I recently went to a viewing for a man who died while dining at chain restaurant named for a vegetable. He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t old. He appeared to be in good shape.
Danny was a good guy–he left behind a college-aged son and, between he and his ex-wife, they did a hell of a job raising a terrific young man.
Still, it was the type of out-of-the-blue death that got a lot of us shaking in our sensible, middle-aged shoes.
But Danny’s death isn’t the point of this post. It was actually a conversation I had while at Danny’s viewing that got me thinking about THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY WITHOUT BEING A DICK.
You know, all those times when you can’t believe your ears? And yet still, you hold back from speaking your mind…
See, I know this couple who are, say, a tad pretentious. They are childless by choice, and as such, they have never had to put anyone else’s needs before their own.
Anyone who has children knows there is no ruder awakening than the realization that along with the bundle of joy that you’ve brought home from the hospital, you will never, never be as free as in your childless days. You can’t even go to the 7-11 without packing a diaper and food bag and hauling the baby in its big carrier seat into the store with you.
This is NOT to say that all childless people are selfish. Just that this particular couple has always been fixated on their own needs.
They have yachts–plural. They golf. They travel. And, any day that ends in “Y” is just another opportunity to drink to excess.
Which sounds like a lot of fun when you’re in your twenties. But these folks are pushing sixty. Oh yeah.
So this couple lives in a grand home on the water, but it’s little more than a museum since family members are never invited over for holidays. Children are so messy, ya’ll. They might break something. Or spill on the floor.
Anyway, so I’m talking to the female half of this couple at the viewing. And she’s complaining about how awful her summer has been.
We need more space…
You just can’t get good help these days….
I had to fire the first contractor…
It’s been terrible…
It’s taking much longer than they said…
All the furniture that has been delivered for the new space is cluttering up the rest of the house because the new space is still unfinished…
You get the idea.
And this is me:
All I could think about was…
- how the evening’s guest of honor is DEAD;
- how the dead man’s nineteen-year-old son was present and soldiering through the evening…greeting his father’s mourners warmly and with great poise;
- how the ex-wife of the deceased is battling cancer and had just gone through surgery, soon to be followed by chemo and radiation;
- how there are people, even some likely here at the viewing, who are having trouble putting food on the table and she’s complaining about a luxury project.
And I just stood there listening and nodding because, well, because everything I wanted to say would just make me look like a dick.
So I bit my tongue until it was time to say goodnight and leave.
Anyway, I think it’s time to put a list together of things you’d like to say in just these kinds of situations. You know, when you’re talking to someone who needs to buy a clue.
So, in no special order, here are–
THINGS YOU CAN’T SAY WITHOUT BEING A DICK:
You know what? It really is all about you.
Why do you care? (Use after a particularly invasive question)
You must have a hell of a lawyer. Anyone else would be locked up by now.
Could you please NOT kiss me on the lips?
I know I just got here, but for some reason, I really want to leave now.
Well, if CNN said so, it must be true.
Why are you resting your hand on my ass?
You know, a brain is a terrible thing to waste.
Why do you ask? (again, use after an invasive question)
It must be wonderful to have a child who never does anything wrong. Is his name Jesus?
Did you hear that? (Allow the person time to listen and ask, “What?”) My bullshit detector is going off like nobody’s business…maybe because what you’re talking about is nobody’s business.
How clever of you to get drunk before coming to _______________________.
Pet parent? (Allow a well-placed snort to escape through your nose–painful, but effective in conveying your disgust) Yeah, a dog and a kid are two different things. Motherhood requires more than a once-a-day feeding, a couple daily walks and a little playtime. Don’t even get me started.
Thank you for bringing up politics. I haven’t heard enough about ______________.
Do you ever just listen to the words coming out of your mouth and wonder why God hasn’t struck you down?
Of course, since you can’t say any of the above, you can always resort to the time-honored catch-all response of the southern lady: “Well, bless your heart…”
Thanks for reading and keep smiling through the B.S.–they can’t read your mind…
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick
SHOUT OUT TO author Danya Kukafka, whose thriller, GIRL IN SNOW, features a character who often writes scenes from a screenplay she calls, WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY BUT CAN’T WITHOUT BEING A DICK. She inspired this blog post as much as my encounter with a certain woman.