We’ve all had those moments … someone either said or did something really ignorant to us, and we were so shocked that it rendered us temporarily mute. We say nothing, or we mumble something unsatisfactory. Later on, when we think about it, we kick ourselves, thinking: Damn, I wish I’d said that!
I have so many examples of this phenomenon in my life. I’m one of those people who’s pretty articulate on paper (or computer screen), but verbally … not so much. As much ignorant behaviour as I have seen in my life, it still startles me when I witness it. I just can’t fathom man’s inhumanity to man at times, and it leaves me temporarily speechless. There have been a few odd times when I was blessedly sharp-witted and sharp-tongued and managed to deliver an appropriate response, but for the most part, I get tongue-tied.
Here are just a couple of examples of incidents where I wish I would have been more verbally effective:
I was at my doctor’s office for a physical about a year ago. He’s been my doctor for ages, and I’ve never really liked him (you’ll see why). One of the first things he asked me (as usual) was: “What about your weight?” I always feel like I’m on the defensive with him. I said, “I walk every day, and I eat as healthy as possible.” Then he looks at me and says, “You can’t go on like this.” For a moment, I felt like I was an actor in a bad Spanish soap opera. I just sat there mute, feeling chastised. What was even funnier was that after the physical, when he checked my blood pressure, breathing, heart, blood and urine, etc. … everything was fine. I was in perfect health. He’s one of those doctors who thinks that losing weight is the answer to everything.
What I wish I’d said: You know, I’ve been coming to this office for decades, and it’s always the same. You constantly bring up my weight. If I’m so unhealthy, then why did my tests come out normal? Get educated and go to some seminars on treating patients of size. You obviously need some direction.
Another incident that comes to mind occurred a couple of years ago, when me and my family went on a trip to
. My husband wanted to go see Yankee Stadium (he’s a die-hard Yankee fan), and my daughter and I were not interested. We decided that me and my daughter would go to the New York City and meet him in a couple of hours. We took the subway and got off, needing to find our way to Fifth avenue. I wasn’t sure which way to go when we were on the street, and I spotted a couple of ladies sitting on a bench a few feet away from us. One was old, the other young. They looked like a mother and daughter. I went over to them and very politely said, “Hello ladies, how are you? Could you please tell me how to get to Fifth avenue?" They looked at me, and the older one in particular looked at me like I was an alien. They pointed in a certain direction and then the older one said, “It’s pretty far,” in this warning tone of voice. “No problem, we don’t mind walking,” I said. Then she said, with this disapproving look on her face, “It’ll do you good.” I was fucking furious, and it was on the tip of my tongue to really let her have it with a few cuss words, but my daughter was with me, so I just turned around and left. My daughter knew something about the encounter was not right and looked up at me, saying, “What did she say, mommy?” I just brushed it off, saying nothing, but then she said, “That was rude!” I just said, “C’mon, let’s go,” and tried to act like it didn’t bother me … but inside I was fuming, and it bothered me for quite awhile afterward. Metropolitan Museum
What I wish I’d said: Did you hear me ask for your opinion on my health? No … I asked for directions. You are one rude bitch.
Since starting this blog, I’ve become more comfortable with defending myself and others against ignorant and rude people, and I’ve become much more articulate and outspoken than I used to be. Still, I do have those moments when I wish my brain wouldn’t hit pause and be able to instantly deliver all the great responses I have in my mental arsenal. It’s still a work in progress, though.