Why are women so mean?
I walk into the skin care center, resolute. I am being the responsible adult, taking care of a suspicious spot near my collarbone. I have to protect my skin constantly, having had one spot show up as a squamous cell cancer. Caution and protocol rule my life. I quit tobacco years ago, eat organic as much as possible, stay out of the sun from 10:00 to 3:00, and wear protective clothing.
I check in, fill out the update forms and wonder if the pen at the front desk has germs on it. There is no hand gel. I take a seat nearest the front desk, across from an elderly woman with permed auburn hair. She averts her eyes as I smile and say, “This must be the in place. Everybody’s getting skin spots checked out.” Silence. The lady scowls at me, adjusts her purse and rummages through it. No response. She detests me. The five other women in the waiting room keep their gazes on magazines and phones. Deadpan nothing. Not a glance, not a smile, not a knowing look of camaraderie. I sit there a moment regarding Miss Sourpuss and the others.
Is it my breath?
I look over my blandly sensible outfit looking for garish stains. No. Oh well, they hate me because they are women. They hate themselves. That’s what my husband would say. They are worried about cancer, so they won’t even give so much as a nod and a smile. Are things that bad? Nothing personal.
This is what I get for moving away from a small town where everybody knows your business and it takes an hour to get through the grocery store for all the greeting and chatting.
I flash back to a similar scene during the wait for breast cancer screening. Nobody talks. All the ladies transition into wearing white robes and are offered bottled water-in plastic. Aren’t plastic bottles supposed to be bad for you? When you make the appointment, they ask about your religious preference with a syrupy “we’re here for you” spiel that changes when they take your payment.
I continue to sit and look at the ladies. That’s when I notice they are all trim, about the same size, a sensible 8 or 10, petite. I will never be that size-well maybe if I make it to age 95. No biggies. All Anglo. Small-breasted. Tight. They all look the same to me, except the older woman, because of the henna in her hair, which gives it a coppery look.
The tighter they are, the meaner they are. I notice that at the gym. Severe. It’s like they’re afraid you are going to sneak out of the gym, steal their husband, or potential boyfriend (s), or girlfriend, and run away to the Bahamas with him. Even if you have gray hair, aren’t all tan and tone, you’re still a threat?
I adjust my position in my chair so my chichis, which, in my maturity, are now like watermelons and need to be comfortable. But hey, they’re mine and I still have them and I want to be a nice person in a waiting room.
Maybe the ladies are afraid I’m a talker. Or a stalker? What?
I take out my Kindle and pretended to read.
Thoughts of a computer tech teacher at the community college cross my mind. I never met him, but my hubby had taken his classes and raved. The teacher, wheelchair bound, is morbidly obese, supposedly had a near death experience, as well as an illness. My husband doesn’t know what the health problem is. Men never ask those personal questions. BUT, (you were waiting for that, right?) he is one of the most proficient instructors in the city, in fact he runs the computers for technology for the city. His knowledge is Googlish.
Here’s the hook: He demands complete classroom etiquette. His rule is no gossip. No talking about other students, no words of contempt for other teachers, no bad cross talk. Ever. You start gossiping or bad-mouthing about someone or something and you’re out.
Upon hearing about the big guy, I’m astonished and cheer for joy. I listen to the hubby respectfully for over fifteen minutes because of the story.
Really? He really does that? No gossip? Wow. I LOVE that man!!!!
My thoughts are interrupted as the nurse calls my name and I complete the examination process. It isn’t cancer. They zap the spot. Thank you, thank you, thank you God. I’ll never judge mean people again.
When I leave the office, I notice the women talking to each other.
Journal prompt: Go to a public area and observe people. Write down everything you notice. If you don’t want to appear as if you are taking notes, pretend you are doing homework. Works every time. Since people are always on the phones, nobody notices anyway.
Discussion: Try observing people in different locations. I used to listen to the men talking at the gym while I was waiting for my husband. They often left the outside door open to the locker room so I could easily hear their banter. I noticed that the men talk more easily than women, but if prompted women may want to get into conversations…but not often. My experience with women in a gym was truly amazing. The women were so mean, it made me even more self-conscious than I already am, and then later, less interested in going at all. I mean I’m not there to socialize, I get it. No excuses. Do you think appearance has any bearing on friendliness? Do you think geographic location has anything to do with eagerness to talk? What about gender? Do people gossip openly about others?
Would you rather be left alone in a public place or do you greet people?
copyright © 2014 Susan E Rowland