Shouldn’t You Be Off Atoning for Apartheid or Something?

On Saturdays, I have a standing volunteer gig that typically involves free lunch, brought in for the folks I’m working with, but we’re welcome to it as well. This past Saturday there was cake, so I snagged a small slice and sat down to enjoy its chocolate-frosted goodness. Now, on this particular day I found myself working with a volunteer for the first time who was a total horse’s rear end.


* He was from South Africa. That’s not the offense. The offense is that when I asked him where he was from he said, “South Africa” with such self-importance that I wondered if he expected me to drop a curtsy.

* He was in his late 30s which, again, not the offense, but it will be germane in a second. Anyway, he kept making references to Korean females. Instance No. 1—While giggling at his cell screen he informed me that he was texting “a Korean girl” whom he was trying to teach American slang like “straight dope.” Instance No. 2—A TV at the opposite side of the room had the LPGA tournament on it. He said, “I love watching the Korean girls golf.” I said, “Uh, why?” Without taking his eyes off the screen, he said, “Because they’re so cute.” And here’s the kicker: one of the other regular volunteers who was not there that day, whom he kept inquiring about to her brother who was there, is a Korean-American girl. Who is in high school.

* Having made several comments to ostentatiously reveal himself to be religious (and slyly handing out “Jesus saves” pamphlets to anyone in the decidedly non-religious venue whom he could snare), he asked when I was getting married. I answered and he said, “I’m guessing you’re living in sin now?” Not content that he’d made his point, he followed it with, “Well at least you’re making it right,” then repeated that for effect so I might know that even though I was a sinner, I was still going to be bathed in Jesus’ forgiving light come 1 p.m. on October 25.

But it was not until the next comment that I almost came over the table at him. As I was starting to nibble on my cake, he said something about the food and I chuckled and said, “Yep, I justify eating cake now as pre-wedding research.” At this, he did a full body scan and said pointedly, without smiling, “What does your fiancé think of that plan?”

(needle on the record)

“My fiancé is perfectly happy with his size-6 fiancée,” I shot back, while doing some quick mental calculus to figure out if jabbing my fork into his torso would delay my heavenly salvation. I determined that at the very least it would require me to go get a new fork, thus delaying my cake eating, and as such wasn’t worth it.

So in addition to judging me for my cohabiting lifestyle, Churchy Magoo the Korean-Ogling Fat Caliper took it upon himself to remind me I should want to stay nice and tiny for my man. Not that it matters, but allow me to reiterate that I am a size 6. And 5’7″. And I work out just about every day. And because it does matter, allow me to iterate that I’ve spent a fair amount of time during the last 15 years grappling what’s been referred to delicately as my eating “situation.” It has ebbed and flowed lo these many years, but when it’s flowed, it has meant that I don’t eat, or that any eating that does occur doesn’t end in swell fashion. Thankfully, the good stretches are now measured in years, not days or weeks, but as with many brain-wiring snafus that lead to addiction or disorder, the impulse, if not the activity itself, never completely goes away.

Of course, this clown would have no way of knowing that. He’d have no way of knowing that a comment like that can set a person back days, weeks, or even longer. That a comment like that can lead to frustration and anxiety and internal vows to renew or redouble unhealthy behavior. But I’m finding that there’s something about talking with an engaged person that makes people feel they are at liberty to broadcast their most obnoxious opinions about everything up to and including: appearance, money, family, women’s behavior, men’s behavior, procreation, religion, and cultural and geographic bias (insert your favorite stereotype about the Irish, the Polish, or people from Texas here and trust me, my fiancé and I have heard it.)

But it wasn’t worth it to tell him all of this. It was only worth it to finish my cake, and know that he could eat it, too.


13 Responses to “Shouldn’t You Be Off Atoning for Apartheid or Something?”

  1. K Says:

    Urge to punch a sanctimonious a-hole right in the nards rising… rising…!!!

    You are the picture of both decorum and quick wit.

  2. talkingbudgie Says:

    I wouldn’t have let him get away with his balls intact. You showed incredible restraint.

  3. I-66 Says:

    Bastards. They think just because they got the World Cup in 2 years that they can say whatever they want. I mean, it is, after all, the best sporting event in the world… but still. Eff that guy.

  4. papercupp Says:

    I have to tell you what – being a woman and having had similar issues in the past as it regards to food and body image – His behavior is disgusting. Unfortunately, I am certain he does not know better. For me nothing brought back these feelings more than when I went to try on dresses … The first question every dress fitter asked “How much do you plan to lose before the wedding??” I am 5’7, size 6-8. Maddening. Even if I found a dress I liked, I moved on to a new shop and took my business elsewhere.

  5. J. Says:

    Oh dear. I’m very sorry. *shaking head.* Also – not to make you feel worse, but just to prepare you – but I’ve found that those types of comments don’t end once you make the trip down the altar. I’ve been married for almost a year – and people are always saying things like – “Oh, are you managing to keep first year weight off?” I think to myself “Why are you asking? If you have to ask, apparently I’m not!!!” I just have to remind myself (and you, too) that these people don’t think when they talk. Grr…

  6. Mary Ellen Says:

    Eh. Even assholes volunteer.

  7. Shannon Says:

    I’ll never figure out why so many people think women’s bodies are public property, and therefore OK to comment on. She’s fat! She’s disgustingly skinny! It’s awful.

    As a fellow “situation” survivor, I’m very impressed by how you handled things. I would have stuck a fork in his eye.

  8. etcetera Says:

    when i think of all the zingers i know your razor sharp and lightnight fast wit could come up with in his presence and then i think that you refrained from using any of them… well… i get a little sad. please, next saturday, fight fire with napalm.

  9. lacochran Says:

    What a jerk. Let’s hope the Koreans don’t give him the time of day.

  10. Bridal Bird Says:

    Thanks all. He was indeed a total moron. And I’m with you Papercupp. Any time (and it happened more than once) some chippy asked me that question at a salon, we were done at that salon.

  11. Mort Says:

    Great post, what an idiot.
    I’m only sorry to see that it is linked to a country.
    This is just a general a$$hole, the fact that he is South African has nothing to do with it.
    I-66: nice generalization there 😉

  12. graeme Says:

    Nah, if he is a Saffa white male in his late thirties, poor boy was brought up to be willfully ignorant. Don’t forget to point at him and laugh the next time you see him. These SWM’s (stupid white men/madams) need to be forcibly made aware that they are not in fact the Ubermenchen. Take as much time as you want to lovingly point out to him what a loser in reality he really is. Of course he won’t believe you, ‘cos being of that generation Saffa, you are not actually a real person, but an interactive cardboard cut-out..much like a Korean I guess.

  13. SingLikeSassy Says:

    Next time just bust him in the head ’til the white meat show then throw up two fingers as you roll out.

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