It all started with underwear. Doesn’t it always?
My friend caught sight of my underwear in a store dressing room and wouldn’t shut up about it.
Cackling like a wicked hyena, she unleashed a torrent of mean-spirited descriptions, from “grayer than a hoary corpse” to “baggier than an elephant’s hide.”
Years ago, I doubt she would have been this candid. Years ago, I imagine she would have kindly put her arm around my shoulder and suggested we go “update” my unmentionables. But not these days, oh no. She tells it like it is. Whatever froths to the surface is what comes pouring out.
She’s not alone. Most everyone in our age group — and that would be an age group more concerned with finding a good parking spot than finding a solution to global warming — seems to have lost their filters.
Forget couching something in agreeable terms, forget softening the blow of criticism, forget beating around the bush. If we advanced-agers have something to say, a point to be made, an opinion to share, well, stand back oh ye of delicate ears, because here it comes.
I’ve lost my filters, too. The first thing I blurted out when I got in my sister’s car yesterday was, “what stinks?”. Not “hello” or “thanks for picking me up” or “You look nice today,” but “what stinks?”. Something did stink, too, so I was not out of line. But, upon reflection, I don’t think it was the kindest way to start our outing.
Why have our filters flown the coop? While I can’t speak for others, I can say that mine have turned to dust for a variety of reasons. One, all the words associated with “softening the blow,” so to speak, aren’t materializing as quickly as they used to, which has rendered me quite blunt.
To give an example — if I had had my wits about me the other day, I would have said to my sister, “Oh my, your car has an unusual odor today. Might you have stepped in something of an animal origin?”. But all those big words — unusual, odor, origin — are no longer at the tip of my tongue.
Two, I am tired of always being the good girl, the politically correct person, the accommodating whatever. Frankly, it feels liberating to just say what’s on my mind and to also be somewhat immune to the consequences.
To give another example — I recently told my neighbor her barking dogs were giving me murderous thoughts. Sure, I could have gently approached her with a charitable, “Um, gee, you might not be aware of this, but your dogs? (The ones you leave outside all day?) Well, they bark from sunup to sundown. Shall we work on a solution?” So many complicated sentences, so much brainpower. I just don’t have the steam anymore.
And three? Oh, man, I don’t know, I finally got in touch with my inner shrew? How’s that? What? You don’t like it? Well, nuts to you. May the likes of one thousand fire ants find their way into your unmentionables. Boo-ya!
Anne Palumbo writes this column for Messenger Post newspapers. Her email is avpalumbo@aol.com.