seriously paranoid

. . .

Bryant and I were stopped at a red light when a car pulled up next to us. The passengers caught my eye. A mother and her son were having a very animated conversation. When my gaze met with theirs, they looked suddenly surprised and erupted into a huge fit of laughter. The son, with arms flailing, very clearly shouted the words “I TOLD YOU!” The mother quickly averted her gaze from mine and, looking down, tried unsuccessfully to hold back her amusement.

. . .

I stood in the aisle of the grocery store debating “to buy, or not to buy” when a couple with their two teenage kids rolled by me and started to laugh. As the mother passed in front of me she said to her husband under her breath, “I guess I was wrong!” It was hard to make out his response through his laughter. It was something like “it’s a girl!” Or maybe “good girl!” I don’t really know. But “girl” definitely was in there.

. . .

Stuff like this happens around me all the time—maybe it does to everyone—but for some reason when it happens to me, my hyperactive paranoia gland kicks into gear. I become convinced that people are laughing because they couldn’t tell if I was a guy or a girl. I become super self-conscious about my short hair.

Then anger pours into me, and I try to make these laughing strangers feel as uncomfortable as possible. I stare them down (in the case of the car at the stop light) or I walk right up to them and try to give them as much eye contact as possible while I peruse items on the shelf where they’re standing (in the case of the grocery store). The laugher always stops and they awkwardly avoid my gaze.

They were probably laughing about something totally unrelated and didn’t even notice me. That is, they didn’t notice me until I became the freak in the grocery store who stares strangers down for no apparent reason. No wonder their laughter stops and they try to avoid my gaze.

It’s ridiculous. It’s disgustingly egocentric of me to think that the whole world is having a laugh at my expense. There are millions of other more plausible reasons they could be laughing. But I have a really hard time controlling my reaction. I become convinced that me and my short hair have just become the butt of their joke. Call me crazy, but I react this way every time. And I have a really hard time recovering from it. The grocery store thing just happened less than an hour ago and I’m only barely emerging from my cloud of embarrassment and anger.

They probably weren’t laughing at me. But maybe they were. Weren’t you ever a teenager hanging out with your friends when someone spots a stranger who seems a bit gender ambiguous? Everyone gets a real kick trying to figure out what “it” is. I’ve been with that group before, I’m sorry to say. More than once. It’s something people find hilariously awkward. It’s possible that I could be on the receiving end of that joke, considering that I’ve been on the giving end of it before.

However, whether I’m the object of their jokes or not isn’t really the issue for me (despite the fact that it does hurt my feelings). This is something that irritated me even when I had hair long enough to ensure that everyone felt confident about my gender. I know that there are times that people laugh at the expense of others, and whether it’s at my expense or not, it infuriates me. What makes me so angry is the sense of superiority the laughers have… their total lack of respect for another human being. They laugh when someone looks different, when someone has a birth defect, when someone has a deformity, when someone’s hair is too short. Really? Is it really that hilarious to discover that people different from you exist in this world? And what I find totally intolerable is the idea that parents would be laughing along with their children. What amazing examples these adults are to their budding bigots.

Wow, the rage. …Talk about a sense of superiority… Sorry, I’ll come down now. But can you see? This is what happens to me. Total anger. Not healthy, especially considering it stems from paranoia. I have got to figure out a way to get over this, especially because I actually like my hair and don’t plan on growing it out any time soon. Why am I so self-conscious of it?

Category: if i ruled the world, quirks, what's inside 6 comments »

6 Responses to “seriously paranoid”

  1. the narrator

    if it makes you feel any better, i have never questioned your gender.

  2. Kelly

    Hahaha, thanks Loyd.

  3. Bryant

    Paranoia is right. Every time this happens, I’m like, “Kelly, you have no idea what they were laughing at. It probably has nothing to do with you,” and then you say something on the lines of, “Trust me, I know what it feels like when people are laughing at me.”

  4. Bryant

    And as long as we’re pointing out your paranoia, I think it’s probably also worth noting that it’s not limited to when strangers are laughing at who-knows-what. Whenever we hear someone speaking in a foreign language, Kelly is pretty much convinced that they’re bad-mouthing her.

  5. Kelly

    Alright, alright. So I’m crazy. ;)

  6. Fara

    Sometime during Jr High School during an assemply, a girl in the row behind me asked —loudly— if I was a girl or a boy. (Do you remember my very short haircut?) My friends sitting with me stood up for me immediately and called her crazy, which was quite lovely of them. Nonetheless, that was the day I started wearing big earrings. BIG earrings. Now I know you remember those.

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