Sunday, September 21, 2008

Think first...talk later.

" You aren't still going to the laundromat, are you?" It's raining. What else might I be doing on Friday afternoon, between the end of the school day and the football game. . . .here at the laundromat?

What can I say that will redeem your thoughtlessness?

Now, that we have gotten THAT out of the way....

Among the many things I do, I teach. A really important lesson is "THINK before you speak." (...or you may sound very stupid, or hurt someone's feelings.) We tell them the "think before..." part, and hope they figure out that they will sound stupid or hurt someone. Being a successful adult requires this basic skill, or you could get fired or sued or something harshly grown-up. I spend a good bit of each day grappling with the idiotic and thoughtless words of the adolescent crowd. Also, of some adults.

"Gosh, I hope my kid doesn't major in education. What a dead end job. He'll never make any money and there's no future."
Thanks, I'll remember that when I'm grading your child's paper.

A few more phrases need to be stricken from the vernacular of grown ups. We just don't need to be saying these things. Ever.

"I'm saving this seat."
6th and 7th graders are particularly concerned about who sits with whom (Yes, thank you for asking, I did pause to consider who or whom). So, they want to 'save seats'. We do not let them save seats, because
  • it's rude
  • it leaves people out
  • it's quite rude
  • it causes a lot of wandering and spilling of trays
  • it's so rude
  • it makes 6th graders cry . . . especially the boys
  • it's really very rude

Imagine my surprise when I was told ...by grown women...that they were 'saving this seat' - and not for their elderly mother who is coming to see this one single football game or a small child. No, seats were being saved for other regular parents, who just hadn't made it yet. On one single evening, I was told twice that I couldn't sit down IN THE FOOTBALL STANDS because the "seat was saved." Seriously? Ladies, look around, there are plenty of seats. I moved - though I was directed to a seat a row down, with the assurance that they would "still talk to me." Seriously. What are you going to say? Are you going to tell me who is rumored to be going steady? Perhaps we will pass notes? Maybe we could make a little club, and decide who we are NOT going to ask to join. I did not cry, because I am not in 6th grade.

And then, imagine my suprise again, at CHURCH no less, when I was asked to move so that another woman and her friend could sit together. These are two grown women. Seriously grown - over 40 - WAY over 40. It happened twice. The second time by a grown woman who arrived 20 minutes late, with 6 adults and wanted me to move so all 7 could sit together. In a church with no fewer than 150 empty seats. Seriously? Are you for real? I moved. I left, laughing. Sort of.

So you are bound to be wondering if I smell or have a horrible communicable disease. I am wondering the same thing.

"Let's all get on the same page.

If you must, just go ahead and say, "We're doing this my way." It means "Don't mess with me, I want total domination." When your boss wants 'everyone is on the same page' it actually means "Which one of you cowboys is not doing what I said?" When you are in a conference, hypothetically a parent teacher conference, and the 'same page' phrase is uttered, trouble is brewing. Trust me, I sit on both sides of the table in parent teacher conferences. Nothing good is coming when you are "getting on the same page."

The whole "same page" image is so lame, anyway. We were saying "same page" with great wit when we had big hair and big shoulder pads. Get creative. If you want to sound all fundamental old-time religion, say "Singing from the same hymnbook." If you want to pretend like you are still in college, try "drinking from the same keg". If you are musical, or want people to think you are, try "playing from the same score." Sporty? How about "using the same playbook"? Cultish? "Drink the same kool-aid" Native American imagery? "Smoking the same peace pipe." Uber-christian? "Kneeling at the feet..." (oops, no farther, I don't do the lingo.) Cars? "hitting on all cylinders" Oh, you want to sound threatening? Then use "on the same page."

Do you think it would be OK if I wear my new expensive brand jeans to ____ (insert event)? Or will I look stupid? It doesn't matter how you LOOK, it sounds ridiculous coming from a woman with children in college. It's all about you and your jeans, or your purse, or your shoes. I actually think that you have no sense, if you cannot figure out what to wear to any given occasion. Grown-ups get to decide what to wear and when to wear it. Usually without a lot of input from other grown-ups. Also, I shop, so I don't need to you tell me how much you spend on clothes.

The single important exclusion is some particular dads who need desperately to ask what to wear every single time they leave the house, unless they are wearing a suit. With the tie picked out by someone else."Is that your Young Son sitting on the bench?" No, actually it's not. It's a couple of big, beastly kids who are tired from playing the whole game. The live tackling-dummies stand up the whole game, helmets in hand. But perhaps thinking before speaking might apply here. Nothing good ends with "sitting on the bench."

"Did you change your hair? It looks so cute! You look 10 years younger!" 10 years younger than what? The unspoken is "because your hair has been looking gray and frizzy and you've been looking pretty old and un-cute." Where are we going here? Grown-ups are supposed to be thinking before speaking.
Have you lost weight...or something? There is just no happy ending for this conversation. Am I fat? Was I fat? How about, "I KNOW I'm fat."

How many calories do you think are in that corn dog? Especially don't say this when I am eating a corn dog.

3 comments:

kikibibi said...

Ann you are too much!

Here's a favorite of mine: when you stand in line at the sandwich shop, finally get up to the counter to order, and the kid behind the counter says "Are you all set?" Hello no I'm not "all set!" If I was "all set" I would not be standing in front of you trying to order, I'd be sitting down eating my dang sandwich.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Telling it like it is today are we?
That was good! I laughed at some, and others made me shake my head in agreement.
Jen

Migraine Mom said...

Love it! You are soooo right with all of the above! the saving seat thing drives me bonkers!!!