January 14, 2013

What Kind of Sick Person Are You?

Ahh, the flu season. When adults are reduced to crying out for their mommas and sales of hand sanitizer skyrocket. There’s nothing like it; and there are definitely distinct types of flu sufferers.

Recognize any of these?

The Wounded Animal
In the opening scene of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch shoots a rabid dog. The dog was perfectly fine before the disease, but once he contracted it, he went mad and terrorized the town, attacking people at will – even those who might have offered help. The Wounded Animal sick person is kind of like this. He/she is a normally upbeat, go-getter puppy-like being. But when sickness hits, look out. The flu won’t make them go mad. It makes them go crabby; and The Wounded Animal snaps, bites and growls at everyone around them.
Recognizing The Wounded Animal: They respond to “How are you” with guttural noises, grunts. The asker is often heard saying with a puzzled look “All I did was ask how he/she was doing.”
Handling The Wounded Animal: Leave them alone. Seriously, don’t even look at them. If you insist on helping them heal up with gramma’s magical chicken soup, push a bowl into their general area and run away quickly; or feed it to them with a long-handled spoon to avoid getting bitten.

The Weeble
Remember Weebles? You know: “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” And it was true. You could push those things down, and they’d pop right back up. It was great fun for five-year-olds, but not so much with The Weeble sick person. He/she needs to fall down and stay down, or rather, lay down, but they refuse. They show up at the workplace, PTA meetings, church services, behind you in line at the grocery store, coughing, wheezing, and achoo-ing on you and everyone within a two-foot radius.
Recognizing The Weeble: They don’t give you a chance to ask them how they are. Instead, in between hacking, sneezing and grabbing their gut, they say “Oh I’m just fine. Really I am.” They may also have a space heater in their office to crank up when they get the chills, and a personal fan to cool down during fever spikes.
Handling The Weeble: The healthiest way to handle The Weeble is to stay away. Shun them. If you must communicate with them, email or call. Holler down the hallway. Fly paper airplane notes into their cubicle. Bathe in hand sanitizer if you come into any contact with them. Just avoid getting what they’ve got, because chances are that it’ll have you wobbling and falling down. Hard.

The Storyteller
James Taylor, Randy Travis, Vince Gill. All great storyteller musicians who paint pictures and weave heartfelt tales through their words and melodies. However, The Storyteller sick person paints pictures to pull you in, in the worst way. They want you to feel the runny nose and upset stomach. They want you to know just how bad they had it and will go to any and all lengths to put you there in the bathroom, bedside or wherever it was the worst for them.
Recognizing The Storyteller: Their response to “How are you” takes no less then fifteen minutes, and is punctuated by “…and then” and/or “you wouldn’t believe what came out of…” and/or “hey, where-are-you-going-I’m-still-talking.”
Handling The Storyteller: Let them go on while occasionally glancing at your phone. If their monologue nears the ten minute mark, just say “Oooh…I’ve gotta take this call.” Which is perfectly acceptable. They’ll find someone else to listen to their story. Besides, if they’ve got enough strength to tell a flu saga, they really aren’t that sick anymore anyway.

Of course, there are more: The Island (me) – they just want to silently suffer in solitude; The Cling-On (Jamie) – they consistently put you in germs’ way by making you touch them, e.g. “Feel my forehead” “Scratch my back” “Rub my temples;” and of course, The Trooper (Georgia) – they get hit with it, don’t complain throughout and bounce right back after a day or two.

So…what kind of sick person are you?

January 4, 2013

Can't See the Silly for the Kwanzaa

“He/She just can’t see the forest for the trees.” That’s an old saying that means someone’s missing the big picture because they’re too bogged down in the details.

Enter Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman. This guy planted a whole bunch of trees in a press release stating“"Almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa -- just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans…"

I thought it was stupidly funny; but in the meantime, not everyone shared my sense of humor. There’s been outcry on television, radio, Facebook --furor over his feeble attempt at dismantling Kwanzaa, attacking Black traditions and whether the man is a racist or not.

I don’t know if Senator Grothman is a racist, but what I do know is that Kwanzaa sure as heck isn’t going anywhere. The Senator's words are just that. Words. Hurtful to some who cherish the holiday. But just words. Silly words.

So, let’s look past the trees here just for a minute and break down the part of his statement that’s caused a rather misguided, I think -- ruckus: “Almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa…”

Does Glenn Grothman know all black people? Each one? So how could he possibly know the proportion of black people who care or don’t care about the holiday? I know! Maybe he’s done a nationwide Care-About-Kwanzaa poll and I just missed taking it. Or maybe he attended the AMAABP (Annual Meeting of All American Black People) where a formal resolution to Not Care About Kwanzaa was passed by an overwhelming majority.

On second thought, maybe he’s got a black friend – or heck, maybe he’s friends with some black people. (Hang with me here, it could happen.) It’s quite possible these friends don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. But even if he’s friends with one or two, a whole clan of black folks, or is a card-carrying member of an African Methodist Episcopal church, don’t friends usually share the same taste in music, beliefs, political leanings and values? You know…birds of a feather?

People usually hang out with like-minded people. So if he’s not big on Kwanzaa, wouldn’t it reason that neither are his black running buddies? But even so, it probably wasn’t wise to take their viewpoint as representation of all black people and then issue such an inane press release. That’d be like me assuming that all white people like brussel sprouts just because my white husband does and then take it a step further by bringing them to every family gathering. Hi everyone…I brought brussel sprouts again because white people just love ‘em!”
Silly isn’t it?

What’s sillier to me is that pundits, bloggers and community activists are speaking out about this attack on Kwanzaa, defending its principles and the man who instituted the holiday. That’s not what this should be about. Why is no one saying "Hey Senator! You can't put a people group's opinions, feelings or thinking -- of any race -- in one category!"

It seems the trees are blocking the real issue which was demonstrated with sublime sillyness: the broad brush with which the Senator has painted an entire race of people. And chances are that if he lumps black people's feelings under one umbrella, he's doing the same with other races or ethnicities. Who knows? Maybe he's the guy who's always bringing brussel sprouts to the annual potluck.

I don't think the Senator needs an education about Kwanzaa,, its principles or its founder. He needs to be educated on a couple of things: 1.) That people groups – of any race or ethnicity -- are not monoliths, and their members operate independently from the whole; and 2). He should probably do his homework before speaking on any race’s behalf. Or just cede the spokesperson position altogether.

Now for the record, no, I don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. It’s not that I’m against its principles, but I’m a Christmas girl who believes that Jesus encompasses all of Kwanzaa’s principles and more. And besides, after one month with two birthdays and then Christmas and New Year’s, I’m pretty much celebrated out.

Neither do I know the Senator, nor is this an attack on him. I’m just saying that his press release indicates a bigger problem that everyone should call him on. And that problem’s got nothing to do with Kwanzaa.