September 21, 2023

Column: “That Got Me to Thinkin’…?” “What Goes Unsaid”


“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “What Goes Unsaid” Chapter 50
By Bruce Williams

***Editor’s note: Congratulations to Bruce Williams for Chapter 50 of “That Got me to Thinkin'”. When we asked Bruce to write a column it was originally supposed to focus on sports or sports related topics and we quickly found that Bruce was far more than a simple sports commentator and we are thrilled to have him on board and look forward to Mondays when his “observations” are posted. We love to smart our week with a smile and we hope you will continue to enjoy his columns and encourage you to share his page with others who you think will enjoy his insight. Thanks Bruce and congratulations on Chapter 50 we can’t wait to celebrate chapter 100 and the wild ride you will take us on to get there.

Bruce Williams

I had a dream last night that I was at an old-timey racetrack and when I exited the restroom, there was a gal I vaguely know from work and her “husband”—a guy I recognized as a customer.  They gave me an overly warm greeting gauged by my familiarity with them, and it was then that I noticed the guy’s head and face coverings—some kind of blue mesh that I glanced down and saw also covered his hands.  I blurted out, “You must have horrible skin”—immediately regretting it as he dignifiedly responded with a simple, “Yes.”  I felt terrible as I watched them push their baby in a pram away from me and my big mouth (pram was the term I thought of in my head in the dream—probably because of all the dark polished wood of the old timey racetrack).  “Why would I say that?” I muttered barely audibly to myself, waking up shortly thereafter and realizing that I only said what I was thinking in the dream, and in real life I use a filter that keeps these horribly offensive observations on lock down.

It’s like when somebody walks up to me and they have on so much cologne that it makes my eyes water.  I don’t wince and say, Gawd…that’s awful,”  even when I want to because we live in a polite society—though one might make the point that in a polite society one also shouldn’t be subjected to another’s overpowering scent(s).  It’s the same when I slip a jacket over a guy’s shoulders and intake the distinct odor of B.O. (capitalized for a reason)—the type that indicates deodorant or antiperspirant were not only not used…they never have been. I don’t say anything, but daammnnn…I’d like to.  “Uh, sir—…”

When I was younger, I could blurt out these rudenesses unabated.  I remember a classmate in high school that sported a boil with a big white head on it for what seemed like months.  It happened to be on the side of his nose that faced me in two of our classes.  Since repeatedly pointing it out to him in our hushed conversations didn’t lead to his squeezing it and ridding both of us of its presence, I began to address the boil directly as if it was its own entity—relating to it how hurt and offended I was by its persistent, off-putting existence.  While this was all great fun to me at the time, I couldn’t imagine doing that now.  Just think—when confronted by, say, an older woman with an alarming amount of plastic surgery appearing suddenly at your elbow, you just said the first thing that popped into your head…”You look just like a cat.”  No, instead you tamp your overt shock and lower your ascended eyebrows accordingly and wince out a smile.

And generally as an adult it’s better to stifle those urges.  For every time you’ve come up with the perfect zinger later while driving home in the car, it was probably better left unsaid—even if it made you chuckle at your own cleverness.  Sometimes, though, it’s inevitable that it’ll slip out.  Once, around Christmastime, I was inside a bustling Starbucks and a woman whose order was wrong charged to the front and demanded a re-make.  Now, I understand her frustration and didn’t really mind that she put her needs in front of everyone else’s in line—it was that she chose to belittle the cashier and barista the entire time they were remaking her drink.  As it appeared she intended on keeping it up throughout the steaming process, I softly stated behind her, “That’s enough.”  She pivoted on me, eyes wide and mouth agape in astonishment at my unbelievable effrontery and demanded, “Whaaaat?!”  Though my stomach sank a little, I managed a firm, “You heard me,” with eye contact.  Fearing her ire would now be directed at the bald bastard butting in from behind, I was surprised to instead witness her pipe down with a little bristling huff—probably finally realizing she was indeed out of line and that it was Christmas and all.  When I got to the front of the queue the cashier mouthed a silent “thank you” so I felt a little less like a gigantic bruised thumb.

I wonder how many times a day I don’t say what I’m actually thinking.  All the confrontations I avoid with my chosen, discretionary silence.  We all have that friend in our orbit who either claims, “I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em” or “I’m sorry, but I don’t have a filter”—any thinly-veiled explanation for their ongoing bluntness.  My son is a blurter, but he’s on the spectrum so I find his candid, unvarnished honesty refreshing and sometimes poignant or useful.  When a grown person that should know better chuffs out their clunky truths, it’s not so endearing.  So we all have to pick the soft spots in-between; to abide the unreasonable, flailing customer while you imagine a piano dropping from the sky on top of them.  After all, most of us do live in a polite society as long as we try to keep it that way.