It is said that we teach people how to treat us. If our self esteem is in order, we demand respect from the people in our lives. Perhaps some of the more valuable and important people we surround ourselves with are the ones we allow to be brutally honest with us even if it seems as if they are making fun of us. “Fun” is the key word there. There is a special comfort level with a select group whom we allow to say whatever comes to mind.
I was walking ahead of my sister and her daughter recently when I heard their conversation. There is a new, bright patch of gray hair on my head since I stopped dying it. They had been mocking me out for days saying it looked like I was wearing a white yarmulke or skull cap. They went on to criticize my figure and clothing. “Look at her socks.” “Look at her ass.” They were laughing. I thought about turning around and hitting them with my cane. When I heard them say, “No wonder she can’t find a boyfriend!”, I turned around and threatened them by waving my cane menacingly and telling them to shut up.
As Chaucer wrote in the prologue of “A Cook’s Tale”, “Many a true word is spoken in jest”.
I have no doubt that I look funny to anyone following me. But, it isn’t right to ridicule people, especially those with disabilities. My gait is awkward. My hair looks weird. I allow my sister and my niece to have fun at my expense because we love each other more than those we expect to treat us with absolute respect at all times. They are the exceptions.