Commiserating on Mortality

 

At 7 pm on Tuesday evenings (if we don’t get afternoon showers), some of the ladies in our neighborhood get together to visit. We are all seniors. Usually six to ten of us show up with our lawn chairs and preferred drinks, sit in one neighbor’s driveway six feet apart without masks, to talk about the news of the week. I’ve been avoiding the group for weeks; I’m not much of a social creature anyway and don’t especially like small talk, but they are very nice women. I’d like to believe that it makes sense to maintain a warm relationship with them, however limited.

Unfortunately, on my last visit a few weeks ago, the conversation inevitably turned to the coronavirus. Almost all of them do the mask/glove/sanitation/wipes routine to the extreme (in my opinion), no matter where they go. At the last gathering I attended, our voices became so loud that one of the husbands came out of his home to see if a brawl had broken out. I was the one guilty of causing the volume escalation; I was trying to explain my reasons for refusing to wear a mask everywhere, and suddenly everyone had to (loudly) express their alarm. (I did not say anyone should follow my lead.) I refused to be shouted down, and, well, it got noisy. One woman said her husband had a periodic bout with cancer, and she would never want to go somewhere and pick up the virus, exposing him to it. She was clearly insinuating that I was dooming my husband to certain death* since he has a lung condition (I know she was trying to make me feel guilty since I said that my husband supported my decisions and clearly did not feel I was endangering his life, and she wouldn’t look me in the eye.) When it was time to go home, we all parted with friendly words, but the tension was still in the air.

I’m thinking of attending the group again this evening. A part of me wants to see if I can behave myself and not antagonize them. Another part of me acknowledges my real reluctance about going: being surrounded by frightened people who feel like victims.

All my life I’ve had a very hard time being empathic with people who (I believe) are irrationally feeling victimized or frightened. Certainly, there are reasons to be concerned with the coronavirus, but the fear in this group is palpable. I realize that it probably triggers my own fears, carefully hidden and restrained. Nevertheless, given that I want to maintain a good relationship with all of them (because they are fine women and neighbors), I want simply to be able to be present to their fear, be a supportive and caring force, and accept the inevitable conversation about the virus.

Still, if you hear screaming women across the miles, you’ll know where it’s coming from.

(If it doesn’t rain and I follow through on visiting, I’ll let you know how it goes.)

*Lately I’ve been wearing a mask when I go out since I realize how frightened people are by those who don’t wear them.

Published in Culture
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 92 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    You better go or they’ll be talking about you.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    You better go or they’ll be talking about you.

    I’d like to think so! I’m such a fascinating person to gossip about, @phcheese!

    • #2
  3. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I continue to wear a mask into any commercial establishment where it is clearly expected. I want America to open up for business, and figure it probably helps people feel more confident about that if they think people will take precautions.

    I have a friend who has a “mom’s group,” a half dozen or more mothers of about her age (mid-40s), with whom she is in the habit of meeting every few weeks for wine and talk. My friend is the only one of the group who identifies as conservative, though a few of the others are probably more liberal-in-name than liberal-in-fact. But my friend is the only one in the group who is a lockdown skeptic, and who thinks things should be returned to normal as soon as possible. She tells me that it has created a lot of tension on those occasions when they’ve discussed the virus — and that it seems to come up every time they get together. She’s reduced her participation, mostly out of frustration with what she thinks is an overly cautious, overly compliant majority position.

    • #3
  4. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Member
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing)
    @Sisyphus

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    You better go or they’ll be talking about you.

    I’d like to think so! I’m such a fascinating person to gossip about, @phcheese!

    It’s all the rest of us do when you aren’t around.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    She’s reduced her participation, mostly out of frustration with what she thinks is an overly cautious, overly compliant majority position.

    I get it! Politically my group is a mixture, so I can’t point to that as a problem. It’s too bad that she may withdraw from a group that should be supportive, not adversarial. Thanks, @henryracette. I wish her well.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    You better go or they’ll be talking about you.

    I’d like to think so! I’m such a fascinating person to gossip about, @phcheese!

    It’s all the rest of us do when you aren’t around.

    @sisyphus, you are cracking me up. . . you don’t really, do you? .  . .

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Carpe diem!

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn: *Lately I’ve been wearing a mask when I go out, since I realize how frightened people are by those who don’t wear them.

    My favorite mask has Edvard Munch’s The Scream on it.

    • #8
  9. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy
    @LimestoneCowboy

    In my experience, those with a lower level of scientific and numerical literacy are far more susceptible to unrealistic fears. They are also much more susceptible to appeals to authority rather than thinking things though from first principles, precisely because their grasp of first principles, or even basic data  is tenuous at best.

    Some years ago, I was conversing with a thirty-something woman who was very anti-nuclear-power, convinced that any amount of radiation could be deadly. (Also an anti-vaxer, BTW).  I asked her why she was feeding her toddler bananas, and why she had installed granite countertops in her kitchen, since both bananas and granite contain the radioactive isotope of potassium (potassium 40). To say she became conflicted is an understatement.

