On Tolerating Jerks and Fools
I remember trying on clothes inside one of my favorite shops. I was feeling good – I felt like it was the day I would go home with ten shopping bags.
I tried on one shirt and went out to the big mirror right outside by fitting room. There was one other customer, probably in her forties, trying on a dress. She was parading it in front of someone who seemed to be her husband.
Or maybe he was her boyfriend. But no, they had this air of familiarity, like they lived in a little cozy personal space that nobody else could penetrate. Their privacy was theirs and theirs alone, despite the fact that the woman was twirling around in front of two salesladies who had plastered-on smiles on their faces.
And then I realized, her husband (boyfriend?) was staring at me.
I tried on about four tops and a skirt. I went with the skirt; it was cute. I returned the rest to the saleslady attending to me. “They don’t look good on me,” I explained with a smile.
And as I passed by the couple, the husband-boyfriend-man spoke to me directly. “What do you mean they don’t look good on you? Everything you tried on looked great on you.”
He was a jerk.
No, he wasn’t a jerk for giving me what seemed to be a tongue-in-cheek compliment. But he was a jerk for staring at me, the younger woman, the one he will never see again, the woman he doesn’t even know, while his significant other was trying her damnedest best to look pretty for him, listening with shame and disappointment while he complimented somebody else in front of her.
She was his. He was hers. It was so plain for everyone to see that they were together. Yet to him, she was just as good as invisible. She was trying too hard to please him, to make him notice that she exists. Why would she want to stay?
At that moment, I made a promise to myself: I would rather be alone than be miserable with someone who just wasn’t that into me.