Hey Cap’n & Crew,
Fairly straightforward question here. Sometimes my face can be a traitor…it turns bright red and gets really hot at any extreme emotion, particularly embarrassment. I am sure many people can relate!
So here’s the question: What would you suggest for scripts for when someone (99.9% of the time it’s an older man, at least old enough to be my father if not grandfather) gives a weird, flirty, unwanted compliment (for example, how beautiful I am or some such nonsense), triggering a red-face explosion, and then they comment on how they made me blush. Now I am not only red-faced with embarrassment but also with anger and helplessness. You just KNOW that they’re pleased as punch with themselves and see nothing wrong with flirting at an unwilling participant because hey, they’re old and married and male! No harm done, right?
If these were random men on the street, I’d have no problem ignoring them or coming back with a scathing retort. However, this most often happens when it’s a client, a family friend, a friend’s family member, or fellow hobbyists. Particularly with the clients, I can’t give them a death-glare like I really want to.
Thanks in advance!
Red (Wishing I Was) Dead Revolver
For any gregarious older dudes reading this, when you comment on the involuntary physical reaction of a young female acquaintance or colleague, we don’t find you adorably avuncular. We find you creepy and domineering. You shown yourself to be someone who uses a another person’s distress reaction as a perceived weakness that you can use to pick on them. Or as someone who deliberately tests and pushes boundaries to groom people for further manipulation. Some people wear their handles on the outside — it doesn’t mean you have to pull them.
So, Jolly Old Fellows, let’s go back in time to puberty, when a screen door shutting in a distant room could give you an instaboner.
Would it have been cool for people to point at it and comment on it and see if they could get it to happen more? Like, teachers, cafeteria staff, fellow students, people on the bus? Would you have enjoyed that particular attention?
Even if this is a highly specific fantasy of yours, would you appreciate it if it happened all the time? Everywhere you went? From everyone you met? “Oh, hilarious, Jolly’s penis is acting up again. Everyone look! What’s the matter, don’t be so sensitive! We’re just joking, Jolly!”
Howabout as you aged? Like, in work meetings? Where maybe it affected people’s perception of your qualifications? “We are considering you for the promotion, but….awwwwww, buddy, I’m glad you’re excited, too!” “Well, we could have Jolly do the presentation, but not if he’s going to release the Kraken again like he did last time.”
Or religious ceremonies? “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to join this man and this woman in…Oh Jolly, not again.”
It would be pretty violating and patronizing to have someone assume a lot of stuff about you due to an involuntary physical reaction, right? So knock it off. When a person is blushing, give them space and don’t comment on it. It’s just their face being a face, it doesn’t need your “Well aren’t you a precious young LADY” commentary.
Back to you, Red. Snappy comebacks don’t defeat ingrained sexism and ageism on their own, and you have to walk a fine line with clients. I wonder if being super-boring and factual isn’t the answer.
- “Yes, my face does that sometimes. Now, about the pricing information…”
- “Yes, the capillaries in my face sometimes fill rapidly as an involuntary reaction to stimulus. So, about rehearsal….”
- “I DO know that tends to happen, and I definitely do not like it when people call attention to it. So, what were we talking about it?”
- “Yes, and it’s hiLARious.” (Think how Professor Snape would say this.)
Save “It’s a fight or flight reaction. Still deciding which,” for special occasions.
And look for patterns. Someone who realizes that their “joke” is not funny and backs off immediately when you don’t reply favorably probably made an honest mistake. Someone who looooooooves to make you blush and comments on it at every turn and makes it about how sensitive you are when you ask them to stop is someone you don’t want to be around, ever, because they are making creepy sexist power plays designed to maximize your discomfort. Ew.