     

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: *Lately I’ve been wearing a mask when I go out, since I realize how frightened people are by those who don’t wear them.

    My favorite mask has Edvard Munch’s The Scream on it.

    Have you worn it in public? Oh, that would be so tempting . . . 

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: *Lately I’ve been wearing a mask when I go out, since I realize how frightened people are by those who don’t wear them.

    My favorite mask has Edvard Munch’s The Scream on it.

    Have you worn it in public? Oh, that would be so tempting . . .

    Oh, yes. It gets a lot of laughs. I was at a barbecue place yesterday, and the girl at the register (black or mixed race girl in her 20’s) pointed and said, “I love it! You have Edvard Munch’s work on your mask!”

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Limestone Cowboy (View Comment):
    In my experience, those with a lower level of scientific and numerical literacy are far more susceptible to unrealistic fears. They are also much more susceptible to appeals to authority rather than thinking things though from first principles, precisely because their grasp of first principles, or even basic data is tenuous at best.

    Oh, you rascal you (with anti-nuclear woman)!

    I doubt most of them in my group actually look at the data, @limestonecowboy, and they seem to latch on the most extreme headlines they can find; if any do look at the data, they are probably the conservatives in the group. 

    • #12
  13. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I got it through the Detroit Institute of Arts. I also have Composition by Mondriaan and Starry Night by van Gogh, but The Scream is my favorite.

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: *Lately I’ve been wearing a mask when I go out, since I realize how frightened people are by those who don’t wear them.

    My favorite mask has Edvard Munch’s The Scream on it.

    I LOVE it! I’m going to order one. Just need to see if hubby wants one!

    • #14
  15. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Everybody in Michigan should get a mask that says “Gretchen is a derp.”

    • #15
  16. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    “And so, well, it got noisy.” 

    I like that! 

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    Everybody in Michigan should get a mask that says “Gretchen is a derp.”

    If it’s CoC compliant, can you tell us what a derp is or should I use my imagination?

    • #17
  18. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    I suggest you only address the topic in connection with fear: “I don’t have the fears that I know you do.”  Don’t debate, justify, explain, argue, refute. Whatever is raised derives from fear, which cannot be reasoned with, so just speak for yourself. “ I don’t have the fear that I know you do. I don’t accept that I am endangering those I love.” Don’t say any more. 
    Oh and I skip the mask unless it’s absolutely required somewhere I absolutely have to go. Hair gal, dentist, entrance to fave restaurants. I’m lucky – places I’m likely to need to/ want to patronize in NH don’t require. So far Home Depot is safe. I miss going to my favorite nursery because where I am in MA most of the summer is rabid and openly hostile. So mostly I stay home when I’m here and invite people here. I bring allllll my food from NH. Pitiful but people are ugly. 

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Everybody in Michigan should get a mask that says “Gretchen is a derp.”

    If it’s CoC compliant, can you tell us what a derp is or should I use my imagination?

    It’s clean:

    https://www.wordnik.com/words/derp

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EODmom (View Comment):
    I suggest you only address the topic in connection with fear: “I don’t have the fears that I know you do.” Don’t debate, justify, explain, argue, refute. Whatever is raised derives from fear, which cannot be reasoned with, so just speak for yourself.

    I don’t think that will work with this group. From my experience in working with conflict, pointing out things people don’t want to hear makes them angry or upset. For example, if someone got real angry with me, I’d say, “I can see that you’re angry.” And the person would sputter back, “I’m not angry!!” If I say they’re afraid, they’ll argue that they are just being practical or considerate or wise . . . But I appreciate your trying to help, @eodmom.

    • #20
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Everybody in Michigan should get a mask that says “Gretchen is a derp.”

    If it’s CoC compliant, can you tell us what a derp is or should I use my imagination?

    derp

    [dərp]

    EXCLAMATION

    1. used as a substitute for speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, or to comment on a foolish or stupid action.

    NOUN

    derp (noun)

    1. foolishness or stupidity.
    2. a person steeped in derp.

     

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    EODmom (View Comment):
    I suggest you only address the topic in connection with fear: “I don’t have the fears that I know you do.” Don’t debate, justify, explain, argue, refute. Whatever is raised derives from fear, which cannot be reasoned with, so just speak for yourself. “ I don’t have the fear that I know you do. I don’t accept that I am endangering those I love.” Don’t say any more. 

    Susan, do you remember my interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve? This plays right into it. They are letting emotions, like fear, run away with them.

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    For example, if someone got real angry with me, I’d say, “I can see that you’re angry.” And the person would sputter back, “I’m not angry!!”

    “Oh, of course you’re not angry, which is why you’re shrieking out your emotions in high decibel levels.”

    • #23
  24. Maguffin Inactive
    Maguffin
    @Maguffin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    You better go or they’ll be talking about you.

    I’d like to think so! I’m such a fascinating person to gossip about, @phcheese!

