly that "cunt" was like calling someone a Feenyin. Just don't do it.

its funny cos Brits use the word in every day conversation.
"him? he's a good cunt"
"look at that cunt"
"those cunts over there"

Kyna said...

Haha! Exactly!

My friend Christina used to try and train it out of our FOB Irish teammates. If one of them said cunt, she'd loudly chastise them or stare them down till they apologized LOL! If you're reading this, love ya, Christy. Even though you've probably already closed the post in disgust ;)

Liz said...

Hey Kyna,

Must say, the C word doesn't seem to be half as bad over here as it does there...

But then if you were to use the word 'fanny' over here you'd get plenty of sniggers and probably bemused looks as it means something very different :)

Basically everything in England is an innuendo and we're so used to hearding them that no one bats an eyelid anymore. So although I wouldn't be saying cunt in front of my parents it wouldn't shock me to hear it either.

Something else culturally different must be the baby thing. I am no small lady, and I've never once been congratulated on my pregnancy.................. Mmmm

Kyna said...

I love English slang. I learned about the differences in usage of 'fanny' awhile back from a friend that lives in Lancashire. My favourite slang word from there is 'minge'. There's a Pepsi bottling factory not too far from here, and on the side of it is the name 'Minges Bottling Group' with a giant Pepsi logo. Had to snap a picture and send it off to my friend lol.

Bangchik said...

It is not the letter C in my language.. haha. Putting up a stoned face is the best approach to handle awkward situation. Huh, as if nothing happens... ~bangchik

Rainforest Gardener said...

Oh, I make that mistake all the time. At my job we have to lock the bathroom doors since people like to smear poo on the walls, look at dirty magazines and operate sex rings. No kidding.

Anyways, every now and then I have to let people in and can't tell if I should let them in the mens room or ladies room... Now I just tell them to meet me at the bathroom door so they can make the decision for me.

If any women ever gets offended by me thinking they're a man, one day I'll just call them out and say "Why do you hate men so much when you wear flannel, and try to mask any indication of being a woman?" Nah, I'll never say that, but it does still perplex me.

Kyna said...

Bangchik: Haha! That's what I should do, but then I open my mouth...vicious circle. :)

RG: Glad to know we're not the only bookstore with shit-smearers and dirty mag readers. There's this young semi-homeless dude (who says he's homeless by choice, even though his mum has money) that hangs out all day long, every day at the store. He lives in a tent in the forest behind the mall.

The other night he was one of the last people in the place. My manager went to go check the bathrooms to see if he was still there before we closed, and he was, the pizza box he was eating from a little while ago was sitting on the floor of the stall he was occupying. I don't even like to walk on the floor of our bathrooms with SHOES ON let alone put a my pizza down there whilst I went to the bathroom.

I don't even think there are locks on the outside doors to the restroom. We have so much customer traffic that this wouldn't be feasible anyway. We'd have to employ a full-time bathroom attendant.

Even so...who decides they want to fingerpaint with excrement whilst they're out shopping???

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Sooo love the Walken poster! :P I had to laugh, but being a Brit, I'm a bit immune to the c-word myself. Because American's seem to take it too seriously, I don't use it anymore. Well, except for the one time some idiot who almost got her cowbell rung after driving me off the highway had me yelling it at her at the top my lungs. She deserved it though. My best friend was in the passenger seat, and she'd served in desert storm, but was mortified as I yelled across the interstate. She's heard me cuss, daily in fact, but she was genuinely horrified that I used the c-word. I can honestly say I have made a sailor blush LOL. You'd think after being in the navy, she'd have heard worse?! BTW, I sooooo want the sympathy belly shirt! :P

Jayne said...

I'm laughing out loud at your post, and then also at the responses. I'm originally from England, but I've lived in the U.S for over half my life so I'm totally americanized and I had forgotten some of the things we used to say in every day language. When I came over here it was like I had to learn a whole new language!

Midwestern Mama Holly said...

It's pretty much a given around here that I'm going to say something stupid or unintentionally insulting. Its my gift..and my curse.

Edith Hope said...

Dear Kyna, I know exactly where you are coming from! I am increasingly tired of having to explain that my 22 year old husband is not my son!! [lol]

Laura said...

I've done that before! Putting your feet in your mouth comes with the retail territory. Sorry someone was such a tool as to ask if you were pregnant. Never a good idea.

Bub said...

I now take the fuck 'em attitude when faced with someone who makes assumptions. It's none of their damn business and I do not have to justify myself to them.

