June 9, 2009

An apology, and a need. A need for cynicism.

Posted in *cringe*, The Aaaarrrghhhhh!, The WTF at 10:30 am by Dagny Taggart

First, to the woman sitting next to me on the metro this morning:  I got up when the elderly couple got on, because it seemed the right thing to do.  I then proceeded to zone out to my iPod.  The fact that my head was turned towards you was nothing more than coincidence, and I certainly wasn’t glaring at you.

But it was very nice of you to get up as well, so they could sit down together.

******

I am entirely too predisposed towards believing the best of people.  If anyone out there has any advice on how to become a cynic, please help a woman out.

Last night, I was practicing pool with some of my teammates, and was sitting down while my opponent sank 5 or 6 balls.  A man I did not know came over to the pool table area from the bar (the two are naturally separated by the layout of the establishment), and asked me to stand up for a second.  Thinking he might have left a jacket or something on the counter/railing behind me, I complied. 

Then he asked me to turn around, and I was concerned that I’d managed to get cue chalk all over the back of my sweater… AGAIN (when you’re my height, the tip of a pool cue leaning against a rail is at just the right height to brush against your shoulder blades).  When I turned back, he gave me the slimiest of once-overs, and said, “Very nice.”  I summoned my most sarcastic thank-you and disgusted grimace, and he fled.

I tend to assume that people won’t be intrusive, or offensive.  I tend to welcome people in, only to feel surprised and humiliated and chagrined and offended when they do something that’s not particularly nice or considerate.

Like telling me I’m “white trash, just like everyone else in Jersey.”  Which, even in the context of a lighthearted conversation among friends, managed to come across as intended barb, rather than jocular banter.

I have really got to stop expecting everyone to be nice all the time.

 

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9 Comments »

  1. Gabrielle said,

    You’re SURE it wasn’t a lame attempt at “jocular banter”? Being a native of L.I., I have become accustomed to a certain amount of “B&T Crowd” condescension from otherwise well-meaning individuals with boorish/snobby tendencies, particularly when the individuals in question have been drinking. Sometime people don’t realize what’s funny or whether they’ve crossed a line when alcohol is involved.

  2. vvk said,

    My advice? Avoid cynicism. My ‘issues’ lead to me becoming a cynic… and I’ve put in a lot of effort working to over come it. Of course there is a happy medium somewhere, but if I had the choice, I would err on the side of avoiding cynicism. It’s not a good way to live.

  3. Lisa said,

    Eeeee – I’d have done the same thing with that icky man, and then been totally surprised. Ew.

    And yet, I consider myself hugely cynical. Huh.

    As for your mistaken behavior on the metro, it was a fortunate one. I was on metro yesterday and there was another woman more pregnant than me, and nobody offered seats. It was morning, when I feel pretty good, and I only had four stops. So I didn’t make an issue. But next time, I’ll ask, I really will.

  4. Well…Anais Nin said that we see people not as they are, but as we are. So when someone thinks others are distrustful and petty, that tells you lots about them and probably means you wouldn’t want to be friends with them.

    I think most libertarians are optimists and humanists, and that’s not a bad thing. We see the good in others, because it exists in ourselves, so we assume it must be in others too.

    If the price of being a good person is that occasionally people will try to take advantage of your good nature, that’s not so bad. I think it would be far worse to go through life distrusting others and looking for ulterior motives in every random encounter for as long as you live.

  5. Gabrielle: In all honesty, it very well could have been, and I’m assured it was. It was just unexpected – and yes, alcohol was involved.

    vvk: I suppose cynicism isn’t quite what I’m looking for then. I just wish I could be more aware of when someone was about to make me look/feel stupid!

    Lisa: It was pretty awful – especially in front of my pool team, who will undoubtedly tease me mercilessly about it. And I honestly didn’t feel too bad about the woman getting up. But sometimes, you don’t know if someone needs the seat – it’s not always obvious.

    But people not getting up for pregnant women is ridiculous. Even if you’re not in the ADA seats. Sheesh!

    HIN: That’s an excellent point. I suppose I can live with feeling really, really stupid from time to time, if it means I’m not driving myself insane with constant suspicion.

  6. I am a fake cynic who is best described as a raging optimist with a strong pragmatic streak and who frequently wears a cynical disguise for his own protection. I do not encourage even my limited brand of cynicism as people who still believe in unicorns are infinitely more fun.

  7. Alias Faux said,

    F cynicism. F it in it’s stupid A. Being cynical is for the weak. Being a cynic means you’ve been burnt one too many times and now you’re afraid of believing in things, and hoping for things, and you’ve basically given up, and retreated into your safe little cocoon.

    Being a cynic is living to avoid sadness, instead of seeking out happiness, which means that the best you can do is “meh”.

    You deserve better than a life that tops out at “meh”.

  8. restaurant refugee: I think it’s the protective element that I’m seeking right now. Being vulnerable does have its disadvantages.

    And, um… there are people who don’t believe in unicorns? huh.

    Alias Faux: Well, I appreciate the last part of that, certainly. And the first part too, really. I just get tired of feeling like I’m the butt of someone’s joke, that’s all. :-/

  9. […] a tendency to perpetuate stereotypes that make one look assholish and ignorant may have a genetic […]


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