Hold the peace


Last Saturday night, I was having dinner at my usual French spot, when a friend and his very pregnant wife sat down at the same table. At some point during dinner, the husband whipped out a cigarette and lit it, while I tried not to make a face and to discreetly prevent the smoke from getting into my newly-washed hair. But I felt my discretion and politeness evaporate when his wife extended her hand, and he placed the cigarette right in between her index and middle fingers.

It took all of my self-discipline not to swat the cigarette away and spit, “Git dat outcho mouf! What the hell is wrong witchu?” in my best Queen Latifah impersonation. At the end of the night, as I was leaving, and her husband asked if I would help with the public relations and marketing for That New Business Venture, all I could do was stare at him. I couldn’t trust myself to speak because if I did, I would probably have said something along the lines of “You and your pregnant wife smoke, therefore you are terrible parents, and therefore I don’t like you.”

queen latifah

In retrospect, I knew that maintaining my silence was probably the best course of action in that situation. My friend and his wife may be the poster child (or is it children?) for terrible parenting, but it was not my place to say so. It was not my place to tell the wife that if she couldn’t ditch her filthy habit for what would be the most important human being in her life, she didn’t deserve that human being. It was not my place to tell the husband that if he couldn’t even limit his filthy habit to the hours when he wasn’t within his pregnant wife’s breathing space, he didn’t deserve that human being either. (Obviously the human being I refer to is the unborn baby)

It’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn as an introvert with fleeting symptoms of Asperger Syndrome: to know when I should voice my opinions, and when I should just shut up. I think I learned it the best when I was trying to deal with my ex-boyfriend’s marriage. In learning to deal with circumstances beyond my control, I had to know what not to say that would make an already dire situation worse. I knew I couldn’t tell him that I hated him for being married, that I hated his wife for being married to him, and that I pushed the both of them off balconies in my head because I couldn’t do it in real life. And even though I failed to keep my thoughts to myself sometimes, in the end I realized that saying all those things would never change or improve the circumstances that defined our relationship. It was a lesson that I would carry with me into the next relationship.

So now I hold these unpleasant conversations in my head because I discovered that it is my brain’s way of playing out possible negative outcomes. I realize the truth is often hard to hear, but I also know that nothing can ever be taken back once it is thrown out there, so unless it involves someone I don’t really care to have in the remainder of my life, I’d rather keep it to myself.

Besides, the truth always shows itself, one way or another.

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