I’m really trying to resist telling the lady in the waiting room at the car dealership that the reason people think she is so young is because she acts young. As in immature, not as in youthful. She says “like” way too much. Her conversation is peppered with these phrases – “And I was like…” “And she was like…” “And they were like…”
How did we get to the point that we can no longer conjugate verbs? The word “like” can be used as a comparative. The Mini is like the VW bug. The Ford F150 is not like a Honda Civic. “Like” can be used to say that you are in favor of something. I like Italian ice, but I don’t like hot fudge sundaes. The word “like” is not meant to be used as a substitute for “said” or as a prelude to a description of someone’s behavior.
She’s telling her story very loudly to another stranger in the waiting room. She says that everybody assumes she dropped out of high school. That everybody assumes she is in her teens. From her story it sounds like she is about 24. She acts like she is 16. She also dresses young – Converse, jeans, a T-shirt. She wears no makeup so her acne is openly visible.
I’m trying to be good. I’m trying to be kind. I’m not doing very well, but I’ve not said anything to her yet, so that is a point in my favor.
I’m reminded of one time at water aerobics class. I’d been going for over two years by that point. This new lady starts showing up, 10 years older, fake tan, and a scratchy, twangy voice. She sounds like a long time smoker and uneducated to boot. Linda had obviously spent a lot of time working out. She had no fat on her. She wasn’t muscular though.
I can’t stand her. She’s uncouth. She’s grating. She’s loud. She thinks it is funny to dunk people. I hate being dunked. She hasn’t done it to me, but I’m wary. I’ve got my eye on her just in case she gets too close.
One day she was near me when the class was doing a move we’ve done many times before. And when I say we, I mean me and everybody else. She is an interloper. I’ve never seen her do this move. Maybe she’s been in other water aerobics classes. I don’t know, and I don’t care. For some reason she felt that it was her place to tell me how to do the move.
I ignored her. And I started disliking her more. And I kept on doing the move the same way I’ve always done it. Maybe I am doing it wrong. Maybe her way is right. But I don’t care. I didn’t ask her for her opinion or advice, and she isn’t the teacher.
Right now, with this girl, I’m trying not to be Linda. I want to tell this girl that at a minimum if she wants people to take her seriously she must stop saying “Like” all the time. But she doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know that I have a degree in English. She doesn’t know that I’ve tutored students from kindergarten to college for over ten years. She doesn’t know that I too have had a problem with people assuming I’m a lot younger than I am.
I want to fix her. Mostly, I want her to stop yammering. More importantly, she reminds me of me when I was that age.
So I sit here, and I write, and I pray, and I hope for redemption and healing, for myself and for her. I wasn’t planning on having that kind of emotional turmoil while sitting in the waiting room getting my car fixed, but when you are stuck somewhere for 7 hours, anything can happen.