|the Norns, seeing fate|
|plants, seeing fate|
My parents were very strait-laced when it came to doing homework by yourself, keeping your room neat, not hitting people, not dressing like a slut, not cutting classes or skipping school. It was easy to understand the expectations. It was not so easy to distinguish between the requirements to be truthful at all times and to have good manners at all times. We worked on it. But no matter how tactful we tried to be, no matter how tactful I still try to be, there are going to be Those Who Are Miffed. Bernice would have called them "Sensitive Plants." Botanically speaking, a sensitive plant is one which reacts to touch by curling up its leaves in horror and in extreme cases, to hostile stimuli such as me tiptoeing into the room, by dropping its leaves.
There are people like that too, and you never know what's going to set them off. I'm not talking about the quivering shell-shocked old cousin who deserves our thanks and respect as well as our compassion - close the door gently.
No, I'm talking about the people who trudge through life seeking to be offended. Example: Someone asks how come the mashed potatoes taste so good. Here are possible replies:
(1). oh, I don't know, just dumb luck.
(2). my mom's recipe, she'd come back and haunt me if I told.
(3). lots of non-ultra-pasteurized heavy cream and sweet butter.
(4). skim milk and yoghurt.
Which is most likely to be found offensive by a sensitive plant? Answer: all of the above. Which is true? Answer: (3), of course, and when I state a recipe, it's just that, a recipe, not an invitation to discuss the workings of someone's innards.
Another variety of Sensitive Plant is the Shrieking Begrudger. Example: someone you know only slightly recognizes you at the grocery store and cries out, not Hello! but "Why are you wearing a fur jacket to go food shopping?" Possible replies:
(1). The full-length mink hasn't come back from the tailor.
(2). Oh, sorry, didn't have anything better to hand.
(3). I donated all the cloth ones to St Vincent de Paul.
(4). I'm on my way to the opera and wanted to grab a bag of chocolate chips to hide at the bottom of my purse since we won't be having dinner until after.
(5). Isn't everyone? Oh, look, maybe not.
Which is most likely to be found offensive by a sensitive plant? Answer: I sincerely hope, all of the above. Which was true? Answer (4) - something about overtures and recitatives causes cravings.
What have I learned from dealing with the pathologically over-sensitive? Don't waste time on creativity, just tell the truth, they'll be offended anyway. This makes me think, there should be a separate post on telling the truth about money without giving away any real information.
Is it possible to feel envy without being jealous? For the longest time I envied elderly women who wore what they pleased, outrageous hats, glittery brooches, gigantic flower prints, without incurring anything but praise and admiration for having gotten up and out the door. I got up this morning, too, I'd think, and I showered and put on office clothes and got out the door, am I not wonderful? Answer: yes, but not as wonderful as someone whose every breath defies her past, challenges her future, says so what if I wasn't allowed into medical school, I'm still here and get out of my way, I have a lunch date and there's a sale at Saks.
In the presence of women finally set free by age, and enjoying it, I won't curl my fronds or drop my leaves. I'll smile and nod and if my feet aren't killing me I'll offer my seat on the bus. Unless, of course, I sense that the offer might cause offense.