Real?

realman

There’s a picture going around on social media right now of an attractive young couple walking together on a city sidewalk. The man is dressed in long pants, t-shirt, and warm jacket. The woman wears stilettos and a sleeveless, lightweight dress with a high slit up one thigh. She is obviously cold and miserable, but he seems happy and comfortable.

The caption says “Any real man will spot the problem in this picture.”

Okay. I’m not a man, but I like to think I’m somewhat real. On good days, anyway. I looked at the picture and saw the problem right away: The woman is an idiot who has no idea how to dress appropriately for the weather.

As I read the comments below the picture, however, I realized that this was not the answer they were looking for. Almost every person answered that the man should have given his coat to the woman.

Folks, I think I just figured out why I’m still single.

As several people suggested, we don’t know what took place before the picture was snapped. Perhaps she forgot her coat. Perhaps the weather changed after she left the house. If we’re looking at real-life possibilities, it’s also possible that the man told her they were going out somewhere nice for dinner but his idea of “nice” turned out to be hot dogs and beer at a hockey game. We don’t know.

What I do know is that my sisters and I were raised by a single mom and our father’s four unmarried sisters. There were few men in our lives, “real” or not. If we dressed stupidly, there were no men around to gallantly offer us their coats. We shivered, complained a lot, and remembered to wear a coat the next time out.

Well, that’s what my sisters did. My learning curve has always been more of a straight line, so I don’t have a great track record or learning from my mistakes.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand why any man, “real” or not, should be expected to freeze his biscuits because he had to give his coat to a woman who was just too stupid to wear one of her own. Sure, a true gentleman might offer her his coat, but I don’t believe he should be required to do so simply because of his gender.

I guess I’m just too logical on things like this. I was married for almost eighteen years, and my ex-husband is still a really good guy. So let’s say, just for snicks, that it was him and me walking down the street in that picture. First, he would have been laughing at me for trying to stumble along in stilettos, so let’s not even discuss the shoes.

But if I were all hunched over and shivering like that, I like to think he’s the kind of guy who would offer me his coat. He’d make fun of me first, but he’d offer. And you know what? I’d say no.  Not out of pride or stubbornness, but because I cared about him enough to not want to see him suffer. I wouldn’t want to be nice and warm and toasty while someone I love is cold and miserable.

Good heavens, I think I just realized I might be a man.

I like it when a man treats me like a lady. I like it when he opens a door for me or pulls out my chair for me. I love it when he offers to carry my bags for me if they are too heavy. And yes, I’d be thrilled if he offered me his coat on a cold and blustery day when I was too dumb to wear my own jacket.

But I don’t expect a man to do any of those things. It’s not any man’s job or responsibility to do so.

I don’t think that makes me a  militant feminist or whatever. I think it makes me a grown-up.

I have two sons and a daughter. I have tried to teach my sons to treat women with respect as equals, not as fragile little flowers. I hope my boys would both offer their coat or open the door or hold out the chair, but not because they think a woman can’t do any of those things for herself. I hope they do it because they are kind young men who treat all other human beings with respect and dignity.

Of course, these are the same boys who laugh at their own farts, so I have my concerns.

My daughter, on the other hand, has been taught to do all those things for herself as well as for anyone whomight need help, male or female. If a man offers her his coat or opens the door, she’s been taught to say “thank you” rather than simply accept it as her due simply because of her gender.

She, of course, laughs at her own belches, so I have some concerns there as well.

So if you see me walking down the street some winter day in a sleeveless, lightweight dress and I look cold and miserable, please don’t assume that some cad didn’t give me his coat. Assume that I’m a dummy who forgot to watch the weather report.

And then, if you feel like it, go ahead and offer me your coat. I’ll probably say no.

Unless it’s my size and dark purple. I’ve always wanted a purple coat.

 

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Facebook Rant #2

I discovered Facebook when my youngest child was just a baby and I had finally returned to work.  One of the other girls in the salon showed me how to set up an account, but I wondered at the time if I wasn’t too old to be getting involved in something like that.

It’s been five years now, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m hooked.  Oh, I tell everyone it’s all about monitoring the kids and their friends, or networking for my writing career, or helping me keep abreast of school and athletic events.

Sure.

Okay, I’ve reconnected with old friends that I hadn’t talked to since high school.  I’ve found relatives who had drifted out of my life.  I’ve even found relatives I didn’t know I had!  I’ve got a fan page for my blog and my books, and I’ve even managed to buy and sell household items through a garage sale “page” on Facebook.  And it’s a great way to share pictures with relatives that I don’t see as often as I’d like.

But guys, we need to talk.

Parents, think before you shame your kid on Facebook.  Seriously, I am so appalled when I see mothers who get on their page to rant and rave about how lazy their kids are, or how ungrateful, or whatever.  Sure, we all feel that way about our kids sometimes, but how disrespectful is it to use your computer to tell the world such terrible things about your own flesh and blood!  Think about it:  if a fellow teenager dedicates 4-5 status updates per day calling Little Johnny a lazy bastard or an ungrateful little jerk, wouldn’t we jump all over that teenager for bullying Little Johnny?  And yet Little Johnnies all over the world have parents who do the same thing nearly every day and never think twice.

