A Little From Column A

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I’m fairly private about religion, political opinions, and social security numbers of family.

I keep the last item private for obvious reasons; the first two are more complicated. Mostly, I hate being categorized. My husband doesn’t get it.

“I love being put in categories,” he says. “I don’t understand why you don’t.”

I sigh. “Because I’m not ever put into good categories.”

My 18-40 white male breadwinner who works in the technical industry and has above-average intelligence looks back at me, confused.

From the limited mental capacity of over a decade of child-rearing, stay-at-home housekeeping, and intentional numbing; I attempt to talk expound.

Problem is, I have difficulty. Maybe it’s that limited mental capacity thing I admitted to just now. That, and I am nearly crippled at the idea of conversation. Challenges within conversation take out any other remaining limbs. Finish off with a general uncertainty and low self-esteem, and you’re lucky you caught the words I thought to type tonight.

I do not want to be categorized because of the limitations that puts on my character.

know that others’ opinions ought not to play into my self-esteem at all. I hear that I should just be me and everyone will love me for it. I think, sometimes, to try it out.

Then, telling the mother of an acquaintance that I think unborn babies preaching the gospel to spirits in heaven sounds wonky gets me labeled as anti-her religion. Asking a close friend to not disparage feminist viewpoints lands me in his radical/liberal/male-stabbing/unreasonable/lesbian camp. Suggesting that making one’s kids dress nicely for special events causes a sudden drop-off in the number of texts from the mother I suggested this to.

Where are all these people who will like me for who I am? Are they hiding in their own categories somewhere?

How can I expect to enjoy the sensation of being stuffed in a box when I’m left to sit uncomfortably, in the dark, and listen to the retreating steps of the one(s) who put me in there?

Picture Source: Pixabay

Petites Boîtes

When I was but a francophiliac teenager, we learned a song titled “Petites Boîtes.” The first stanza of lyrics is as follows:

Petites boîtes très étroites
Petites boîtes faites en ticky-tacky
Petites boîtes, petites boîtes
Petites boîtes toutes pareilles.

Translated back to the English version written by Malvina Reynolds from Graeme Allright’s fun-sounding word-rhymes, it says:

Little boxes, on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same.

The obvious gist of the song is that everyone goes through life staying in these boxes that look the same, that they’ve always been in: growing up in the same neighborhood, attending university, making children, their children follow exactly the same path; we even die and are put in boxes in the ground.

I hate boxes.

When I converse with people, I begin squirming at social categorization. Ironically, I have (of course) already placed the other person into neat little groups in my mind. Ah, he’s wearing a camouflage coat and just got out of his jacked-up pickup truck. As he strokes his mustache and stubble, I can tell he must be in favor of: hunting animals, no gun control, and (perhaps) being suspicious of all authority figures.

Meanwhile, I feel like parking down the block so no one sees that I came by minivan. I dislike discussing religion or politics. When asked about favorites, I sweat.

Thing is, I may fit into many of these boxes (petites boîtes -it’s so fun to say!). I just don’t like the idea that someone places me immediately into one, only one, and assumes I’ve all the associated characteristics of someone else who also might behave in a way that places him or her in there.

So… I tend to introduce myself in a way that shakes up typical introductory patterns. “Hi, I’m Chelsea and I can write with my toes,” or “My favorite food? Good food, definitely.” Or, most often, I’m going to just sit and nod and pretend I also like what’s-her-name-Gaines and that I actually watch TV and so they assume I can hang out in their little corner of interests.

Mature, I’m sure. Perhaps you, the reader, have a better approach.

In the meantime, I’ve got to get into my mom-van and pick up children from school, as part of a carpool. I’ll be listening to alternative music on the way and acting like I own a much different vehicle.

I’ve always wanted a lifted pickup truck and camouflage jacket…