The other day, after writing the entry about flirtation and pedantry, I thought of a couple of examples of the type of sarcastic, pedantic, or downright nasty things I used to say to people.
This occurred when I was nineteen, and I worked in the record department at a retail store. Extremely glamorous (my tongue is very much in my cheek) and also low-paying. One day, the manager and I were sitting around talking, like we used to do whenever business was slow, and a woman from another department ambled over to talk with us. “Oh man, I hope today is better than yesterday; yesterday just drug.”
“Dragged,” I said, absently.
“What?” she asked.
“Dragged. ‘Drug’ is something you take to achieve an altered state of consciousness. ‘Dragged’ is what yesterday did.”
She gave me a look. “What are you, some kind of encyclopedia?”
She gave an exasperated sigh, then turned and walked away. The manager put her hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter.
This happened when I was about twenty-three, and I worked at a video store. One of my fellow employees constantly talked about how she was on a diet, and about how she was doing this-and-that to lose weight, but she would constantly snack on candy throughout the day. I don’t mean an occasional once-a-week kind of thing, either. She’d buy a couple different bars in the morning and afternoon, and have an ice cream sandwich for lunch. It was insane.
One day, she said, “I can’t figure out why I’m not losing any weight. I mean, I eat like a bird.”
“What, you eat twice your own weight every day?” Cause that’s what birds do. “Or do you mean you put it down and peck at it like this?” I made that pecking motion with my head toward her candy bar, which was sitting on the counter, half-eaten.
She got mad and walked away, and the other two employees cracked up laughing. These days, I would never make that joke. Maybe it’s because of all the women I know who have eating disorders. Maybe it’s because I’m wiser about psychological matters now, and about the myriad ways that shame weasels itself into our lives, and into the decisions we make every minute of every day. Or maybe I just think that it’s mean to make fun of people about their sensitive subjects.
All that being said, I have to confess that I do still think the ‘twice your own weight every day’ thing was funny. But when I look at videos or pictures of myself at the time, though, I see what a jackass I used to be, and I have to cringe.
I must have been twenty-eight or thirty before I really started to change, and to grow emotionally, and to become the person I am now, but that’ll have to be a story for another day.