Here’s another way to think about it.  Let’s say Little Johnny gets on Facebook and calls his mother lazy or ungrateful.  Maybe he insults her cooking, too, because that’s just the kind of kid Little Johnny is.   Most likely, he’s going to be disciplined for disrespecting his mother on Facebook, right?

So why does his mom think it’s okay for her to disrespect him on Facebook?

And don’t argue with someone else’s kid on Facebook.  Adults should act like adults.

I also see people complaining about their jobs and co-workers.  Seriously, guys, you realize that you can get fired for that, right?  You really want to call your boss a name?  Okay, call him “Ex-boss” because that’s what he’ll be after he fires your stupid ass for gossiping about your job on Facebook.

And come on, guys; everybody knows who you mean when you refer to someone as “you-know-who” or respond to comments with “Send me a message; I’ll tell you who it is.”  I recently unfriended a woman because she was constantly kvetching about “that one certain person” in vague terms and I couldn’t get past my concern that she was referring to me.  Okay, so I’m a bit paranoid at times, but it was downright creepy.

Then of course, there’s my personal favorite:  women who slam their husband or boyfriends on Facebook.  I’m sure there are men who do this too, but I see so much more of it with my women friends than with my guy friends.  A woman will have a fight with her husband and then go on Facebook to announce to the world that he’s a cheater, an abuser, a gambler, an alcoholic, or whatever.    She begs for pity, getting hundreds of supportive comments reassuring her that she’s a strong and beautiful woman.  Her friends cluster around to agree that she’s too good for the guy, and sling around more insults about him.

Half the time, the poor guy didn’t even know they were having a fight when he left for work that morning.

I guess what I’m saying is that some people just have no common sense about what is and isn’t okay to air on Facebook.  Girls, nobody cares about your period or how long it’s been since you’ve had sex.  We don’t want to know  that you have a yeast infection.  Guys, we don’t care that your balls itch.  Just shut up, turn around, and scratch them, for God’s sake.  Don’t make a public announcement on Facebook that your freaking balls itch.

Ladies, if your man just cheated on you or beat the crap out of you, leave him.  Call the cops if you must.  Don’t get on Facebook to tell the world you caught him screwing the neighbor, or post pictures of your black eye and busted lip.  Rather than bitch about the situation, change the situation.

And Moms, think about what you are about to say about your own child.  Would you slap the stupid out of your own kid for saying that about you?  Then don’t say it about him.  Common sense, people.  Before you get out there and post a rant about your kid’s coach or teacher for all of your 600+ Facebook friends to see, take a second to wonder if that coach or teacher might not be offended and perhaps take it out on your kid.  In short, if you insist on calling the coach a dick all over Facebook, don’t expect your kid to get much playing time.

It’s been a rough couple of days here, obviously.   I am in a bad mood.  People are pissing me off, and that just never works out well for anyone.

So come on, everybody.  Talk to me.  What are some of the worst things that you see people do on Facebook?  What really ticks you off?

If . . . Then

Okay, boys and girls, it’s time for Mama A.J.’s Words of Wisdom (aka Ten Things That Are Pissing Me Off).

  1. If you call in sick but feel good enough to spend your day on Facebook talking about how sick you are, then shut up and go to work.
  2. If you can drive yourself to the ER to get shots of pain meds for your Migraine, then chances are good that you don’t really need the shots.
  3. If you get Disability for a “bad back” but get cash for doing roofing jobs “on the side”, then you are slime.
  4. If you get Disability for Narcolepsy but can still get a Driver’s License, then our system is totally screwed up.
  5. If you get Food Stamps and WIC but can afford $300 extensions and bi-weekly gel manicures, then we have a problem.
  6. If you have lost a lot of weight and you feel the need to whine and wheeze about how hard life is now that you are skinny, then shut the hell up and eat a damn cheeseburger.
  7. If you bitch about your employer and co-workers on Facebook and you are surprised when you get fired for it, then you are an idiot.
  8. If you use social media to make public announcements about private matters, then you forfeit the right to tell anyone to mind their own business.
  9. If you post your writing on a public site and bawl like a little baby the instant someone doesn’t praise you, then don’t post your work on a public site.  Hang it on your mommy’s refrigerator and get a new pacifier.
  10. If you can’t remember the last time you said something that wasn’t a complaint, then suck it up, Snowflake.  We’re tired of hearing it.

Of Porcupines and Ducks

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My mom used to call them “Prickly Days”.  Those days when one of us was just feeling defensive or particularly put-upon, when our response to everything was a snarl or a snap.  A conversation on one of those days might go as follows:

Mom:  Good Morning!

