The "Does He Take Sugar?" phenomenon I put to you in the last post actually has several other faces. One that features most often in my life could be called "Ignorant, Naughty Schoolgirl". This occurs when I am seen to have made a mistake, indeed, often have made a mistake. The perpetrator then fixes me with a look which conveys both disgust and impatience - or even patience - and manages to correct me while making me feel a hopeless, inconsiderate waste of space: a naughty Schoolgirl' sensation; all this in a voice of compassionate understanding which feels infantilising in itself
I know, I know: I must take responsibility for my own reactions and I do, but I still don't like the way it makes me feel. One of the concomitant fall-outs is that I lose the capacity to justify myself or point out that I am factually right on the occasions when I am. Perhaps this highlights another potential hazard of older age: confidence, while increased in terms of sticking to a difficult truth, diminishes in terms of perceived tests of friendship and relatedness. In fact, the whole 'naughty schoolgirl' thing tends to depend on ones own particular fault line. Mine seems to be a concern that I may be seen as not-wantable. Yours may be, for instance, that you think only of yourself, or that the world owes you whatever. At the forty end of my spectrum there was time to 'cure' the fault that was irritating the other: time for another chance. Now, at this ancient end, the twig may fall off the tree before there has been any opportunity for reparation. How to reconcile that with the elderly tendency to be direct and imperious is a conundrum I find disheartening and insoluble. Quite often my dodgy steps are to do with an unfamiliarity with the electronic world. I have been to extraordinary lengths to track down over days information or an object. The Guru taps out a few digits on his phone and has the answer in seconds. To be fair, he doesn't subject me to 'the look' when I do something stupid and/or old-fashioned. I did risk buying cat food on the Internet - does it take a capital 'i'? - and was landed with a bag so big there is no cupboard to take it and I doubt my three and a half-year-old cat will have life enough to eat it all even if I have life enough to serve it.
Someone who was staying with me once accused the cat of being evil and opportunistic. (I think he had used a hand-basin as a facility). "He's a cat" I protested. Me, I'm an old lady, evil and opportunistic as well I might. Prynhawn da