So, this post was inspired by a recent string of tweets by Queen Caitlin Moran (see the picture in my downstairs area). She made a joke about one of those spam messages that delightfully inform us useless internet monkeys how we can do the weight loss thing "with this one simple, weird trick!" This tweet resulted in lots of people not wearing their sarcasm hats that day telling her not to worry, because she was beautiful "on the inside." Ouch.
I bet none of those people meant ill. They just wanted their favourite big-haired purveyor of awesomeness to feel good about herself. It put me in mind of when my sister and I were teenagers, and she asked me that burning question that sits at the very core of every teenaged human being(no, not "Will I ever get laid?"... the other burning question...and anyway, that one doesn't burn your core, the area affected is more specif...fucking hell, what? Shut up! This is why we write ROUGH DRAFTS FIRST, Becky! Get on with it already!). The question slapped me in the face like a cold wet fish. I didn't know what to do with it, and it made me feel shocked and uncomfortable.
"Beck, do you think I'm ugly?"
Oh, Christ. I'm slightly older than you, but still a teenager also, so I can't show you any emotion other than grumpy tolerance. I am convinced that I look like a troll smeared in lard and partially melted, and you look a bit like me -being related and all, so I can tell you that I think you look a bit like me... I hate myself too much to even fully acknowledge what you look like. You're just the thing I huff at when I pass it in the hall right now. But no, now that I'm being forced to uncomfortably rate you on your appearance, I don't think you're ugly. You've got a more angular (translated: less guinea piggish) face than me. You're taller, with nicer hair and boobs that don't disappear when you lie down. You already have a cooler taste in music, all clothes look better on you than me... But now that I realise this, I've decided that I hate you. Nothing personal. So, I can't tell you that I think you're prettier than me. But I can't be outwardly horrible to you, because you're clever enough to figure out that I'm just jealous. Right, okay, I've got it.
"Well, you're not unattractive...."
It was horrible. Brutal, even. She still brings it up from time to time to make me feel like a terrible person. We've since developed what passes for an amicable relationship to the untrained eye, and we can even hug now! The hugging took a long progression of back slaps and awkward head pats before we figured out the sisterly embrace. Key: drink.
Point is, there are just some things, no matter how well intentioned they might be, that you cannot say to people without it coming back to slap you in the face. Some things will always sound backhanded, no matter how they're meant. Here are a few I've learned from experience:
- "Wow, I didn't know I was that strong!": This was a recent one. On a night out, with reflexes I didn't know I possessed (I'm a dropper, not a catcher), I rescued a female friend from a high heeled tumble. That was what I said after she thanked me. Thank fuck she saw the funny side!
- "Don't know why they asked me to do this with you. Because I can spell?": Another recent one. Paired with a girl at work to do a task involving writing and recording some answer phone messages. She's got a lovely answer phoney voice and a working brain, so I wasn't sure why I'd been asked to help do a job she's perfectly capable of nailing solo. What I said was meant as a self depreciating joke. Because I've got an English degree, if they want any write-y stuff done at work, they usually asked me. So I was mocking the uselessness of my degree. Probably not the best joke to make in front of a girl who hasn't long informed me she's dyslexic.
- "You're trying your best!": Encouraging ever? No! Why? Because you're inferring that I'm trying my best, rather than being the best. I am, of course, the best at everything. Why would you hint otherwise? Fucknugget.
- "You're not fat..." Yeah? I'm not thin either, am I? Don't skirt around the subject, wuss! I know what you really meeeeean! *sips on gin and sucks back a sob*
- "Your fringe doesn't look that bad!" Oh Christ, I've got a There's Something About Mary going on, haven't I? I need to go home IMMEDIATELY!! *throws gin over shoulder and flounces home.*
.... I have a deep seated issue with my fringe which has lead to the creation of hairspray-puppet head when I go on nights out. But that's a post and a picture for another time. Because I don't get out much these days. I'm not a great drinker anymore. Nor was I ever... Again, diff post, diff times.
What lesson was I trying to teach you here? Oh, yeah. If someone asks you a question that you don't have the answer they want to hear for it, lie. Lie hard and wholeheartedly, like your life depends on it. At least then, your well intentioned enthusiasm might make up for the fact that you're going to Hell for lying to your loved one in some small way. Basically, you can't really win. Unless you light yourself on fire before you have time to answer. Everyone is distracted by fire. Conversation evaded.