Thursday, May 07, 2009

You would think that, by now, I would have come up with a response.

Today, someone asked me if I was going to be ok. Last week, someone asked me what my prognosis was.

I know this is coming out of a place of concern, but what if my prognosis sucked? Do they think I would want to talk about it in the middle of the meeting (both of these instances occurred at meetings)? Or that I would want to share this personal information in the first place?

It has been suggested to me that I could say - with a smile - something like, "I appreciate your concern; you know, I just don't find it helpful to even think about questions like that."

But I wish I could come up with something that would also be funny. I suggested to a friend, who gets asked a lot about how she lost her leg, that next time, she should respond as follows:

Person: (Noticing missing leg) "How'd you lose your leg?"

My Friend: (Blank look...then, looks down; aggravated expression crosses face)
"Crap! I must have left it at the library just now! Gotta go!" (leaves)

I suppose this sort of thing is more easily done with strangers.


Sungold said...

I don't remember this happening in such inappropriate contexts with either of my husband's bouts with cancer. What he got instead was a lot of "we're praying for you," which hit him all wrong since his agnosticism survived a two-week stint in the ICU.

People don't really want to hear your prognosis, IMO. They just want to hear that you are going to be OK. Because that lets them carry on with the illusion that we don't have to confront our mortality if we just keep looking away from it.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Sungold, I think that's a really important point.

I can totally appreciate your husband's position, and you can't really say, "hey, knock that off" when people say they're praying for you. It must have driven him nuts.

Anonymous said...

Sungold is probably right.

How do you feel about saying something totally shocking and morbid? If the situation is right, it may make you feel better.

Personally, I only say "pray" when I know the person is religious. If I am not sure, I say "P&PT", and if I know they aren't, I just leave it alone.

DaisyDeadhead said...

When people asked my second husband the cause of his disability, he'd say, well...(furrowed brow, eyes heavenward, as if trying to recall), "I was just minding my own business one day and...." (sudden direct look into person's eyes)"...I was asking too many goddamn questions."

He looked scary, so their eyes would widen, or they'd swallow, or laugh. (He never laughed when he said it, or afterward.) I realize you can't usually get away with that in a professional environment, but it was a lot of fun to witness!

When it was a work environment and people asked questions, he'd ask, matter-of-factly, "Why do you want to know?" He said it really shut them up, since it made them suddenly aware of their own inappropriate nosiness.

belledame222 said...

yeah, that sort of response is the kind of thing that just doesn't quite work on friends, somehow. felt roughly the same way about someone's campaign to stop referring to straight peoples' spouses as "husband" or "wife." it's a nice fantasy, though...

the trouble with the perfect zinger is that in the fantasy it just sort of -ends- there; unless you can spin on your heel and leave it generally keeps going in a way that's decidedly anticlimactic, because too many people fail to properly stand there in silence with their jaw hanging open, you know?

"Praying for you"--these days I use a bright smile and "You too!" Which works nicely whether the prayers in question were sincere or passive-aggressive (i.e. "you're going to burn in hell, filthy heathen")