My nine year old son started school recently and, as usual, I took the day off from work. First day of school is a half day. I like to pick him up after school and spend the afternoon with him, to help with the transition back. It’s our little tradition.
After I dropped him off in the morning, I headed to the gym for the first time in a month. As I worked out my legs, a man I hadn’t seen in a while approached me. He’s one of those guys you try to avoid because he loves to talk your ear off. Before you know it, a half hour has gone by and you’ve done nothing but listen to him ramble on when you should have been working out. However, given the fact that I had three hours to spare before I needed to pick up my son, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to be friendly.
That was my first mistake.
At one point in the mostly one-sided conversation, he asked me how old I was. I told him, and watched his eyes widen with what I like to think was disbelief, but the truth is he appeared to recoil from me, as if I’d just told him I had leprosy. Then he said the dumbest thing imaginable, Well, you don’t look as good as you used to. I mean, you don’t need to lose weight, but you could use some toning up. Your skin’s not bad, though, no crow’s feet or anything.
I sat in stunned silence, before making my second mistake. I told him I’d lost close to 15 pounds since last year. To which he responded with the even dumber, I can’t believe you let yourself go like that.
What a dumb ass. That’s what I wanted to say to him. That’s what I wanted to title this post, but decided against it. This guy knew nothing about me or why I’d gained the weight, during a stressful period in life while I was working full-time, pursuing a master’s degree, and dealing with some major family issues. (And yes, numbing myself with cheese and crackers and wine too many nights, and not exercising, but what business is that of his?) Yet he had the audacity to think he could comment on my appearance, on my body!
Instead, I politely said that I had to pick up my son soon from school and needed to get on with my workout. He left me and went to accost another unsuspecting female. If only I’d had the courage to tell him what I thought of his dumb remarks, though it probably wouldn’t have mattered. I doubt he would have fully understood how dumb they really were.
How do you handle it when someone says something dumb or inappropriate to you?