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Monday, December 09, 2013

4 Situations That Inevitably Make You Feel Like a Tool

We've all been there, standing in a funeral procession line to hug and comfort the grieving relatives, sorrowful ourselves but wishing we could just duck under the pews and make a mad dash for that open back door. We feel obligated to say something, even though nothing we could possibly say will turn back time, stop that horse from breaking the fence trying to reach the ice cream truck, and bring good old Uncle Wilber back.

It's times like these that there are very few people capable of saying anything even remotely comforting, and even those words become obnoxious after hearing them 50 times in a row.  But we'll get back to that.  Ever had a coworker proudly bring in their baby/grandbaby and fawn over how impossibly gorgeous it is, only for you to peek behind that baby blanket and find yourself staring at a blinking potato monster?

To kick off the week, I present to you, dear reader, those experiences we've all had, where words are expected but they elude us.

Situation #4 - The Pregnant Woman Who Isn't

I hate admitting to this, but I've done it.  There's something so beautiful about a glowing pregnant woman that you just have to make a comment and compliment them on how well their pregnancy suits them - only to find out that they aren't pregnant.

What do you do now?  As she stands there with uber-attitude (and rightly so), staring you down with eyes that threaten to engulf you in flames at any second, "my bad" just isn't good enough.

...and me without my marshmallows...

**Side note - there really isn't anything that you can Google without it resulting in porn.  Nasty, nasty people.** 

I got nothin.'  You can't recover from this one; just mumble a humble apology and run.  Fast.

Situation #3 -  All Babies Are NOT Beautiful

I'm sorry, but they're not.  Babies by definition are wrinkled, angry flesh bags when they emerge into the world, unable to voice their dissatisfaction and pissed as all hell about it.  Some of them become gorgeous once they fill in a little and they surrender to the fact that they can't go back to where they came from, while others kind of float in a limbo of awkward ugly-babyness that they don't grow out of until toddlerhood.  It's okay, just because they're not physically beautiful doesn't mean they aren't precious, and humans have this weird soft spot for ugly, helpless things.

Isn't that the most beautiful - oh, uh - don't worry...he'll grow into his tail.

The problem is that parents don't see their baby as being this awkward, wiggly, demanding little alien creature that feeds off of its surroundings like a parasite.    To them, their baby is the most glorious thing in all creation, touched by the hand of God Himself.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Still, it makes it difficult for the rest of us to be genuine when we see the little darling, which is why a simple "Awwww" will always suffice.

Speaking of kids...

Situation #2 - The Person Who Refuses to Make Their Child Behave.  Ever.

Parents, let me be clear - not everyone expects your toddler to sit quietly during a visit or be a perfect angel when they have to sit through two hours at a restaurant.  Small children aren't capable of reeling in their abundance of energy at all times, and most of us - especially those of us with children of our own - understand that.


How many times have you been enjoying a nice meal in a restaurant, when suddenly someone's grubby little heathen starts screaming, running around, or otherwise acting like some Lord of the Flies reject?  Heaven help you if you say something to the parent, or - oh my flying spaghetti monster - to the child, because parents seem to think that their children are absolutely the most precious thing in all existence (see above) and how dare you for being annoyed at their demon child antics.  You must be some kind of monster for not thinking that their 4-year-old's sweaty, snotty fingers digging into your $12 mashed potatoes isn't just the cutest thing ever, or reeling back when their 5-year-old openly honks your boobies while the whole place looks on in horror.
How about that one young parent who visits you and seems oblivious as their child hones in on your most expensive and irreplaceable items and proceeds to disassemble them with vengeance?  Ah, yes - and as soon as you so much as cast a disapproving eye toward their child, you get ripped into like you've just stepped into a den of bears.

Are you questioning my parenting abilities?  Who the hell do you think you are?  He/she's just a child! 

Nope, no red flags there.

Automatic fix (at least if the offending child is in your house):  "Oh, it's almost 2 o'clock.  My friend -insert random name here - will be here soon.  She works for CPS."

Situation #1 - Loss of a Loved One

Like I said above, there is absolutely nothing to be said in a situation like this that even comes close to being effective.  If you've ever been the grieving, you already know that, while you appreciate the condolences, you kind of want to throat punch the 50th person that says, "I'm sorry." 

Then there's, "God works in mysterious ways."  I get the sentiment behind this, I really do.  Still, how can you in good conscience tell someone who just lost a child or their lifelong companion that somehow their tragedy was planned from the beginning, and their hours of broken-hearted sobbing and feeling of complete helplessness are somehow insignificant in the big picture of things? 

"They're in a better place" only works if the person you're speaking to believes in this hypothetical place.  Otherwise it's just another generic condolence that fades into the abyss of all the other blank, pointless reassurances. 

There's nothing really funny about this part of my post, but I wanted to touch on it because unfortunately, at some time or another, all of us will be on one side or the other of this situation.  For those trying to comfort, sometimes a hug is all that's needed.  And to those who have lost a loved one, don't be angry with the endless stream of seemingly meaningless banter - these people care, they just really don't know what to say.

Have a great week, and for all of you who are stuck in ice-covered insanity (ie: everyone but Florida), stay safe and warm.


Ever had an awkward moment?  Feel free to share in the comments!
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