One day you’re in a great mood and you’re skipping on a field of dreams in a meadow of sunflowers in a rainbow barn of red velvet cupcakes made of even smaller red velvet cupcakes and on another day you’re crying on your doorstep clinging a dead rat. It just happens. And people will try to cheer you up. And you won’t want to hear it. Here’s my list of top 5 most condescending things you can say to a person. “Almie, you’re so cynical and critical,” you might say. And I understand that. Sometimes I am. But sometimes, just shut up and let me deal with it, okay? Okay, Stan?
5. “It’s gonna be okay.” Oh, is it? Is it, future wizard? Of course you can say it’s okay, you’re not the one sobbing in a bar singing “Drops of Jupiter” at karaoke night, are you? You don’t know how I feel. Am I saying that I am the only person in the entire world who has ever felt sad or hopeless? Of course not. But do I want you to waltz in here, like a rich man on a yacht, and tell me that essentially my problems are insignificant? How would you like it if you were in emotional pain and I came up to you and said, “Hey buddy, it’s going to be okay” and then gave you a pat on the shoulder and walked away as I tried to hide my guffaws over that hilarious joke Cynthia in marketing told? You wouldn’t like it at all.
4. “Hey, could you do me a favor?” This is only condescending if the person asking you this is your boss. No, sir, I will not do you a favor. It’s not a favor. I’m being paid to do it. You know this. You know that under any other circumstance I would not do you a favor. I’m only here because I’m being forced to. And you’re only here because your dad owns the studio. And your little black convertible is stupid and you look stupid in it and you should feel bad.
3. “Smile!” Why do people do this? I’m not a child in your portrait studio. Sometimes I’m not even sad and someone will walk past me and snap at me to smile and it makes me want to start screaming. Full on Janet Leigh in “Psycho” screaming. She’s screaming because she’s being stabbed in the shower. And that’s how you’re making me feel. I’m vulnerable. And you are stabbing me with your stupid comment. So I want to scream. Also, I’m naked. But that has nothing to do with the “Psycho” metaphor; I’m not even sure how that happened.
2. “Sweetie.” As in, “Sweetie, can you get me that book from the shelf?” or “Sweetie, I don’t think that hair style will work with you” or “Sweetie, that’s not what I said.” Are you my grandma? No? Okay then. There is a window in which you do not ever, ever call anyone “sweetie” and that time is from when you’re the same age as the person you’re saying it to until age 72. I don’t even think it’s acceptable to use as a term of endearment anymore. If it is and your partner has no problem with it, then go sweetie your face off, I don’t want your life. (That was supposed to be read in James Van Der Beek’s accent from “Varsity Blues” and I hope that came through.) The best way to get someone to physically pull a radiator out of the wall and throw it at you is to call them “sweetie.”
1. “It’s not a big deal.” This is usually said by the most self-entitled people on the planet who have problems even more minor than yours and expect you to drop everything in your life to help them. These are the people who left their Cranberries CD in the quad and want to get it before someone steals it. And to them, it’s a big deal. But when you tell them that you can’t pay your rent and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the next month and they shrug and say, “It’s not a big deal, at least you have an apartment, there’s people dying in Uganda.” Meanwhile these people cannot even find Uganda on a map. Even if it was a map just of Uganda. Then come their trifling emergency when you tell them, “It’s not a big deal” and you say it in a gentler tone than they did because you’re a kinder person, they snap at you, “Oh, yeah, no problem Eleanor, it’s just my life. It’s not a big deal to you but to me it’s everything and you don’t even know what’s going on, you don’t even understand what’s happening. I can’t deal with this right now. I can’t even deal with this. You just don’t understand what it’s like to lose an iPhone, okay? You just don’t get it.”