by Leah Clouse
I do not love people. Not usually, and certainly not the way I would like to be loved. I’ve found that I am not a terribly kind person. Now, I will say in the limited defense I have, that I am a GREAT friend. I love my friends wholly and do my absolute best to treat them like the prized possessions they are to me. If I’ve expressed a fondness for you then you’ve got me inside and out.
That being said, I’m awful to strangers. Mind you, I’m never overtly mean. My interactions are always kind and enjoyable. I reserve this ugliness for my inner monologue. Although, on my most “endearing” days, it does spill out in the form of snide remarks and cruel humor. Ironically, I’m a firm believer in tact and keeping your classy face on in public.
I once got into a confrontation with a girl on an escalator at 1 AM. Paul and I were leaving the downtown Riviera theater and a girl about 6 feet ahead of us announced that she was freezing. I recall pretty vividly that she was wearing jeans and a flowy short-sleeved top. Now, it was February and I do recall wondering where her coat was… but I’m justifying and shortly you’ll see why there’s really no place for that here. Her announcement was followed by my horribly inappropriate response (which I thought I whispered) “that’s because you’re naked.”
WHAT??…I know. To this day, I don’t really know why I said it. She wasn’t naked. She wasn’t even inappropriately dressed.
So I say this terribly strange and inappropriate thing that isn’t even true; and her friend HEARS me. She turns around to confront me, but there are a half dozen people between us. We were still riding the escalator and I will admit, I have never been more grateful for innocent bystanders. She looks up at me and says “What did you say? Did you say she was naked?”To which I reply something incoherent while my mind tries to process how this situation went so terribly horribly wrong, and IF she does in fact intend on kicking my ass when the crowd of people between us disperse to their cars, thankful they’re not me.
She has a brief conversation with her friend, who wants to know WHO called her naked and why. Her friend points at me and I try to disappear into the railing. We’re almost to the bottom of the escalator, and I’ve still not actually said anything. The friend gives up, but not before making one final response: “That wasn’t a very nice thing to say.”
They walk away and all I can think is, “No, it certainly wasn’t.” I felt so awful about the whole thing that I forbid Paul to tell a soul and spent the car ride home mentally writing my Craigslist “missed connection” apology, which I promptly posted the moment I got home.
I’ve thought a lot about that night. In hindsight I think I was feeling self conscious because I was wearing sweatpants and a hoodie and my little outburst was some sort of retaliation to the judgment I felt for dressing in super casual clothes on a Saturday night. We were newly married and I think I must have felt threatened. This, my friends, is just ONE example of me and my stupid mouth. I have a more recent one, but the shame and embarrassment hasn’t worn off enough to tell it. I am not a nice girl.
I tell you this because I have noticed something. I’ve noticed the that the malevolent little voice inside me has quieted down a bit.
I helped a lady jump her car in a parking lot the other day. I gave a stranger a dollar at Walmart. I even volunteered to babysit a child I’d never met and refused payment. I think God just might be softening this mean ol’ heart. I think I might possibly be getting somewhere; and I think it’s somewhere closer to the person I’d like to be.