Last week one of my roommates had one of her guy friends over. I talked with them a bit, and he seemed nice enough, though not exactly the type that I could really hit it off with, if you know what I mean. (Which is to say, he was very not nerdy.) So they continue chatting while I go over to my usual end of the couch with the lamp and start reading. He's kind of on his way out--they're gradually getting closer to the door while conversation continues--when they get on the subject of their aspirations, etc. and my roommate admitted that what she really wants to do is write for children.
"Oh," says her friend, "thats easy." He made a motion like he was just scribbling something really fast. "I mean, you just... you know?"
This is far from the first time someone has made a similar suggestion to/in front of me when someone admits to aspirations in childrens literature--either writing or illustration. Its hard for me to believe that they don't realize how utterly tactless, and of course wrong, they are. (How would you like me to say in a sort of brush-of way that your major sounds easy?) But what is also hard for me to believe is that, knowing how unthinking and common, etc., this thinking is, I still become, like, swellingly angry whenever someone makes this kind of comment. But, probably fortunately, I am not a person who yells, or even one who shows much emotion or says much of anything. So when my roommates friend says that writing childrens books is "easy", its only inside that I'm screaming,"EASY? Yeah, well you know what ELSE is EASY? JUMPING OFF A CLIFF IS EASY. So why don't you do the world a favor and go DO that. And be sure to aim for those SHARP ROCKS AT THE BOTTOM. And by the way I've decided to HATE YOU FOR ETERNITY." But while I'm thinking this, I'm still apparently calmly reading, though they probably never noticed that I've stopped moving my eyes over the page, or turning pages.
I waited for my mostly-suppressed explosion until after he was out the door, which was fortunately not long after.
"How can he not know how utterly tactless that was? Not to mention entirely wrong," I said.
"What was?" asked Annie, who had entered just as I said this. I told her what he said, and how this has happened to me several times before, and how it always makes me see red, but I never, ever say anything. So in a very small way it is my fault, for not correcting this thinking when I encounter it, right?
"Well, kind of," Annie said, "I'm not saying that that kind of thinking shouldn't be corrected, but really, I think it's better that you don't say anything when you're as angry as all that. And I know it's hard, but you should probably try to get used to the fact that you're going to keep encountering this kind of thinking and you should try and just let it roll over you, or you're going to keep getting angry about something you have no control over."
And of course she's right, but that doesn't make it any easier.