I spoke with Betty today. I have to admit I was a bit worried about Betty‘s reaction to the article I wrote about her. I absolutely adore Betty and I would be very upset if I had hurt her feelings. Fortunately, Betty is a bigger person than I am and was quite amused by the whole thing. (Although I believe she absolutely hated the pseudonym “Betty”) She admitted that as soon as she read the title, she thought to herself, “That bitch is writing about me!” Bitch!? I was surprised! I was shocked! I was also quite amused. Betty assured me she that she meant “bitch” in as endearing a way as the word could possibly be used. But it sure got me thinking.
Why am I so critical of others? Why do I take it upon myself to point out the flaws of those around me and then have the audacity to offer the perfect solution? Who made me king? What real business is it of mine if Betty uses big words or not. She pointed out to me that she doesn’t really do it to me. Yet I feel compelled to help those around me to be better people, as if I know what is better. Is it because I have a Mary Poppins complex–practically perfect in every way? Or maybe I’m just a plain old Mr. Know-It-All.
Ask my friend, Linda. In grade school speak, Linda is one of my bestest friends ever. She knows me better than anyone and she’d probably tell you that I’m all three: A bitchy, Mary Poppins-ish Know-It-All. Of course, if anyone has a right to call me that, it would be Linda. Just today, I assured Linda that if I was to blog about her, I would refer to her as Ralph. But then I realized that anybody who knows me, would know Linda, and it would become rather obvious that she would be Ralph. Besides, I’ve already nicknamed Linda with “Evil” and I don’t know whether she’d appreciate Ralph as a replacement. But I digress.
Linda is subjected to my practically-perfect-in-every-way rantings on a daily basis. I torture Linda about everything she does from her aggressive driving to her excessive use of salt. (I couldn’t resist putting in those two jabs) And she listens to my diatribes about others with sincere interest and genuine amazement. I think she does realize that I often have a pretty good knack at getting to the heart of the matter or perhaps, I think, she just enjoys that fact that I am picking on someone else instead of her. You know, the better-you-than me philosophy.
While I was talking on the phone to Betty today, she pointed out that she does listen to me when I make comments or suggestions, much like Linda does. She feels that I am very good at analyzing the foibles of others. And I really don’t think she was placating me. (See, I can use big words, too) But if you read between the lines, you’ll see that the key point here is not that I am good at analyzing faults, just the faults of “others.” It seems that like the Emperor, Mr. Know-It-All has a new set of clothes. Ouch.
So I solemnly swear to adopt a live-and-let-live attitude and try to not be so critical of others. I promise that when I see Linda coat her Lean Cuisine with as much salt as I coat a rack of ribs with dry rub, I will not make any comments about using a salt lick instead. After all she’s eating it, not me. And when Betty starts to adduce her preponderance of vocabulary, I’ll simply eschew any obiter dicta. I know old habits die hard, but if I can quit smoking, then I can certainly quit being critical. I’ll just add it to my “not doing” list. And if I slip up, have patience. New clothes sometimes need to be broken in. Is it chilly in here?