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Flash forward to now, and I'm suddenly having to learn all this small town etiquette. I'm not sure I like it. I'm naturally very outspoken (shocked aren't you?) and it's difficult for me to hold my tongue in many situations. I fear that I may soon have to get a gag or something! You need examples?
Exhibit A) Being a small town in NZ, surrounded by vineyards and farms, there is a lot of good ol' countrified stuff to do. Seriously, we're just one step away from breaking out into a hoe down in the middle of the street some days. So this past weekend I decided on behalf of my lazy, tv loving, family that we should go out and actually do something. One of the schools out in the country was holding a Country Harvest Fair. Sounds awesome right? The spawnlets had pictures of ferris wheels and carousels dancing in their heads, Hotty Hubby had thoughts of drinking beer while perched on a hay bale and I was looking forward to cows.
When we got there, it was little more than a school fundraising gala, but we figured we'd stick around. I let the spawn hop on a trailer ride, I stared at some really ugly turkeys and the rear end of a sheep, and HH stared into space. Then I spotted it!
A table FULL of books was not 20 feet from me. I headed over there to check it out and the first thing that caught my eye was a box full of encyclopedia type books for kids, all about their health and internal systems etc. The two right at the front were all about reproduction and babies and how we develop, so I grabbed them. Then, because I was only blessed with two hands, I put them down on the table right in front of me so that I could continue to look through the box and see if there were any others I wanted.
Colour me shocked when this woman walked up, looked at me, looked at the books, TOOK the books and carried on browsing through the table in front of her.
Me: Um, I was actually going to get those.
Her: Well my grandchildren will love these.
Me: Yes, but I'd already chosen them, and just put them down for a minute.
Her: Well my grandchildren will just think they're great, they're all into this stuff now
My internal dialogue was going crazy the whole time, wondering how I could get the books away from her without seriously injuring her.
She wouldn't give them back. I had to walk away, biting my tongue til it hurt. All because this is a small town and chances are that she knows someone who knows someone who knows me.
Exhibit B) Girl Spawn, at the ripe old age of 7 and a HALF (!!) is still rather partial to dressing up once in a while. Fine with me. For "Book Character Day" at school last year, she dressed as Pinkalicious and we still have all the bits of the costume. She spent a good portion of Sunday afternoon dressed up like this.
In the late afternoon, I needed to run to our NZ version of Wal-Mart. She wanted to come. She was still dressed as a fairy, but what do I care? She's 7. And a half. If she wants to go out in public dressed like that, who am I to say no? So off we went.
We wandered through the store, picking up the few things we needed and then got to the kids department. I grabbed a pair of jeans in a flash of genius and sent her to try them on (so that I know what size to get when I go to the thrift store!). While she was in the changing room, I was approached by a woman who I can only surmise is what retired hookers, who moonlighted as clowns, look like. G-String hanging out the back of her ugly, ill fitting jeans. Boobs pushed up and out, and not even in a remotely attractive way. Make up to rival Bozo the clown and hair teased from here to kingdom come. She looked like an 80s reject. She sidled up to me and said:
You know, I think that in future it would be more appropriate for her to be wearing "real" clothes out in public.
As the voices inside me went absolutely nutso again and my hands started to flap at my sides just aching to bitch slap her, I heard a totally foreign voice come out of my mouth and say:
I'll take that under advisement.
And then my feet took me in the opposite direction of her when all the old me wanted to do was let loose a tirade about how in future it would be in the best interests of the public if she could please just stay indoors as I was pretty sure she was scaring every child within a 50 block radius and even the clowns were running home to rethink their wardrobes lest they be confused with her.
But I kept my tongue because in a small town like this, she probably knows someone I know. Like my mother.
Then there's just the little things like people cutting in front of me at the grocery store and not being able to cause a fuss. (Normally I'd wait for my spawn to speak up and just answer them in a snide manner, loud enough for the perpetrator to hear, but they were silent on the most recent occasion). Or idiot drivers and not being able to flip them the bird.
One of my friends commented on Facebook yesterday that I moved to NZ and became "Nice Maggie", that the old me would have bitch slapped the second woman and what happened to "old Meg".
Believe me, the "old Meg" is still there, itching to come out and play. Unfortunately I'm unable to do it in public most of the time. Small town
Do you live in a small town? Do you have to censor yourself? How do you deal with situations like that?
** I'm over at Looking For My Feet today as well **