Confessions of a 40-Something (2)
Getting older can be a great comfort. However, I am not writing to talk about those—the comforts. I want to confess, and not only for myself. I confess for all the 40 somethings! Is that possible?
Over the years there are some things that I have allowed and behaviors I exhibited because I could. Whether it is by age, gender, or ethnicity, I have learned that there are social norms that allow us a pass (a get out of jail free card) in many everyday situations. This series is about my observations of social etiquette--how I have taken advantage of it!
If we perpetuate a culture of respect for adults in general, when we get to that status we will have paved the way for respect and difference in our favor.
Cultivating Respect for Elders is a Function of Karma
You have heard that it has been said of old time that the young should respect their elders. I say to you now that I agree! That social standard saved me a beating! Why is it important to respect the elderly--adults period? Besides the fact that we are old, adults help to move society in the right direction. Many people may disagree with the way the politics in many nations are going--'specially the US!
It is true, however. The way our society treats its adults, especially the seniors, is an indication of our self-preservation and forethought. All of us who do not die young will live old! If we perpetuate a culture of respect for adults in general, when we get to the status (as I have) we will have paved the way for respect and difference in our favor.
I recall using my youngish features to infiltrate a small group of youth to see if they would reveal something uncanny about themselves that I could use. I remember being a youth and expected some bad language and behavior. I did not lie about my age. I dressed in a youthful manner and engaged the group as I appeared: a young teen boy.
Apparently, the conversation grew nasty at one point and one very large and scary teen decided that I was not welcomed to the group. I realized that this boy intended to harm me; so, I did what any self-respecting person would do facing a teen from whom he could not defend himself without going to jail (and a hospital). I screamed, "I'm an adult! I'm a dad!"
It was a long shot. But, it worked! The kid stopped advancing towards me and all the venom left his face. I explained who I was and reintroduced myself. The fact that I am an adult changed the nature of my interaction with the kids because of the social standards with which they were reared.
They became affable again. As often as I hear people complain about the disrespectful kids, I am fortunate that the lot I fell with were very respectful. I don't recall who the big kid was; but, I am glad his mother taught him to respect his elders--even if they don't look like elders sometimes! I am also glad that I respected my elders as a teen. Karma was in my favor that day--never mind the reason I was doing that spying in the first place!
Would you disagree with this guy to his face?
Proper social behavior demands self-control. Self-control prevents wars!
It is not polite to say EVERYTHING that pops into your head.
Not everything is about lessons learned as an adult pretending to be a youth. Being young and suffering through an experience is a necessary evil. To this very day, one of the most embarrassing things occurred when I took a playful situation too far!
A young professional wrestler as large as the Mountain from Game of Thrones and I were having a conversation. Okay, he wasn't a professional wrestler, but he was a state champion wrestler; and he was an extremly large and muscular man!
He showed me a picture of a guy with long hair that looked just like him and said, "This is my brother."
I regarded the picture noticing how manly they both looked, though I did not say it aloud. The guy then said, "I'm just kidding. It's my sister."
Now, this guy and I had been associating with each other for weeks. One thing that I did not like about him was that he never gave a straight answer about things. He always had some JOKE to tell! I was not about to let him irritate me again with this!
Reader, never say everything that pops into your head. Not only because it can put you in a fighting situation, but also because speaking before thinking can really hurt someone unexpectedly. Proper social behavior demands self-control. Self-control prevents wars!
So, the guy starts insisting that the picture of him with long hair is his little sister and I became more agitated at him trying to pull the wool over my eyes. I had had it!
"If that's a woman," I said. "That is the UGLIEST woman I have ever seen in my LIFE!" I cocked my head to the side and looked at him waiting for him to say he was only kidding, anyway. He did not. His eyes grew moist as he blinked back some tears.
As imposing as this guy was physical, when I realized I had hurt his feelings and spoken ill of an actual woman, I died a little inside. Instead of bench pressing me into oblivion as he could have, he apologized for playing around in the first place. The lesson I learned is it is proper to always be cautious when speaking. I could have easily keep my statements limited to "I believe you are trying to trick me."
He could have avoided using his sister as a way to joke around. We both learned proper etiquette that day.
Some things are better left unsaid.
My experience with the female species is limited to the several thousand that I have met and the relatively few with whom I have associated. Culturally, women are depicted as weak and needy and often are treated unfairly in regard to politics and employment. From this cultural background, a stigma has developed that women cannot handle disappointing or disturbing news.
I promised that I would share a secret I kept from my wife for almost ten years for fear it would send her into a depression. Presumptuously, I determined for my wife what she could and could not handle--not giving her the respect as my equal as I know she is.
A year after our marriage, my wife and I went out for manicures and pedicures. It was my first experience. We were seated next to each other laughing away getting the pedicure portion. My wife's professional finished with her feet before my professional did with mine, and proceeded to speak to me.
Speaking with a heavy accent she stated, "This is very nice."
"Yes, it is nice," I responded smiling ear to ear.
"It is nice you do this together," she stated agains smilingly.
"Yeah," I responded letting the massaging motions on my feet sooth my troubled mind about my man card.
"It nice you come here with your mother." After she said this, I did not know what to think.
"That's my wife," I corrected. There was no more talking. Luckily my wife was not in earshot of this remark. I thought it proper etiquette to never mention this to my wife for as long as I lived. EVER!
I wonder if Nick ever had this said to him about his former wife Mariah Carey when they were together--though it was true that she was much older than him. He has a boyish look himself.
What do you think?
Should the husband have told his wife that people thought she was old enough to be mistaken as his mother though they are the same age?
That is it for now. Proper social interactions are based on cultural constructs that promote order. Some are good and some are not. In today's society, almost anything is accepted. Mutual respect most of all seems to be the hallmark of all social interactions. Let's remember to model that behavior.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony Johnson