• March 22, 2018, 10:37:12 PM

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Author Topic: My ears are still burning  (Read 2118 times)

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My ears are still burning
« on: March 01, 2018, 09:02:23 PM »
One of my best friends, 'Abby' and her husband were visiting this week from Cali.  We were best buds all through school, then almost immediately after graduation she found Mr. Wonderful, and moved 3,000 miles away with him.  They've been married over 20 years now, no kids.  Whenever we've been out with them, and she's asked if she has children, she'll shrug and answer 'No, I have dogs. They're cheaper.' 

This never fails to get a knowing chuckle from parents.  Except last week. 

Saturday evening a neighbor was having an open house for pretty much the whole neighborhood,  with the invite stating 'the more the merrier.'  So my my husband and I, with Abby and her husband went. 

One thing about 'Abby': she's SUPER outgoing - the type who starts conversations in the line at the supermarket, in the waiting room at the dentist's office, etc. etc. etc.  Not a shy bone in her body.  There were at least 200 people at this party -- the house is huge, the patio is huge, the lawn is huge - and there were a lot of people there I'd never met.  Abby took it upon herself to go around with me to meet all of them. 

One woman was there with twins boys who looked to be around age 5. 

So we introduce ourselves, and the woman's first question after she gave us her name was to ask if we have kids.  (Who does that??)  Abby went first, giving her standard answer, and the woman's reply was something like, 'And you're proud of that?.  Instantly she barreled into some political diatribe, peppering it with a few religious talking points, and then getting the boys involved, pulling them to stand on each side of her, and going on about all her sacrifices for them, while they struggled and kicked and whined about wanting to go back to play with the kids they'd been playing with.

I wish I could have come up with a clever jab, but this woman was like a freight train.  We then tried to back off -- 'Ooh, look!  Key lime pie!'  but she literally started to follow us, her mouth going the whole time.  And there was no getting a word in edgewise. 

She finally ran out of steam when one of the boys asked for help in finding the bathroom.  If he hadn't, I picture us still at the house, everyone else having gone home, and the host and hostess retired to bed, the boys asleep at her feet, while she continues to explain that Abby (and myself, too, not having children) are 'unnatural women.'


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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2018, 09:33:42 PM »
In that situation (with 200 people there) I would have said the following, interrupting her diatribe.

You: *in a firm, slightly cold voice* I'm sorry you feel that way.

Then I would have grabbed Abby, your significant others and gone to talk to another group of people.

Unfortunately if you are going to see this woman around town still, maybe some other posters have better advice.


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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2018, 08:40:30 AM »
I would have just interrupted with "Sorry, it was a joke. I didn't mean to offend you." and then walked away. If she followed I'd turn with a very severe "Please stop harassing us!" and then start walking toward one of the hosts.

rose red

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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2018, 09:10:14 AM »
Since she won't let anyone get in a word edgewise, I would just look at her coldly and walk away. If she follows, yes, talk over her to point out she's harassing you all.


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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2018, 10:35:01 AM »
I am very fortunate, being a childless woman of child-bearing age, that I've never been rudely approached in this way. The closest I've experienced was a doctor (at an urgent care clinic, not my regular doctor) asking if I had children, and when I said no, replied with something along the lines of how I was approaching the age where women can't or shouldn't have children anymore (I was single at the time and most single women in their 30's really do not need to be reminded of how short their fertility window is!!). I was sick with the flu, so at the time I just stared at him and continued the conversation that actually pertained to the reason I was there. But what I wish I had said, and what I hope I would say to any other person who made any rude comment about the fact that I'm childless, is something like "Do you know how many women struggle with fertility issues? You should really think before you speak." Whether I am one of those women, or am childless by choice, is not relevant. Bonus points for anyone who is able to fake bursting into tears and running away. But the sad thing is, this would have caused real tears for many women. And I don't think that the fact that Abby made a joke automatically means it's not a sensitive issue.

After she followed you, I think you were well within your rights to firmly tell her to back off and stop harassing you, or to decide to teach her 5 year old kids some new words  >:D (Kidding on that last part!)


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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2018, 11:40:05 AM »
Unfortunately, when someone is this pushy and obnoxious, there isn't a great way to deal with them. Most people learn  to respond to social cues. If you ask a question or make a statement, you can usually tell if they don't like what you said, by their look, tone, words, or body language. There are a few people out there who are self-centered to the point where they don't care about your views, only their own. You start out trying to nicely end the topic. If that doesn't work, you have a choice to either put up with the harangue, or do whatever it takes to get away.

I don't think OP should worry about what anyone thinks about this. In my experience, when someone is as obnoxious as the woman in this story, others see the same poor behavior that you see. You can just forget about it and move on.


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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2018, 09:52:57 AM »
I'm just wondering why such an unhappy person is even at a party.

gramma dishes

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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2018, 10:09:44 AM »
I think I'm getting mean in my old(er) age.  I think I would have just looked her squarely in the eye and said "What's wrong with you?"   ???


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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2018, 11:06:04 AM »
I would have just interrupted with "Sorry, it was a joke. I didn't mean to offend you." and then walked away. If she followed I'd turn with a very severe "Please stop harassing us!" and then start walking toward one of the hosts.

Yep.  Don't engage the crazy. 


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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2018, 10:13:46 AM »
A lot of the social manoeuvres we suggest on this site, such as bean-dipping, are for dealing with the well-intentioned, even if possibly clueless. They allow people on both sides to retreat from embarrassing situations without hostility or loss of face. They don't work for people who are actively hostile, and don't care if they make a scene. The person you've diverted will hopefully not even realize you used some social jiu-jitsu to escape. If they do realize what happened, decent people would avoid making the situation worse by calling you out.

You wouldn't be able to divert, say, a mugger, by going "what a lovely knife you have there! Where'd you get it? I always wanted one like that." And in this case, you're being verbally mugged. You are in your rights to say "I'm sorry but I do not want to discuss this further," and refusing to recognize her afterwards. No, you don't have to stay trapped for hours waiting for her to finish haranguing you, any more than you have to hand over your wallet to avoid hurting the mugger's feelings by saying "no."

This is a case where *she* has broken the social contract of "being nice", deliberately and aggressively. You don't have to pretend she's behaving in an appropriate manner.
"The sky's the limit. Your sky. Your limit. Now, let's dance!"


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Re: My ears are still burning
« Reply #10 on: Today at 05:35:27 AM »
I find it ironic that on one hand she was berating you for not having kids, but on the other hand, she was going on about what a huge sacrifice kids are! As if that's going to encourage you to suddenly start reproducing!