I’m fifty years past my tweens, those years of perpetually-perplexed living. I am an adult. I seldom squabble or complain, behaving hyper-responsibly to problem-solve my own good end. I may have retired from working, but I didn’t retire from thinking.
I’ve encountered a trio of wtf/duh, stupendously stupid replies when I shared a concern conversationally in the past few weeks. Let them alternately amuse, enrage, or amaze you, as they did me:
- After a casual lament about my hair that lapses into ‘hair don’t’ in wet, humid weather, a person said, “Have you tried hair spray?” (Uhm, really. I’m an Aqua Net survivor and Shaper user now.)
- When I recounted the disastrous four months when medical specialists led me through an increasingly deadly series of diagnoses – from plaque buildup in arteries to parathyroid tumor to multiple myeloma (none of which were true) – after a minuscule rise in calcium revealed in routine blood tests, a person said, “Why didn’t you just stop taking calcium supplements?” (what part of listening empathically did she not get – hum, all of it)
- When I indicated that I needed to move our conversation in the tree’s shade, so that I wasn’t standing long in the sun, the person said, “Have you heard about sunscreen?” (no, I adore sunburning and damaging my skin, along with the probability of getting cancer)
To which I should have replied, like my friend Gail suggested: “Are you trying to insult me or are you just stupid?” Apparently it’s a famous line in a movie, but my formative years were instructed by another famous movie line: “If you can say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” So I uttered none of the verbiage in italics.
I did not even think of Gail’s suggested remark. Nor did I bite my tongue’s retort in these undeniably insulting situations. I laughed and laughed and laughed right in the stupid person’s face.
In instances #1 and #3, that is. In instance #2, I swallowed my heart more than my tongue. I thought that I had been sharing with a caring friend…
Or, how do you handle people who give advice as if you were a little kid, undermining your character and intelligence, whether intended or not?