I probably should've been insulted...

So I just wrote a long, blathery post on Mad Knitting that really has little to do with knitting and a lot to do with body image and ideals of beauty and such in modern culture. Y'know, in case you're interested in reading it.

But it reminds me of something that happened to me the other day. I was at a grocery store with Daniel and a woman I'd never seen before approached me and said, "I notice you have some redness on your cheeks. That's a condition called r------ [I honestly can't remember the word she used, sorry]. I have that, too, and if you get some of the cream for him [she pointed at Daniel] and rub it into your face, it really helps." (By "cream," I think she must have meant lotion of some kind; I'm not sure.)


I think that's the first time I've been given unsolicited advice from a stranger on my looks. Maybe I should have been insulted, but I was more surprised than anything else. The woman wasn't at all unkind. She was just trying to be helpful. And my complexion has never been perfect; pregnancy has even brought out the ruddy, blotchy, break-out qualities I always hoped would just disappear entirely after adolescence. (Yay.)

So what's the weirdest thing a stranger has said to you? Not that I'm trolling for comments here...


Pam said…
That's interesting. I have had people point out to me that I have rosacia, too (I think that's what it's called - something like that) - and tell me I should buy some sort of cream for it. I don't think it was as totally random as your incident, though. I think it was someone I knew.

Hmmm... what the weirdest thing a stranger has ever said to me? When I was in San Francisco last weekend, Ian took me to see Avenue Q at the Orpheum Theatre. The area right around the theatre is pretty sketchy actually and while we were walking, a woman on the street who I'm assuming was drunk or high came right up to me and said, "Your fat belly makes me want to throw up!"

How's that for weird?
Steph said…
Once I was wandering through the lobby of the performing arts center at University of Northern Iowa with my mother-in-law (we were just out on a walk) and this college-age kid who appeared to be somehow employed there engaged us in conversation--I'm sure my MIL asked him some question about the design of the place or something, because she does that kind of thing. And she mentioned that I was a grad student at Michigan State University School of Music and he said to me, "I'm sorry." I said, "What?" He said, "Have you ever considered going to the University of Michigan School of Music? It's excellent!" I was just flabbergasted. I gave him my best Look of Death and said "Don't pity me. Really." What I wish I had said was, "Wow, please give me your phone number so I can call you next time I really need professional advice from some random pretentious undergraduate shithead at the University of the Northern Iowa." Or maybe, "I'm sorry, that was an incredibly rude, reductive, and inappropriate statement. Are you a complete asshole, or just a social reject?" (I'm so sharp with the comebacks.)

That woman you encountered was surely trying to be helpful, but frankly I think you would have been completely within your rights to tell her she was rude and to shove off. Where do such people learn their manners??
jen said…
yup, roseacia, though I probably misspelled that (firefox wants me to make it "wiseacre"). My mother was convinced for a while I had it. No, I'm just Norwegian, like my dad.

Strangest thing a stranger has ever said to me wasn't to me, but to my husband. We were walking to the beach in Ft. Lauderdale, having just finished lunch. A man points at my husband's (very pale because even though he's Hispanic we live in the NW & it's not very sunny here) chest and says "YOU'RE on vacation!" It's a running joke in our house.


I was walking down the street, on my way home from having some "me" time after 2 weeks of George being out of town, when this man in a lime green fleece jacket walks past in the other direction. "My girlfriend just left me," he said. "She said my penis was too small." "I'm...sorry?" I squeaked.
Andre said…
I kind of block out weird stuff that people say to me. . .I don't know if it's selective memory or delusion. I guess one of the stranger things I've ever heard came at the end of a composition lesson. . this was about 14 years ago now, and I had dreadlocks at the time. . my teacher said, "so you bring in some pretty music next week or else I'm going to cut off all those locks of yours. ." Strange incentive. .

And Steph, that kid said a stupid, miserable thing that deserved some Spartan hospitality! I get so annoyed with folks who get militant about the MSU/UM rivalry.
Steph said…
Yeah, I was kind of thinking he was lucky he didn't make that comment to a more violent partisan, like maybe a member of the Spartan marching band. He might have lost some vital appendages.
How's this for weird... A couple of weeks ago, a very young woman (late teens to early 20s) going door to door selling oil change discount cards asked me upon my opening the door... and she was in all seriousness... if my mother was home. I don't wear makeup anymore (can you believe THAT, after I used to pile it on in high school?), and I was wearing a pair of ratty jeans and a t-shirt that says "Top Ten Reasons I Procrastinate: 1..." But still, to ask if my mom was home? What was really so freaky was that she was SERIOUS.

But by far the weirdest thing that has ever been said to me by a stranger in public was the time Jamethan and I were at target, and he was climbing all over the cart. I kept telling him to stop and he kept on doing it anyway. So, I told him "Well, if you fall, I won't sympathize with you. In fact, I might laugh, 'cause I've told you several times to knock it off 'cause you're going to wind up hurt." This weird lady starts yelling at me how I'm an abusive parent because I told my kid I'd laugh if he fell after me telling him repeatedly not to. Then she starts screaming at me how she's going to call social services and the police because I'm such a terrible parent. So, seeing the nutcase lady going off, I start to push my cart away from her. She starts following me all over the store. At this point, I went and got the nice security guard, told him what all was happening, so he went and got the manager (all the while the lady is still yapping at me), I tell them my story, listen to the crazy lady ranting for a while longer, then eject her from the store. That was a truly strange occurrence.
Becca said…
Rosacea, I think. I don't think you have it, Suze, since I think it's one of those things you have or don't and I don't remember you having in high school. It's rather pronounced.

Now, hot flash from pregnancy--yeah, that can turn your face really red!

Weirdest thing said to me--It's a tie. Years ago, in Tucson, I was walking home from my sister's apartment when I passed a "gentleman" in the parking lot who casually tossed off, "Nice t!ts!"

A few months ago, a grocery store cashier told me I looked like Carnie Wilson. "After she got he bypass surgery but before she got all skinny."

Yeah. Thanks for clarifying that.

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