Having grown up the way I did with a control freak for a mother and a bully for a dad, I don't like to be bossed around. Early on I discovered that people cannot make you do anything if you don't want to do it. I explained a little of that when I told you about my attitude toward anything physical.
I made peace with my parents by learning what made them tick and teaching them how to relate to me as an adult. And yet I seem to collect people who are very much like my parents were when I was growing up. It has happened since grade school. Does something in my demeanor invite people to tell me what to do? Does my don't-give-a-shit-about-stuff-that's-stupid-to-me attitude look somehow like uncertainty? Is coming to terms with this issue my mission in this particular life?
I've gotten a divorce over it. I've thrown out friends because of it. I've moved and withheld my phone number and closed my MySpace account - all because I don't have the energy to argue with people over baloney. And you telling me what to do is baloney.
I may sound a lot more confident than I am. I am only now learning just exactly who I am and why I do the things I do, but I know this one thing about myself: If you boss me around, I'm going to get ugly about it.
I am not the least bit inflexible. I will listen to you. I know a good plan when I hear one. I will change my mind when I'm wrong. I will apologize when I've been a bitch. I'll ask advice if I'm at a loss. But if you plan to tell me what I should do, then just get out of my car.
There are numerous ways to get me to do something. Make a good case for your viewpoint. I've been an English teacher. I taught many people to write persuasion papers, and I have a keen appreciation for a well made case. I will even thank you for your big idea. But don't shove your opinion at me or I'm going to knock it out of your hands way before you can get it down my throat.
I don't know why people feel free to boss others around. I don't have any desire to tell anyone what to do. When I encounter people, I feel a natural curiosity about them. I observe what they do and form my own opinions. I may ask questions about motivations or request clarification. But you're never going to hear me say the words, "You know what you ought to do?" You know why? Because I truly don't care what you do. I'll watch you do it, but I have no investment in the outcome.
You must feel really superior to me if you think you can just spout off some pronouncement and have me fall right into line. Some people are just gleeful when they think they can force you into something. Like the religious farts. What a scam to come up with: If you don't do what we want you to, you'll die. And not just in this one life you're trying your best to live now, but forever and ever into all eternity. And we won't answer your questions either. Have faith.
The minister I grew up with once told me, "And when you get to college, you'd better not take any philosophy courses, because your faith is already shaky as it is." One guess which courses I signed up for first. In philosophy courses, I learned to think. That wasn't valued in my religious circle. I wasn't in church the day the minister got potted before Sunday services, fell out of the pulpit, and had to be sent somewhere to dry out. He had a lot to do with my shaky faith, and I never got a chance to tell him.
And then there are the naggers. Just keep saying the same thing over and over and I'm sure I'll start liking the message better when I've heard it a dozen times. Just keep bringing the topic up and giving your same old opinion until I'm puking with boredom. Make sure that the solution you're pushing is real good for you and of no interest to me. Don't bother to find out what I think. What do they get out of it? Do they ever stop in mid-sentence and realize that they are talking to themselves? No. Because they apparently have no audience awareness. I will eventually break down to shut you up and then I'll hate us both.
My dad was a nagger. I would resist for a while and then finally give in and make a bad deal with him so he would shut up. We both knew what he was doing, and he still enjoyed it. I traded cars with him. I bought a car from him for a dollar and he gave me a car that wasn't worth a dollar. I was involved in a complicated three-way trade with him and his brother, and I somehow ended up with Granny's TV and had to give it back when she thought I stole it. Dad never changed, except for the times his eyebrows drew together and he drew inside himself and looked only at his shoes. Depression runs in that family.
Exley was a nagger too, only he didn't really mean to be a bully as much as he meant to do whatever was necessary to get what he wanted. That feels like bullying to me. He can't help it. He's an Aries - and the youngest kid and a good guy in a weird way. He always wants to be of help but he just keeps saying it, like a kid, until he wears you down and you say yes just so you won't have to hear it again. Here's your money for the movies.
Mom wasn't a nagger. She told you once, then slapped you if she didn't think you were moving fast enough. She has developed a good bit of patience in the past fifty years. I actually like her method better than wheedling.
And the non-smoking Nazis. As far as I'm concerned, you have every right not to breathe cigarette smoke. You can allow no smoking in your house. You can require restaurants and bars to have squeaky clean air and lobby for legislation to protect your offspring and get the laws changed so that no one can smoke anywhere near the door to a public building. I even kind of admire you for going after what you think is best. You can look down on the filthy habit. But you can't make people stop smoking, and that's what you really want to do. Admit it.
There is one special person who doesn't find me lacking. He enjoys the way I am and doesn't advise me to change. That means a lot to me.
The exercise. Four days. Would you believe me if I said I was kind of liking it? It's because of the big purposeful steps, endorsed by powdergirl, whose blog post today made me bawl. I've always wondered why other people can walk so much faster than I do, and now I know. You don't speed up by taking faster tiny steps. Take big old steps and you go faster and you feel it in the back of your legs and your butt and pretty soon you start swinging your arms and then your hips. If only someone will give me to the key to swimming.
Pretty soon we'll be walking real fast instead of driving around in that Cadillac.
Oh, yeah. I have new business cards. Aren't they adorable? They tell you all the ways you can find me online.