Stupidity Will Not Offer You a Seat

Years ago, when we moved to a new and very rural area, I became a woman on a mission. No, not to root out stupers (short yet again, for indefatigably stupid persons) from under boulders and behind shrubbery; but to find playmates and pals for my kids and I.

Houses around here are spaced far apart, and there really were no neighborhood young ‘uns back then. My children didn’t attend the local schools. We homeschooled. We’d been part of a wonderful homeschool organization in the city so I searched for another. I felt fortunate when I finally located a homeschool group.

We met them at a park and immediately, I realized I didn’t fit in. I was fresh from the big city. I wore makeup and jewelry. My clothes were still in fashion… and they were colorful. The moms eyed me like I was a walking affront to motherhood. I realized I had to prove myself. But first, I hoped they’d offer me a seat.

These ladies were sitting around a large picnic table when my children and I arrived. There were only six moms, but bags and sweaters had confiscated all available seating space. So I stood by the head of the table…for almost forty-five minutes.

No one offered me a seat; they systematically ignored me. I introduced myself and kept a smile in place. I asked questions and did my best to join in the conversation. I might as well have been a gnat in a coconut. My very existence was in jeopardy. I swallowed a scream the size of a softball. I wanted out. But I watched my kids having a grand old time playing. Apparently, these unselfish parents had passed on all their smarts and manners to their children, leaving nothing for themselves.

I persisted, catching mothers eyeing me every time I looked away. Finally, I managed to engage one mom in conversation. She was a librarian, and I happened to be a big fan of the library. I asked her advice on good books and after a few minutes, she finally asked if I’d like to sit down. It wasn’t easy to uproot my weary feet, but I managed. She relocated a backpack just for me.

Why didn’t I ask them to move so I could sit? Firstly, I was seriously considering a hasty retreat. Making contemptuous remarks under my breath or out loud was another option, but it was not the place for freedom of expression as youngsters were present. Lastly, I was in the midst of my stupidity studies and rapidly formulated a hypothesis on the spot: Stupidity will not offer you a seat.

They asked me no questions so they learned nothing that would garner such immediate discrimination; I figured it had to be my appearance. Perhaps my faux diamond earrings were not to their liking.

Image PreviewWhy did they dismiss me so quickly? Because stupidity judges by appearances and only appearances. To these women, I didn’t look acceptable according to their limited standards. I didn’t look like them. The Cookie Cutter Standard reared its empty head. Silly me was trying to make a decent first impression. Stupidity is a harsh judge.

I went back a few more times to make merry with these moms at the behest of my children. But thankfully, we all made friends elsewhere and moved on.

Make sure you create a complete picture of another person before deciding to place them in the stuper category. And even then, give them another chance. After that, send them to me.

Thinking is an art.


9 Responses to “Stupidity Will Not Offer You a Seat”

  1. Sarah says:

    There is no way I would have lasted. Rudeness should be outlawed. Sounds like these people had very low self-esteem.

  2. Jillian says:

    OMG.. that would have infuriated me!!!

    A lot of my husbands friends are a few years older than we are and have kids. They are friends with other couples… who have kids. All these women are housewives.

    Imagine my awkwardness when for the first time I had to hang out with these moms. I looked nothing like them (aside from being the only Black person there, I’m a bit of a tomboy and lack a lot of what some would call “femininity” – whatever that is) and my interests are vastly different from theirs. I would much rather have a beer and watch football, while they preferred to sit around discussing their children, hair, nails, and clothes… Bleh. Anyways, the entire time I tried to make conversation I was met with looks and side glances. I’m pretty friendly and pride myself on being able to find common ground with most people, but WOW… this was one group that wasn’t having any of it. I wound up going outside and spending the rest of the night with my husband and “the guys”… WAY more fun!

    Does this mean Stupidity is also exclusionary?

  3. Agnes Mildew says:

    Hmm. I have attended Mother & Baby groups along these self-same lines. They are tedious, aren’t they? It’s enough to make you give up and sit at home all day watching Rikki Lake. It really is that bad.
    Then again, you can always stick the kids in nursery and go back to work.
    Infinitely preferable!

  4. marnini says:

    I have had days where I was dressed down in comfy clothes, hair pulled back etc and got glances from the put together moms. And I have had days that I got myself together and polished my appearance a bit only to receive sideway stares from the laid back moms.
    I have decided, I am who I am, one day I may decide on sweats and the next day I may be wearing heels. Everyone looking my way can accept me or not. Whatever!

  5. Starlily says:

    Wow Keli, I think lots of people can relate to this post. I once had a similar experience checking out a new home schoolers group. They had the ‘executive’ sitting at the table, and the rest of us hanging on the fringes. Meanwhile, the ‘executive’ children were outside bullying the rest.

    Like you with the librarian, I found someone I was able to engage in conversation, despite the ‘looks’ I was getting that I had dared infiltrate the circle, but thankfully as you mentioned, there are many other more pleasant opportunities to meet friends. That was a one-time-test-drive for us.

    I think one of the great things about many home schoolers is that if we are not happy with a situation we roll up our sleeves and invent something new… Not surprisingly, in the area I spoke of several more welcoming, fun and friendly groups have sprung into existence 😉

  6. Elaine says:

    I agree that most of us can relate to this post seeing how we are always being judged on appearance and the total package we present. You did handle the situation with style and grace in a very uncomfortable first meeting. Kudos to you!

  7. Keli says:

    Rudeness is one of stupidity’s closest synonyms! I am in the midst of a study on self-esteem and stupers and you’re right one: stupers suffer from low self-esteem. Why else would they resort to stupidity?
    I’ve noticed that friendliness is unwelcome by some stupers. This really stumps me! You handled it well by moving on to a better, more deserving of your company crowd!
    As you know, the office has a whole other set of stupers to stave off! There really is no escape.

  8. Keli says:

    There’s just no pleasing stupers, is there?
    You are right. The hs group we joined before this one was the best! The best part of hsing is its flexibility. One can leave the stupers behind.
    Thank you!

  9. Jennifer says:

    I’ve had experiences like this many times and it always hurts. We want to be “seen” and valued for what we are, not for what little bitty box someone can shove us into. The important thing is not necessarily to “conform” per se, but to be true to your vision of yourself and your life as you want to live it. Case in point: today I took my granddaughter to the grocery store. It was late afternoon and we had been at home all day. While she was napping I showered, dressed in a skirt and a top frosted with lace, carefully applied my makeup, and instead of doing my hair, opted for a classy broad-brimmed hat.

    Mind you I was only going to the Kroger three miles away.

    I got some stares from the sweat-pant-clad, zero-makeup, no-hairstyle moms, and maybe a few seemed unfriendly, but I don’t care. I didn’t stare back at them rudely; they are just as free to wear what they wish as I am. But at the age of 51 I have learned that this is not a dress rehearsal. You live exactly one time, and it matters to me how I present myself. It makes me feel good to look nice and to wear perfume and earrings and everything that goes with it.

    A sweet, lovely, and very dressed-up African-American woman walked up to me in the cereal aisle and told me I looked beautiful, and as she looked exceedingly stunning as well, I returned the compliment.

    Life is too short to be a snob; people need encouragement and they need acceptance, no matter how they prefer to turn themselves out.

    Sorry for blogging, Keli. You inspire me. Great, great post as usual.

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