Thursday, March 17, 2011


  Redefining Crazy
    Once upon a time, when someone would say something mean to me, I would fret over it for days. Today’s lesson is about how not to let someone’s nasty comment ruin your day.
  So I had a fabulous conversation with a young lady ten years my junior the other evening. We were fighting over, let’s be honest what is it that women ever fight over, a boy (unless you are at warehouse sale and there is only one size of the dress that you and some other woman both want and you both claimed to have seen it first) and this young lady, a lovely woman, other than the fact that she is roughly a hundred pounds overweight and her facial features happen to make her look like “more man than woman” as my Spanish exchange student used to say, said to me “Laurie you are crazy!"
    If I had to guess, this comment was aimed at making me feel somewhat less than. Sadly Kathy, I will call her, is unfamiliar with my life story, and my thoughts on the word crazy so that unfortunately for her, when she likely thought that she was insulting me, I actually felt she was paying me a compliment. This woman claims to be a lawyer, though her best retort was “Shut up , Laurie, I hate you”. Again, I’m not sure where she was headed with these comments, but if I had to guess, I suppose she meant them as insults, though I took them handily as compliments.
    Her main theory on why I am not dateable was that I have five children. Furthermore, she cited that I am an insufficient role model to my offspring. This from a woman, who has no children, doesn’t want any, and looks as though she could be the next spokesperson for Jenny Craig(at the beginning of the campaign because she has much weight to lose). Not that I have anything against overweight people. This is a lesson on how to handle insults that are ludicrous, erroneously based, and generally, just, well, for lack of a better word, stupid. This lesson can also be applied to 'accurate' insults as well because really is there such a thing?
   When I studied philosophy, we learned about types of argument. Apparently Kathy missed that course in law school. I wonder where ever she did earn her degree, and if in fact, she completed her course study at an actual physical university or if this was some type of paper she was able to acquire through the mail, but... I digress. Back to today’s lesson. Ad hominem attacks. Basically an ad hominem attack is a fallacy in good argument form. It’s when you attack someone’s character to divert attention from what it is that you actually arguing about. 
    It’s like when you say to your kid, “Hey you didn’t clean your room” and he says “yeah well you are bad mom.”

      "Sorry son it doesn’t work that way. We are not talking about what kind of mom I am, we are talking about the        
fact that you did not clean your room, a proper response would address that fact, and would not have anything to do with my character."

      Generally speaking, people use ad hominem attacks because they are incapable of arguing their point, either because they are wrong or because they are simply verbally incontinent.  I am going to guess that Kathy is both, but one can not be sure. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say possibly she is just one or the other.
       My point being, the next time that someone says something nasty to you, instead of getting all upset and serious and like, "why on earth would they say that to me, that is so horribly, terribly mean?" Attack the insults and their lack of resonance instead of the other person. I mean it would have been quite easy for me to tell Kathy that is she is fat, and horribly unattractive, but really that’s too easy and it is bad argument form, and it would have made me look just as silly and inept as she is, which I am most DEFINITELY( please note the proper spelling of this word because according to one source, it is a difficult word to spell and one missed by some spell checkers???) not.

     The better option for me really was simply to leave Kathy’s character and physical presence alone. I mean it speaks for itself, I needn’t speak for it. Moreover, I already know that I’m better looking, smarter, funnier, and that no jackass who hasn’t even had one kid much less five is going to insult my parenting skills in any meaningful way because her comments are spoken out of pure.unadultered.ignorance. Of course after our encounter, I called all of my friends and laughed about all of the things that she said about me and how ugly and fat and stupid she is, but in her presence, I did not stoop to these levels.
    Her greatest allegation really, of all, was that I am crazy. And here is what I think is most important to remember when someone is hurling vicious, nasty comments at you: think about what they are saying and say to yourself, really is what they are calling me all that bad? I mean words are just words. The old saying stick and stones really can be true, if you remember not to take people too seriously. Moreover crazy is in the eye of the beholder. And in this world, if I’m crazy, I am actually quite glad because honestly most days I walk around and I’m like “you can’t be serious” this is how the world works? And if that is sanity, than by God I hope I am crazy. Hang tough readers. Hell is breaking loose by the day.       

     Oh and one more thing. With me, there is always one more thing. Just to be extra special ludicrous and silly and to have a good laugh at the person insulting you and yourself- which really is priceless in terms of mood elevation- trust me- shout with as much  righteous indignation as you can muster, " DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?"

     And when the person regards you as if you are crazy, or pathetic or so and say in the most modest, uncertain, and contrite voice that you can contrive, " Oh...okay...I was just wondering." Look down with a sad expression and continue. " I was trying to find out for myself, so I am just asking around."  

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