Friday, February 19, 2010

You Talking To Me?

If we've never spoken (voice to voice), there's something you should know about me. I was raised by Northerners. I was raised the Northern way. I speak my mind and give my opinion when asked (I try to wait until I'm asked. I don't pussy foot around. You'd love me if I had good news and loathe me if it was bad. I can appreciate the delicate dance others do in conversation; I simply find it hard to follow the steps. The romantic hypochondriac in me wonders if it's possible to have mild Aspergers. Mild sociopathy maybe?

I don't like looking strangers in the eye (apparently makes me rude). I don't always look my friends in the eye! I like to touch things all the time- I'm a very tactile person (unless I don't know you- stranger danger!). If we're talking and I'm playing with my sleeve or folding a napkin or scrolling the mouse on my computer or reaching over to tap an object, I'm not trying to be rude. I have to! I squint when I'm thinking, when I'm listening, when I can't believe what you're saying, when I can't see you. I wear contacts, people! Sometimes I loose focus. I'm not really squinting at you.

It isn't that I don't care... Okay, it is sometimes; it's that I don't know any better. I'm unaware of what I'm doing or how I'm speaking. I'm a proud (first generation) Texan, but the South doesn't always know what to do with me. I'm a Yankee at heart. I am not trying to hurt your feelings. I always say, "You'll know when I'm being mean to you", but maybe you wouldn't. Maybe you see me as rude. Maybe you don't like me. Maybe you wish I would "lighten up", "chill out", or "calm down". I assure you now; I am all those things already. This is just how I talk.

If I want to hurt you or be rude I don't do it with tone, I do it with words. I say, "Gosh, you're rude" or "Quit being an asshole, Asshole"! I've been called a bitch before, but it's usually because I said I didn't like you or maybe I told you a hard truth. My friends enjoy and have come to depend on my reliability to speak my mind and call out bullshit. They try to egg me on just to see what I'll do. For the record, that rarely works.

I don't know how to fix this about myself. Truth be told I'm not sure I would want to. It's an important part of me. However, recently it has been causing problems. My name tag at work used to include a conversation starter- your hometown. Being as I'm from Dallas and work in Dallas I thought that would be boring. So instead, I put "Milford, PA" (where I go every summer). I never had a problem with my speech pattern when those I was talking to thought I was from the Northeast. It certainly helps that I don't sound particularly Southern (unless I'm talking to those that do). I'm a linguistic chameleon. I say "soda" and "Oo ja?" (oh yea?) and "advert-is-mint". I don't pose statements as questions.

So, just give me a break. You'll know when I'm being mean to you.


  1. I love it that you just said, "I'll squint when I'm thinking, when I'm listening, when I don't believe what you're saying, when I can't see you." And then directly afterward you say that you're not squinting AT me. But you might be. And I'm pretty sure that all your squints look the same to me.

    I'm never really all that concerned that you don't like me or that you're trying to hurt my feelings. But I can see how a slightly less secure and confident person might feel that way. I am rarely intimidated by people and you flat out scared THE SHIT out of me when I first met you. The confidence you possess in yourself and your ideas isn't exactly ordinary. And this is coming from someone who's pretty confident.

    So I say this, maybe give those around you a little bit of a break if they can't exactly tell the difference between you speaking your mind and you being mean. Sometimes the line is blurry. But I wouldn't have you any other way.

  2. Thank you! I think the problem isn't that I'm not giving people a break, because I do. The problem is someone complaining and my having no recourse to defend myself.

  3. "I don't pussy foot around" - I never though about this as a Northern trait but... I mean, that explains a lot about me and who I get along with!

    I think that being direct can be a huge benefit, as long as you're not trying to hurt people in a backhanded way and you're just being honest, how could that be a bad thing?

    I have a few friends here who have asked me to not be so direct and to not speak my mind so quickly, but honestly I can't do it. I don't want to. I don't want to be someone who people have to guess what they really mean because they're too polite or too quiet.