A funny thing happened at barre class the other day. I’ve been trying to go every day of the week as part of a challenge involving a sticker chart. I’m surprised how much a publicly placed sticker reward chart still works on me at 42 years old. Anyway, I’ve been going to classes that I don’t normally attend. I had a new teacher and she seemed so familiar to me, I kept trying to figure out where our paths had crossed in the past. She taught class the following morning as well, and I went through this with her. Where have I seen you before? Could it be yoga? What about kids’ ballet class? Finally she just looks at me and says, “you know, I taught class yesterday, right? You saw me yesterday.” I cracked up and let her know that, yes, I remembered her from the previous day. Oh my God, I’m so glad she sought clarification, because what if she really thought that I didn’t remember her from a day ago? She would have been silently concerned that I was extraordinarily unobservant or else had dementia.
How many times have people assumed that I said or thought something weird and not sought clarification? How many people are hauling around these odd ideas about me that aren’t true? How many people have written me off because I said something that needed clarification? How many people have I written off for lack of clarification? I remember a mom that I used to sit by at the Swimtastic every Saturday morning, and we’d chat. Early on in the acquaintanceship she was sharing her concern about going to movie theaters she worried about knives in the seats. Was there some news item about knife-spiked movie seats that I missed? I quickly adjusted my thinking to assign an abnormal level of paranoia to this woman. Every week for the next couple of years we’d chat, and I’d silently be adding a grain of salt to her stories, assuming she was a crazy knife worrier. It was only years later that I realized that she must have said “lice” and I’d misunderstood her entirely. Because, you know, knife in a movie seat is something that someone would say, apparently. I can only claim chronic sleep deprivation for that misunderstanding.