I hereby for-with, do formally and unequivocally grant myself the right to be silly. Life is just too short. My days of jumping through hoops is about to come to a screeching halt. “What will people think?” has got to be the most insidious mind control twist ever. I don’t know what will people think? That I had a good time? That I’m certifiable, call the padded van? Don’t know, don’t care.
Who is this “they” that we all worry about. I think women especially are raised to have this internal sensor switched on in high gear. “Oh if you do that, people won’t think you’re a nice girl.” After 55 years hanging around the old planetary water cooler I have yet to hear even a second-hand tale of anyone who got any benefit from that kind of “niceness.” The nice that you are when you allow others to take credit for your accomplishments. This nice you are not when you refuse to do someone’s work for them while they goof off. Nice girls don’t get angry, Nice girls don’t stand up for themselves. If you were my friend you would…wash my car for me, babysit my cat for 3 months, drive in the middle of the night to come to my house and scratch my left eyebrow.
It’s amazing what people will expect you to do. And are shocked when you don’t go along with the plan. One time my daughter and I were on a train in Boston, chatting away, people watching and just in general having a good time. A woman who was financially endowed, shall we say, climbed on the train. She was fur clad, dripping with jewelry, hair shellacked into some kind of blond helmet. In each hand was huge handful of Neiman Marcus and Sax Fifth Avenue shopping bags. She looked around, walked down the aisle, stood over me and said “get up, I want your seat.” No please or anything. This woman was not much older than me and certainly not in the category of ‘be nice and give the elderly person your seat.’ Something about having my daughter with me made me think carefully about my answer. The last thing I wanted to do was set the example of a wishy washy scullery maid. Finally I looked at this woman, smiled a big smile and and “no, thank you.” She stomped her foot in an immature mini tantrum and walked off down the train. Maybe she bullied someone else out of their seat. I didn’t look to see. It was something about her sense of entitlement that just galled me.
When I travel I love to be open, ask dumb questions, pretend to not read the signs. There is no way you can pass yourself, as a local so why try? I talked at the JFK memorial and got scolded by a guard. I leaned too far over to see a Faberge Egg and set off the alarm. I lost my day pass at the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo and almost caused an international tourism incident. I laughed at the appetizer at a snooty hotel in Hong Kong. It was chunks of tofu with hotdog relish. Charging $20 for it didn’t make it a bit more sophisticated. I send my food back if it’s horrible. I climbed up the Statue of Liberty with a silly green crown hat on. I eat food from street vendors and don’t care if it dribbles on my clothes.
When I got older I’m going to enjoy that too. My walker will be metallic pink with racing stripes and a bicycle bell. I’m also going to refuse to wear a hearing aid but instead use an ear horn and crack up laughing at people trying to shout down it. I will still pretend to not understand and do as I please. Life is to be lived, loved and enjoyed. This is not a dress rehearsal, folks.