When I was younger and went to salons to get my hair cut, a typical stylist would often frown while looking at my hair as if she’d never seen such an atrocity, and then ask in a tone implying I should be thoroughly ashamed to be walking around publicly, “Who cut your hair last?”
One day a stylist went through those motions and snottily asked that very question. I answered honestly, “You did.”
Shut her up.
It’s very odd when you begin to see your peers die from their habits. A whole new terrain. I knew a bright, charismatic, albeit troubled man, who drank and smoked, heavily. I remember thinking (privately) that it was a race to see which would kill him first. One tried and the other finished the job. I miss him. I can’t abide waste and I really hate it in people.
The scene: Dinner at a restaurant
ME: "I think you avoid things."
HIM: "I'm going to the salad bar."
I’ve been sick for 2 weeks and that kinda ran me down so I’m not quite at my sharpest. I’m hoping that’s the reason, anyway, for why I tried to scrub sunlight off the carpet.
While passing through the living room, I am surprised and a little appalled to see a lone, egg-shaped, white splotch on the green-toned carpet. I briefly consider that it is sunlight but dismiss the idea because a) I’ve never seen it before, b) its shape is odd, and c) it looks so white. Oh geez! In one of my recent painting projects, have I spilled white paint and simply not noticed till now? I really should be more careful.
I set about scrubbing the stain with my go-to spot cleaner, a little soap and an old toothbrush. It’s been weeks since I last used white paint, and it’s totally dried into the fibers. It’s not looking any better, is it? Well, maybe the fact it’s near a flower in the design will help conceal it. Darn.
I go on about my business until a little while later when I again pass through the room. The. spot. has. moved. Now it is nowhere near a flower. To my slight credit, I immediately understand I have been scrubbing sunlight. But for the small damp area, I can pretend this never happened.
I don’t know if it was always this way, but in the U.S. we seem to view our presidents like a strange combination of Daddy, God, and Santa Claus.
Who will ever live up to that?
Some people don’t relate, they perform. You are but an audience member to them. What you might have to say or add is of little or no interest, unless it’s a springboard they can use.
Who are they? They’re the ones who aren’t really looking at you – searching your eyes and face the way someone does when they are engaged and engaging – except perhaps to make sure you’re being a good audience member. Their eyes look past you and through you. Should you open your mouth other than to make appreciative noises, they cut you off mid-sentence. If other people are around or enter into their sphere of vision, you, the good audience member, can be disregarded and tossed aside pronto, forgotten in favor of fresh
But it’s not always so obvious. A couple years ago I was having a conversation with a man I didn’t know too well but who I believed was genuinely interested in talking with me. Conversation was going along okay, when he launched into a story with dramatic and funny bits, or bits I knew he intended as funny and dramatic. As I listened a thought appeared clearly in my mind: [He’s told this story before. Probably exactly this way. Many times.] My opinion of the conversation we were having dropped a few notches while my insincerity radar heightened.
It isn’t that I think everyone is obligated to offer only original commentary or stories at all times. The older someone gets, the harder it is to not repeat things said before. It takes concerted effort not to rely on shtick or what’s been favorably received in the past. And I know a degree of self-conciousness, insecurity, or social anxiety might make a person want to rely on the tried and true (and not take any risks). My issue is with someone who chooses performing over relating when it isn’t necessary, cutting short – if they even let start – a genuine interaction where two people play and build off, one another’s words and ideas. Where nobody is assigned the role of audience member.