    You know, I was at the hairdresser’s just the other day talking about you Susan.  But it was all good gossip, none of that nasty stuff.  Like how you write much better Ricochet posts and comments than I do, etc.  Okay, okay, it got a little edgy cause I was jealous, but I stopped after 5-10 minutes.  Honest!

    • #24
  25. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Member
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing)
    @Sisyphus

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    For example, if someone got real angry with me, I’d say, “I can see that you’re angry.” And the person would sputter back, “I’m not angry!!”

    “Oh, of course you’re not angry, which is why you’re shrieking out your emotions in high decibel levels.”

    Oh, look. All of the birds in this five block radius are deaf. I wonder how that happened.

    • #25
  26. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Member
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing)
    @Sisyphus

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    You better go or they’ll be talking about you.

    I’d like to think so! I’m such a fascinating person to gossip about, @phcheese!

    It’s all the rest of us do when you aren’t around.

    @sisyphus, you are cracking me up. . . you don’t really, do you? . . .

    I had no idea that Trump knew you. He couldn’t stop talking about you.

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    For example, if someone got real angry with me, I’d say, “I can see that you’re angry.” And the person would sputter back, “I’m not angry!!”

    “Oh, of course you’re not angry, which is why you’re shrieking out your emotions in high decibel levels.”

    You do understand that I would never argue with a person who denies he or she is angry. I just let it go. Same with any fear that a person denies having. Could you give me a hint about Adam and Eve? Do you mean when G-d called them out?

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Maguffin (View Comment):
    You know, I was at the hairdresser’s just the other day talking about you Susan. But it was all good gossip, none of that nasty stuff. Like how you write much better Ricochet posts and comments than I do, etc. Okay, okay, it got a little edgy cause I was jealous, but I stopped after 5-10 minutes. Honest!

    You are totally cracking me up! Now, now, you need to give yourself much more credit, @Maguffin! Writing on Rico is not a competition, you know.

    • #28
  29. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    EODmom (View Comment):
    I suggest you only address the topic in connection with fear: “I don’t have the fears that I know you do.” Don’t debate, justify, explain, argue, refute. Whatever is raised derives from fear, which cannot be reasoned with, so just speak for yourself.

    I don’t think that will work with this group. From my experience in working with conflict, pointing out things people don’t want to hear makes them angry or upset. For example, if someone got real angry with me, I’d say, “I can see that you’re angry.” And the person would sputter back, “I’m not angry!!” If I say they’re afraid, they’ll argue that they are just being practical or considerate or wise . . . But I appreciate your trying to help, @eodmom.

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    EODmom (View Comment):
    I suggest you only address the topic in connection with fear: “I don’t have the fears that I know you do.” Don’t debate, justify, explain, argue, refute. Whatever is raised derives from fear, which cannot be reasoned with, so just speak for yourself.

    I don’t think that will work with this group. From my experience in working with conflict, pointing out things people don’t want to hear makes them angry or upset. For example, if someone got real angry with me, I’d say, “I can see that you’re angry.” And the person would sputter back, “I’m not angry!!” If I say they’re afraid, they’ll argue that they are just being practical or considerate or wise . . . But I appreciate your trying to help, @eodmom.

    I guess I’d probably skip an encounter that I thought had a high likelihood of wallowing in something uncomfortable for all. I’m almost certainly not as social as you are and I’ve experience in having to tai chi away from that sort of engagement. When we still lived in Silicon Valley we had friend/acquaintances who came regularly to our dinner table who thought it was just ok as all get out to preach to us over dinner about the benefits of ObamaCare and the evils of my big ol’ V8 SUV and and my eco dangerous elaborate lifestyle and so on. Over the dinner I cooked!  We had smaller dinner parties and I became less social and we moved to NH. I know we left CA in the nick of time. I hope your friends find a way to be as kind as you want to be. 

    • #29
  30. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    You do understand that I would never argue with a person who denies he or she is angry. I just let it go. Same with any fear that a person denies having.

    Of course you wouldn’t. But I would. 😈

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Could you give me a hint about Adam and Eve?

    In Unity, one way we use the story of Adam and Eve is as a parable to teach moderation of impulsiveness. Eden is a peaceful, productive state of consciousness. Adam represents our rational thinking nature. Eve represents our emotional nature. Each resides within us. The serpent is what the outer senses tell us. What we see or hear around us convinces the emotions to eat of the fruit of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In other words, to declare something good or bad: to shout, “Something’s got to be done!” The emotions drag the thoughts along (Adam also eats). The result is the thoughts and emotions are expelled from Eden, they are no longer in a peaceful, productive state of consciousness. They have to work hard to get anything done because they are so roiled up.

    God had declared that it was for our thoughts (Adam) to lead our emotions (Eve), not the other way around. It is not ours to judge a situation with emotion, but to know that in every situation God resides. And in so knowing and seeking God’s good, to stay in the peaceful, productive state known as Eden.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.