On Getting Downright Offensive
“Wow, you must’ve been really hungry!”
If you want a mental death sentence, tell me this.
My uncle’s partner did, actually, earlier this week. He’s on a “health kick,” which means spinning classes Tuesday through Thursday. On Wednesday night, I joined him and his biker shorts in the eaves of an old church in Flatiron, and yes, I love how ridiculous that sentence sounds but no, there’s truly no other way to explain what we did without sounding so ridiculous. Afterwards, we picked up dinner to-go from Whole Foods. Salmon, broccoli rabe, and collard greens (the new kale! kaboom!) for me, and turkey, sweet potatoes, and broccoli rabe for he and my uncle.
I was starving, so I ate like a hungry girl. For context, three-quarters of my plate was green stuff from the ground. And no, I’m not talking about the mary jane. That’s a different uncle.
And then it came, flying right across the table like a sharpened steak knife right at my poor pescetarian head.
“Wow, you must’ve been really hungry!”
I scowled. I wanted to jump across the table in rage, Mean Girls style. I wanted to make a bar graph comparing the nutrition contents of each of our meals. I wanted to tell him that there is no shame in eating until you’re full, and there’s no shame in eating a hella lot of collard greens.
Everyone’s been in situations like these, where we aren’t given backhanded compliments but almost the opposite — passive aggressive nips that tug at your ego’s soft spots. Wow, you must’ve been hungry, is perhaps what we can call the “classic,” here.
Getting back to the story — no, I did not unleash my defensive string. I kept those guys on the bench as my fork gracefully reached across the table, stabbed another piece of broccoli rabe, and took it to the mouth like a girl who didn’t half-ass that spin class. (Because we all know spin is easy to fake. We’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about.)
Later, I vented to my mom about the one-liner that came my way at dinner. “You’re being oversensitive,” she told me then just like she did when —-. He’s a guy, she told me. He doesn’t understand. It’s all in your head.
Being oversensitive isn’t always bad, I guess. And maybe I’m saying that because I know I’m oversensitive, but so is everyone else when someone says something that really gets your weak spot. It’s part of the human condition. If we were oversensitive about nothing, then we simply wouldn’t care.
When an adult recently told me he thought “anorexics are strong, but I have no respect for bulimics,” I wanted to tell him how inappropriate that statement is, how ignorant, how serious of a disease both conditions are, how many people it effects. The lecture I could give would last half an hour.
So, maybe he was ignorant. Maybe, in my broccoli rabe fiasco, the comment was ignorant because it was made by a “guy” (though in my opinion, no excuse — collapse traditional gender roles, people!!) who didn’t know I’m oversensitive and doesn’t understand how his comment is one that knocks most young women get off their rockers, which is oxymoronic to say but true.
Call me a skeptic, or maybe a pessimist, but I find it hard to believe that people can say things like that unbeknownst of their sting. I thought my uncle’s partner, on health kick galore — I mean, he’s just catching on to the spinning trend, for god’s sake — could be fully aware of how his comment would be received because it would make him feel better about what he ate. I sound crazy, I know !!!, but if I was talking about a teenage girl making a comment like this, I know you’d believe me. Sometimes, people are bitter.
Mom could be right, as per usual, and there may be a good difference between those who are offensive and those who are offended in a singular scenario. The true intent of any statement depends on the person. Alas, I am left to rely on the good of humankind, which may be confined to the recent surge in 20-year-old jeans available for purchase, or the fact that my cheetah print espadrilles cost $40, or even that I’m no longer afraid to eat what I want and wear what I choose.