It all began with a challenge. While camping one year I forgot myself and used the word obstreperous during a conversation. Now I was surrounded by women that included a teacher and a nurse. We were also joined by someone who works in a factory but I don’t like to assume the one’s profession need dictate one’s use of the English language. You may well be a Rhodes Scholar on break to find yourself for all I know. This was not the case. When I used the word obstreperous, immediately the factory worker jumped on me and accused me of making it up. Now this is problematic two-fold. One – I don’t lie or make things up just to impress people. I really don’t care all that much what people think and with this particular group I had no star to falsely shine. Two – this particular person does not like me as she is currently in a relationship with someone I dated in my late teens who wanted to marry me. He also behaves in such a way now as to suggest that the possibility of marrying me is still an option that he carries despite my happily married state with two kids. Now while I find this strangely flattering, even though the torch I carried burned out long ago, it does prove a tad awkward when camping. He also happens to be the older brother of the guy we go camping with and so invites tend to be given and accepted to join us. The woman in question also does not like camping while I LOVE it. I come very prepared for any situation, have my own tool box, etc. and the former beau finds this appealing. She, however, brings her gravity chair, parks it in the shade with her Enquirer magazine and lifts nary a finger for the time they are on site. This could segue into an article on lazy demanding people but I’ll save that one.
I can’t even remember the topic. I have no idea what we were talking about that the word obstreperous would even apply, however, use it I did. When I looked around after being accused of making the word up, the general consensus was that no one else had ever heard of the word either. Now keep in mind that one of the women is a teacher. Granted she is an elementary French teacher but a teacher none the less. I would assume that any teacher should be well read so that they may converse on any topic or at least be able to bullshit their way through. This was decidedly not the case. It then came to light that frequently I was not understood. Hmmmm. Was it me or them ?
The point is that the former ex’s current love was over loaded on venom during this exchange. She seemed to feel threatened that I used such a big word, knew what it meant and she didn’t. Her eyes went squinty, her posture became defensive and she positively radiated dislike. I was quite surprised that she even had the nerve to accuse me of making it up and awarded her a few points for balls. When I went on to spell it and define it, the eyes got even more squinty. Then she said something that I don’t take lying down – she said she didn’t believe me. That despite my ability to spell and define it, I had made the word up anyway. Now this is where the squnity eyed look jumps from her face to mine. You see, I don’t think that much of her either. She strikes me as a lazy, selfish, my way or the highway kind of chick and when you come to camp you step up. You help with the cooking and cleaning and fire watching, etc. No well developed vocabulary is going to get you excused from cleaning up fish guts if that’s what needs to be done. But she is too good for that. She is above that. She will only come camping if it is understood that she is on vacation, does not really want to be here and will do nothing except be served by the said ex for the entire time they are with us. As far as I’m concerned she is welcome to stay home, open up the internet or a dictionary for that matter (she can read as evidenced by the Enquirer) and try to improve her mind (needed as evidenced by the fact that she reads the Enquirer at all). Maybe she can look up words like cooperation, flexibility, courteousness, development, or anything else that is more than two syllables and requires some type of intellect to understand.
What has come out from that incident is that upon further inquiry, people I speak to routinely do not understand what I am saying. This surprised me. I don’t assume that everyone reads how much I read but I also don’t assume that my vocabulary is anything above the ordinary. I guess this is not so. I also don’t feel threatened by others who use “big” words. I use this type of opportunity to learn, to grow, to improve myself, to diversify and to add to my lexicon. I don’t feel threatened or put upon. This is why I find this type of behavior so off putting. There is nothing threatening about hearing a word you don’t understand unless you have no desire to learn about it. If it challenges your idea of intelligence and the level at which you choose to remain rather than seeking the next level then that is your problem not mine. Don’t get defensive and accusatory because you have some self worth issues. And if your boyfriend is ogling my goodie basket, then maybe there are other problems afoot such as your continuously obstreperous behavior.