Me: What’s that supposed to mean?

Mom:  Just . . . good morning. 

Me:  You always loved (insert random sibling) more!  Stop picking on me!

Prickly.  Like an angry little porcupine.  Don’t touch. Don’t speak.  Don’t try to smooth things over.   Just walk away.  Do not pass Go; do not collect $200.

Lately, it seems as though the entire world is having “Prickly Days” and they are using social media to express themselves.  I have to wonder if it doesn’t sometimes take an extreme effort to be so very offended by every tiny, seemingly innocuous comment made by some random celebrity, and then spout off about it online.

For example, look at the reaction to Justin Bieber’s recent comments in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House.  He wrote:  “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” 

Now, that was a really stupid thing to say.  It comes across as a bit of self-promoting fluff that trivializes everything that Anne Frank went through.     But is it bad enough to warrant the hate-filled ranting and raving, the angry demands for a public apology?

Let’s face it; he’s a kid who said a dumb thing.  If people can just calm down for a moment and stop being angry long enough to consider the intent behind his vapid scribble, can anyone really, possibly believe that he truly intended to be so disrespectful?  Or did he just have a stupid moment?

A less notorious–and far less stupid –example of this rush to be offended involves my current celebrity crush.  On February 7, Randolph Mantooth posted the following Tweet:

“I swear! There’s some ignorant, intolerant, crazy ass people in the world 2day & they all seem 2 B on Facebook & Twitter.”

Oh, come on, is anybody really surprised that I follow him on Twitter?

Personally, I think it’s a pretty funny Tweet.  I rather agree with it most days.  I clicked “favorite” and moved on after a good chuckle.

But a few weeks later, he had to address the issue in his blog on his site, Route51, because apparently people were offended by the comment.  It was interpreted as an insult against anyone without a high school education.

Just how hard do you have to squint to see that in his comment?  How much effort does it take to be offended by that?

In a post titled “What I Said” Mantooth defends himself by saying:

“If you read the tweet, you’ll know I never said anything about anyone’s education. . . . Look…. One of the smartest people in my life only made it through the 8th grade. …My father! With only a high school education, my mother successfully raised 4 kids as a waitress… by herself!”

Again, let’s look at the intent behind the words.  Does anyone really believe it was his intent to criticize the educational background of anyone, anywhere?  Or was it more likely the off-the-cuff comment of a man having a frustrating day?

The incident that prompted me to speak up about this outbreak of Let’s-Be-Offended-By-Everything-Syndrome is something that happened yesterday.  In response to the horrific events that took place in  Boston, actor/comedian Patton Oswalt posted some touching words of hope on his Facebook page.  I was never really a fan of his before, but I am now.

In six brief but eloquent paragraphs, Oswalt talks about the bombs and reminds us that the people committing these atrocities are “not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet” and goes on to point out that videos of the carnage show more people running toward the injured than away from the danger.

In the final paragraph, Oswalt says:

“So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’ “

Now, how in God’s name could anyone possibly find that offensive?  But looking at the comments people have made below his words of wisdom, is enough to shake one’s faith in humanity.

Some criticise him for using profanity.  Okay, so I probably wouldn’t have opened with the f-bomb; but Oswalt’s word choice has the desired effect of grabbing our attention.  And I don’t know about anyone else, but I know I dropped the f-bomb, as well as a lot of other foul words, as I watched the events unfold on TV.  I can’t think of a better way to sum up what happened in Boston than with his words:  “Boston.  Fucking horrible.”

Worst of all are the idiots who blast him for being overly patriotic, for over-simplifying the situation, or for using the situation for political means.

He did none of those things.

He reached out to the rest of us to offer encouragement and reassurance that the world is, after all, not such a terrible place.    He did a good thing; his intent was to offer hope and comfort.  I think he succeeded, but even if others don’t agree, they should at least manage to not be offended.

When I was a kid and I would come home crying because someone had been picking on me yet again, my Aunt Marian would tell me to “toughen up” and “let if roll off, like water off a duck’s back”.  God, how I hated those phrases!  I wanted to feel the hurts and wallow in my anger;  I wanted to go right on being a prickly porcupine and take offense at every little thing.  I didn’t want to be a duck.

Then I grew up.

Folks, it’s time to put on the grown-up undies and stop being so easily offended by every little thing.  It’s fine to get angry.  Be angry that someone set off bombs at the Boston Marathon.  Be offended by acts of terrorism.  Get pissed off because we have to be afraid of another Oklahoma City or 9/11 or Boston.

But don’t waste your time being offended over the tiniest of issues.

Is it worth getting worked up over a thoughtless comment made by some bubblegum  teen idol?  Or because of the irritated tweet made by a man who has spent forty years using his fame to support  and promote EMS workers everywhere?  Is it even humanly possible to take offense at the touching words of hope offered up by a man who stopped being a comedian long enough to reach out to his fellow human beings?

I have one thing left to say.

Quack.