I’ve always been the kind of person whom you can take at face value.
If I were going to be duplicitous, I’d get a better line. I’d present myself with more appeal. I’d polish my smile, put a lilt in my voice, and learn a few more gaudy adjectives.
That I speak my mind cannot be denied. I’ll compliment you, call you out, lift you to the heavens, and drag myself down with the coldest assessment of my worth you’ve ever heard. I don’t mince words. That comes to disaster at times. A woman once asked me how I liked her curls. I meant to ask if she had gotten a permanent. Instead, my true sentiments twisted my tongue and I blurted out, “Did you do that on purpose?”
I’m the kind of woman who gathers the leftover flapjacks at the community dinner to freeze. Popped in the toaster, spread with sunflower seed butter, adorned with cut peaches alongside strong, dark coffee, they make a wonderful breakfast. But I can’t bend to retrieve coins which slip from my spastic hands. So I invented the concept of Angel money. I leave the scattered pennies for the guardians who have protected me through every challenge.
I’m not the kind to shrink from my mistakes. I tend to overplay them. I rewrite every dialogue until I hit upon the better way of phrasing something — less abrasive, more kind. Then I watch for a chance to apologize and rephrase. I’ll listen when others do the same. I like do-overs. I’m not sure it’s forgiveness, exactly. I recognize, after six decades, that we’re all just stumbling through the weeds, looking for a path to paradise.
The other day someone confessed to being uncomfortable with my disability. I used to get that line a lot. I don’t know if people accept differences more these days or whether they no longer readily admit their disgust. I thought we’d gotten more tolerant but maybe bigotry has just gone underground.
I accepted the person’s pronouncement. Later, I mentioned the exchange at my community dinner. One of my neighbors said, Would you want to be friends with somebody who rejects you like that? A fair point. But what I really want is to step out onto a level playing field, where the color of one’s skin, the size of one’s bank account, or the gait which propels one across the street play no part in anyone’s judgment of your worth.
I’m that kind of person.
It’s the seventeenth day of the seventieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.