Hillary Clinton recently revealed how creeped out she felt when Donald Trump lumbered along behind her during the debates and how sorry she was she hadn’t told him to back off. Well, I recently had my own shout-out moment, and I’m proud to say I took it.
Now no one would ever accuse me of being a shy, weak and wilting flower. No one would ever say I’m one to hold back on my opinion. That said, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve mellowed a bit and try not to rock the boat quite so often. Yet, the other week in Reno, Nevada, I showed my true colors – and then some.
We were at Handsome Hubby’s (HH) 50th high school reunion. Go Reno High Huskies! I’ve met lots of his former classmates on previous occasions, and they are, like most groups of people, for the most part, very nice. A good many of them have remained in the area, so their reunions are more big family dinners than marathon catch-up sessions on decades-long family and career histories. This makes his reunions generally fun even for the non-reunioning spouse.
Reunion Festivities: Night One
But this year’s three-day event was a little different. After the opening night’s cocktail reception, we joined HH’s best friend, Johnnie, for a dinner at a primo Reno restaurant, Rapscallion by name. An additional classmate, a guy I’d never met, was going to join us at some point in the meal, but we proceeded to order.
Mid-way through our lovely, jolly meal, the classmate – let’s call him X – arrived. I was introduced. We shook hands, but X did not make eye contact with me.
He ordered a drink and his meal. We resumed eating. Chit chat commenced. X was quite an animated fellow. He had a lot to say – to Johnnie and HH that is, but not a word to me.
Not only did he not have a word to say to me, he cast nary a glance at me. He did not in any manner or shape or form acknowledge I was there or even alive and breathing and sentient.
At first, it was annoying. Then it was little weird. Then a lot weird. Then it was so weird I almost started giggling. Then I started getting mad. Then I got really mad. Then I thought I would explode.
What was going on? Had I met the guy sometime in the past and offended him? Was he friends with HH’s high school sweetheart/ex-wife? Was he an enemy of my late brother, a renowned attorney?
I glared at HH. I glared at Johnnie. Both tried to include me in the conversation, but X did not take the hint or did not care to take the hint.
My Shout-out Moment
Growing up I was surrounded by much older siblings, the two oldest, in fact, were 18 and 21 years older. In discussions, I frequently was outflanked by more articulate and knowledgeable family debaters. As a “good” girl, I was taught “you get more with honey than vinegar.” As a woman, I was taught to be “a lady,” hold my tongue and be a peacekeeper.
So, that evening in Reno, I tried to stay cool. I tried to be polite. I tried to be “a lady.”
Then X asked HH if he had any children.
That was it.
No matter how sexist a guy is, the “kids” question is the softball query that always goes to “the little lady.” That’s a no-brainer even in the most sexist circles.
I stood up.
“Does he have any children?” I asked. (Well, maybe I shouted.) “Do you mean, do we have any children?”
I wasn’t done.
“I have sat here throughout this entire meal and you have not once spoken to me, not once looked at me, not once in any way acknowledged that I am sitting here. I have never been so insulted in my life. You are the rudest person I have ever met.”
That was it. I was done. I had my shout-out moment. I turned to Johnnie and HH, apologized for disrupting their reunion dinner and said it was time to leave.
The Full Rapscallion
At the car, HH said three things – that I was 100% right; that he had never, ever seen me so angry, and that he hoped he never, ever, ever did anything that would make me that mad at him.
For my part, I too cannot recall a time when I felt so angry and also felt so 100% right. The guy’s behavior was completely unacceptable. There was no moral ambiguity about it. He was wrong. Without holding back, without second-guessing myself, without tears, I told him so. I felt great.
There were no 2 a.m. regrets about smart replies I cudda, shoulda made. No more Ms. Nice Gal. No more be “a lady.” Be polite. Be the peacekeeper. That was it. I took the advice of Howard Beale, played by the late Peter Finch, who famously urged us all in the movie Networkto shout “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Night Two of the Reunion
Johnnie came up to me, apologized for X’s behavior and told me he had a heightened respect for me. He and HH coined a new term for extreme anger – the full Rapscallion.
Later in the evening, X came up to me and apologized as well. I just nodded. I had said everything I needed to the night before. There was nothing left to add.
So much for holding back. I’m middle-aged now. I don’t have the time or the patience to hem and haw. I just say what’s on my mind. Sometimes it’s honey. Sometimes it’s vinegar.