shut up

And you couldn’t keep that to yourself?

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I am often amazed that in our moments of fury, we open our mouths and allow words to flow out that should have stayed in our heads. I have seen it happen in the classroom, in the boardroom, and heard about verbal faux pas in the bedroom. How do we learn when to close our lips and speak with our eyes?

Last week, during demonstrative speeches, one of my students gave an excellent presentation on how to tie dye a shirt. One brilliant student in the back felt it was necessary to share her opinion once I mentioned I would be interested in trying out the method. She asked, out loud, if I would be applying the process to my sweater collection. Really? And you couldn’t have kept that you yourself?

Adding insult to injury, I have a student that is legally blind. Judging by the thickness of her spectacles, and the placement of the lens, legally, may just be a misnomer. I asked, “Do you still drive?” The student responded yes, and of course from the peanut gallery came the words, “Oh, hell naw!” Seriously, and you could not have kept that to yourself? I was proud of the other students for not laughing,

I was even proud of myself for waiting until after class to pull the student aside and speak with her about keeping something in her head.

Students you can overlook because they are of course, still in a learning slash training environment. In the workplace or in social settings, some verbal faux pas are not so easily dismissed. I experienced this yesterday. During a very prominent literary event in which I was a member of the planning committee, we took great effort in the placement of the authors. The authors in the entry way, the authors in the children’s section, the authors on the second floor were all placed by genres. One idiotic participant, who is friends with one of my fellow organizers, evidently felt as if she should have been given preference. Really? A young newcomer to her writer’s group, in which my fellow organizer was also a member, was given prime placement on the first floor as a new self-published author. He was placed next to a seasoned author with several published titles. This was a great opportunity for this young man and he maximized the moment.

Yes, I called her idiotic and here is why. Instead of her coming to me or one of the fellow organizers to express her concern or question her placement, yes, you guessed it, she opened her stupid mouth and allowed stupid words to roll out. She found a person that she felt she could express her concern, and she began her conversation by stating that, “Yeah, they placed all the black authors on the second floor and we ain’t getting no traffic!” She told this to the Big Boss. She told this to my fellow organizer’s boss. Did she know who she was talking to; I don’t think she really cared. I think she felt slighted and just chose to shoot off her stupid mouth. But she did not let it stop there, she started ranting and raving to other participants, creating an atmosphere of distrust. She created an atmosphere of disharmony. She created hostility.

Here’s the thing. Book festivals are designed for the author to meet, mingle and make new friends. Unless you are a New York Times best seller, in which you would be on press junkets, you are there to create a buzz about your book. If you are self-published, unless you have an excellent editor, your work is suspect anyway. Book sales that are made are really the luck of the draw.

Now, it is unlikely that she will be invited back next year simply because she could not speak with her eyes and keep her thoughts to herself. Adding insult to social injury, she shared her incorrect assessments with others, causing strife. Was it really that serious? Are you that angry that you could not have kept your feelings to yourself? In the end, you gained nothing but a reputation as a trouble maker.

Too Much Information

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In an instant messaging status updating world, our days are filled with the overflow of information on our personal lives.  Depending on the number of friends and followers, one can be constantly bombarded with information of other’s existence.  Those social vampires that you have avoided personal contact with are now filtered through your phone and they still find a way to suck the life out of you with their problems. We certainly have the ability on Facebook to “hide” their ramblings, but how do you adjust the streaming feed in real life?  Or has it progressed to a level of a constant need for attention that has removed our ability to know when we are sharing too much information? As the Queen of Tweetdeck updates, allow me to explain.

              As I was undergoing another round of nap therapy, the thick accented patient next to me was asking the therapist a question that she could not decipher.  He looked to me for help so I translated his words. This opened the door for Therapy Lady to unload her sadness unto my mat. First she explained that husband number two was also Puerto Rican and she should have understood his thick accent. My eyebrows arched in disbelief, one, because the gentleman next to me was German, and two, who asked her. Evidently misreading my arched brows as “tell me more,” she then proceeded to inform me that her first husband, a high school sweetheart, was Bipolar, and when he hit child number two with a backhand, she knew she had to leave him. 

            Arched eyebrows now furrowed, inspired her to continue this tale and let me know that husband number two was in jail. I tilted my head looking for the hidden camera while waiting for someone to jump out and tell me that I was being “Punked.” Ashton did not answer my prayer because Therapy Lady continued this depressing diatribe by informing me that husband number two molested her 13-year-old. Eyebrows are again arched. She then says, “yeah, and he was quickly escalating towards something more serious.” Furrowed brows again, this time with my hands up, inspired her to add “yeah, I’m single now, and don’t want to be alone, but I can’t trust anyone else….” 

Was that a tear I saw trickle down her cheek?  I am now frowning, more serious than three years of him diddling your daughter, who thought there was nothing wrong with step daddy’s behavior because you didn’t think it was necessary to explain good touching and bad touching? Was it more serious than you using your daughter’s molestation as a sympathy pump and now it is all about you because it wasn’t your fault? More serious than me wanting to take the ice bag off my knee and knock some sense into your empty head? How could it possibly be more serious than the contempt I feel for you right now?

            Our heavy accented friend read my face correctly for he cleared his throat, which now drew the attention of Ms. Munchausen By-Proxy –Therapy-Lady and reminded her that she was actually at work. My lips, now pursed, and sister girl is evolving in my eyes, which are slowly widening as I raise myself to a sitting position. She must have taken the visual cues for what they actually were this time because she took the hell off.

            Don’t ask, because I don’t know what I was going to say or going to do, I just knew I had experienced enough “oversharing” for an afternoon.  But here is the sad part, I did not report her. We are in a recession and she is a single mom. However, if she should choose to be so dumb and share with me once more, I will offer her this advice.  Your friends are there to share your burdens in life, not complete strangers. Your friends will also get tired of listening to you go on about poor me.  Take your misery off of your Facebook status and stop taking the phone into the bathroom with you; the person on the other line does not want to hear you pee and I don’t want to pee and hear you.  I am not investing in Botox so stop trying to read my expressions as I care and you should unburden yourself on me. Last but not least, shut the bleep up! Be miserable by yourself and stop subjecting those around you to your pity party. If this isn’t enough information, then I will plainly state that some stuff, you should keep between you, your God and a good psychologist.