Statements of Fact and Trying Not to Look Stupid
Fiona Clarke ’23
Welcome back to “Stupid Things People Say.” This week, our topic is “Living in the State of the Obvious (And Why You Should Immigrate).”
A few years ago, I was minding my own business at soccer practice, surrounded by a gaggle of chirping teenage girls, waiting in line for my turn to take a shot on the goal and watching in great dejection as my teammates continually missed the ball with their lumbering feet. My contemplation of fallen women was interrupted by the girl in front of me turning around and looking me dead in the eye for several seconds. Just as I began to break out in a cold sweat, this bright bulb said: “You have very blue eyes,” and turned back around. I was relieved that she had not started speaking in tongues, or cast some sort of hex on me, but I was also flummoxed. It was neither a compliment for which I could express gratitude nor an insult to which I could deliver a scathing comeback (read: gibber silently in rage). It was a statement of fact that opened up no avenue for conversation. I have no idea what I said in response, if I said anything at all other than “Oh.” With that characteristic raw honesty, I might have said “Yes, I know.” I might have feigned sweet ignorance and said, “Oh, really?” I have no idea.
I am well aware that I have blue eyes. I should be at this point; enough people have told me so by now. Yet I feel that I have never offered a suitable response to this sort of statement of fact. I wish I had the nerve to immediately point out the idiocy of whatever remark just dribbled into my ears and took up valuable space in my brain. I wish I had the grace to do so gently, and I wish I had the smarts to do so intelligibly on the spot. But in the moment, when someone tells me, as if he were proclaiming the terrible descent of the Lord in fire and hail, with all the strut and vigor of one garbed in camel hair, reeking of honey, crunching locusts beneath his feet, that I have blue eyes, all I can muster is a small sputtering wheeze and a foolish stretch of the jaw in sad mimicry of a grin. Now I’m the one who looks like an idiot. That’s just not fair. It’s just not right. If only people would stop telling me things I already know, I would look so much smarter all the time.