For a while, my eldest daughter and I worked together. Because I was lucky enough to look young for my age I'd often get the incredulous question, "You don't look old enough to have a daughter that age! How old WERE you when she was born?"

While I did view it as a compliment to my youthful looks, I got fed up explaining that I'm older than I look. Once, my daughter was quite miffed when someone got us to stand side by side, turned to his friend and said, "Guess which one's older." She was not happy.

After that, when asked the 'how old was I' question, with a straight face I'd say, "I was 10." That shut people up.

I've said the 'c' word twice in the last few days (once written, once spoken out loud). I was disgusted with myself. I hate that word. Both times, I had to go wash my mouth out. Christmas is a bad, bad word - oh no, I've done it again. Where's the soap?

TerryD said...

Now that was one great post and the first time I've read your blog.

I suffered horribly as a young man from having very childlike looks. This was a disaster for dating or trying to get a drink at a bar. Later, when married this translated into Janice, my wife, repeatedly being asked if I was her son. Worse, they would ask if she was my mother. I'm now 62 and Janice is actually younger than I. She always was. Fortunately I'm ageing disgracefully now and have caught up.

Meredith said...

Kyna, hilarious writing, as always. Maybe the "C" word reaction is a Southern thing? I don't know. I certainly can't stand it, find it an incredibly ugly word, and react rather like it's an insult (see feminist cat, above). I've mostly trained my hubby now not to use it. Learning his English in Europe, he thought it was the *correct* term when we met, resulting in some rather hilarious moments in our courtship. ;) (Use your imagination.)

As for the pregnancy congrats, ooh, I'd be so mad I'd eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry's just to spite her! I pretty much don't mention pregnancy or any other personal details to strangers anymore, having lived abroad for long enough to unlearn this behavior. But it is a rather usual feature of the Southern landscape, I'm afraid. Growing up, I even had strangers advise me on my posture, the inadvisability of wearing glasses, my fashion faux pas, etc.

The classic instance was when I was 15 and a well-meaning woman told me that it wouldn't matter that I wasn't so attractive, because I could easily snare a man with my big boobs. She urged me to arch my back more (and actually put her hand on my back to demonstrate) and to smile confidently -- rather hard to do when your self-confidence has just been popped like a balloon.

Shyrlene said...

Kyna - LOVE the 'Feminist Cat'! Have you ever thought of writing a book, "Musings from the Crystal Coast Gardener" (I think there's some synergy there?!!)

P.S. I wanted to let you know that I put your blog link in my latest post. I was reminiscing about my blog journey so far and this "Blogosphere". It included garden blogs that inspired me!! :) --Shyrlene

Kyna said...

CVF: Haha! I love that you're a fellow Potty Mouth :) Not too many words offend me, pretty much it's relegated to racist words. Racist language pisses me off.

Jayne: It is like a whole other language! In fact, most people in the South say 'speak American' instead of 'speak English' :P

Mama: Hello there! Whoever cursed you must have cursed me too. I fell out of the inappropriate tree and hit every branch on the way down. Swearing all the way :)

Edith: Well, that's what happens when you marry the pool boy. You made your bed, you've gotta lie in it.

With your pool boy. Which I suppose is not so bad.

Laura: That's 'tools' plural lol. Yeah, it really bums me out, I won't lie. But I suppose I should just lose some weight, and then it won't happen.

Bub: Twat was that? I cunt hear you. :P

I suppose that would be quite irritating. My mum had my brother Kevin when she was 16 (and married, she was married People, so it's ok!!) so people who didn't know me always thought Kevin was my dad lol. And then their next thought was 'Wow, you have a hot dad'. :P

Terry: Nice to meet you, hope you'll be back! :D

That's gotta be hard to be a 'baby-faced' man. When you're a chick it's not so bad, because we want to look younger longer. But for men, if you don't have a full beard before the age of 15, something's wrong lol.

Meredith: I always thought of it as a 'North American Female' word hatred thing. Although my friends down here aren't worried about saying it so much because their husbands are in the military. They're immune to it just like I am.

I think there's a difference in how someone uses the word. If someone just says the word 'cunt', it's not offensive to me. If someone calls me one? They'd better start running. Fast.

By the way, you have great boobs.


Shyrlene: If I could quit my job today and just write about my musings, I would be the happiest little redheaded Canadian in the world.

*looks at sidebar* If I wrote a book, only 73 people would read it. Unfortunately, I don't think that would be the most feasible direction for me to take.

Your compliments are always well taken, however. I like to keep them squirreled away for when I'm having a bad day :D