The longer I live the clearer it becomes: people are weird. I don’t mean the kind of weird that everyone used to make fun of in the 90s but is now considered cool. I mean weird like, Did you really just say that? Can you hear yourself? Do you know your audience at all? What kind of adult behaves like that? What’s wrong with you???
To be clear, I know that I can be weird, too. Sometimes my mouth is way ahead of my brain and by the time my brain is aware of what my mouth is saying, it’s too late for my brain to shut it. For example, when I was pregnant with my middle child, a mom asked me if we had selected a name and I said something like, “We have a few in the running. We really like William but we don’t want him to be called Willy. Hate it.” As I was finishing the sentence, that cold, prickly feeling quickly flooded my stomach because I knew just what was coming. She said, “My Dad’s name is Willy.” Of course it was. (It is not lost on me that I’ve just offended some of you. My apologies.)
Once, when my daughter was two, we went to a new friend’s house for a play date. The mom took out a bunch of different containers of Play-Doh and, as she was about to open the first one, I said in a judgmental tone, as if she were the most disgusting person in the world, “This seems like the kind of house where you have to keep the colors separate.” It was. We never went back. It’s too bad, actually. They were lovely people.
Maybe some of you consider this type of behavior to be mean. I guess it’s borderline. But, most of the time, I don’t think it’s done purposely. With myself, I know it’s not. I think most people are just self-involved, tone deaf and sometimes…I’m gonna say it. I’m gonna use the S word…are you ready? Stupid. There, I said it. Stupid. Every one of us is one of these things from time to time and the end result is that we behave weirdly. Why can’t we help ourselves? I don’t know. But I’m happy that I’m not alone. Here are some of my favorite stories (all true) about weird people:
- I live in a big city and you live in the suburbs. You say to me, “We thought about living in the city but it just seems so dirty.”
- I tell you where I’m going for dinner with some friends and you respond, “I don’t like that place. It’s overpriced, the food isn’t that good and the service is bad.” (A) I didn’t ask for your opinion. (B) You’re not coming, so why do you care?
- You and I run into each other on the street. We haven’t seen each other in a while, and we’re genuinely happy to stop and chat for a few minutes. When I have to get going you say, “Can we have lunch soon?” and I say, “Definitely! I’ll send you a few dates when I get home and look at my calendar.” I send you a few dates later that day and I never hear from you again.
- I have leftover maternity clothes and you tell me that you’re pregnant (!). I offer my maternity clothes to you and you respond, “Your maternity clothes would be WAY too big on me.”
- You and I run into each other at a diner. We’re exchanging pleasantries and then you say, in a very accusatory manner, “Why are you dressed so warmly? It’s not that cold!” I don’t understand. Why do you care if I’m wearing a coat? Did it bite you, my coat? Did the very thought of my warmth offend you to the core?
- Once, walking into a movie on Christmas Day, an older woman tried to shove past my husband and me. My husband said, “Please be careful, my wife is pregnant” to which the woman responded, “Well I have cancer!”
- You and I take our kids to the beach. I pull out a towel for my son and you say, “Why did you bring such a big towel?” Note: same person who was offended by my coat.
- At a crowded hair salon there are more people waiting than there are seats, and several women have been standing for quite some time. You have a seat, as does your leather bag. Is it exhausted, your bag, from being carried all day? Has it had a tough time? In fairness, your bag probably cost the equivalent of half a year of private school. But still…
- You and I are waiting on line for deli items at the supermarket. We both have tickets in our hands with numbers on them. Lower numbers get called first. You know how it works. We all do. I was clearly already there when you rolled up with your shopping cart, and therefore my number is going to be called first. When they call my number, you say, “That’s me!” Dude, seriously, you’re not fooling anyone. We’re holding TINY TICKETS in our hands with NUMBERS ON THEM. It’s not a popularity contest. You can’t pretend you didn’t understand. How exactly do you think this is going to play out?
- I meet you for the first time at a birthday party that both of our kids have been invited to. We start chatting and I tell you that I’m a lawyer. You ask me if I work because I want to or because I have to. I grab my child and we run for our lives, because clearly you are a sociopath.*
There are so many more examples of how people are weird. I can’t wait to share more of them with you! Let me know about your experiences with weird humans. Do you have any tips for how not to behave this way, while also not acting like a robot?
*We did not leave the party. That part is fictionalized. But that sociopath is still on the loose.