Daylight Saving Time is not my friend.
I have yet to wake up refreshed and cheerful; instead, I wake up (if you can call it that) exhausted and cranky. That means I take my crankiness out in my writing, which is why the last two weeks’ columns have been less than frothy (unless you count foaming at the mouth). The spring change is hard enough already, but I just had to add to the mix by having major surgery within a month or so of the time change, so I often spend my days waiting for my eyes to focus while I struggle throughout the day to keep them open (then can’t sleep at night).
Can we just pick one? I’m leaning toward Standard time (which science says is better for us, especially those of us with sleep disorders, to say nothing of digestive issues; ever try to convince your body it’s not the time it thinks it is?), but I’ll persevere with whatever is chosen.
When I get cranky like that, I remind myself of the perpetually offended (which I’m not, having grown up the baby with three brothers; it takes a lot to really offend me). It’s often said that it doesn’t matter what you say or do because someone will always be offended by it; you can’t please everyone all the time. The perpetually offended? Well, you can never please them, and trying will just make you cranky and hard to live with.
Do I want to please them? Nah. Doesn’t mean I’m not hard to live with (though my friend Sarah might disagree, but then it was for two weeks after surgery, so I didn’t have much energy to cause trouble), and I’m already cranky from lack of sleep.
We all get offended at something, and sometimes that offense is merited. I’m inclined to agree with those offended by Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock on the Oscars, even though it was in defense of his wife Jada, about whom Rock had made a cruel joke, if just because it would have been better not to do so on live television. His actions came off as toxic rather than chivalrous. Rock already faced his consequence from Smith (and further cemented his reputation as offensive and not funny for some); Smith may still face his from the academy (among the options I’ve seen floating around is “suspending” him for a year from the academy, meaning for one thing that he wouldn’t be invited to the ceremony next year, or present the Best Actress Oscar, as is the tradition; I wholeheartedly support that idea).
And of course there are people offended by Joe Biden’s off-the-cuff remark that seemed to signal an urging for regime change in Russia (not that it would be a bad thing, because it wouldn’t in this instance; Vladimir Putin is a madman), not just because foreign policy needs to be decided in tandem with advisers so that everyone is on the same page, but because it put our allies in the awkward position of backing or denouncing that statement, and we had more than enough of that in the previous administration. Scripts and teleprompters are good things for stutterers and stammerers (Biden’s a lifelong stutterer; I’m a stammerer, though not horribly so), as well as anyone else whose tongue is quicker than their brain. Joe, like me and many others, should stick to the script if at all possible.
Sometimes, though, the things people choose to become offended by are ridiculous. I’m not just talking about the soup, cereal or cookie ads that feature nontraditional families or (gasp) the appearance of a rainbow in some form to convey acceptance of LGBTQ+ people (hey, the existence of other kinds of families doesn’t negate traditional families; other people exist, and they may have different beliefs than you, but it doesn’t mean they’re throwing themselves in your face by their mere existence). Every time a different sort of family is portrayed, despite the fact that they represent the diversity of America, the pearl-clutching is such that it appears the end of the world is nigh. When Cheerios ran an ad featuring an interracial family in 2013(!), according to NPR, the “official YouTube video for the ad was inundated with so many ugly comments that General Mills pulled the TV spot from the site because they decided the reaction was no longer family friendly.” One Millions Moms and the American Family Association seem to be constantly up in arms over homosexual couples and families in commercials. A 2012 Facebook post featuring an Oreo with six rainbow-colored layers in honor of Pride Month made some apoplectic, and a 2020 Oreo ad campaign caused A Million Moms to accuse its parent company of “attempting to normalize the LGBTQ lifestyle by using their commercials, such as the most recent Oreo ad featuring a lesbian couple, to brainwash children and adults alike by desensitizing audiences.”
Well. How dare companies’ advertising reflect the makeup of America, which isn’t all white and heterosexual!
Rage over differences of opinion is one such piece of ridiculousness. My favorite answer to the reddit question “What’s the dumbest thing people are offended by?” was LeftTwix051’s answer of “Conflicting opinions,” to which dirtymoney replied, “WRONG!” Luckily it seemed everyone who commented or voted was in on the joke and wasn’t offended. Most differences of opinion aren’t really that serious, but some people insist on making a big stink about them. Remember, though, that opinion may be based on fact, but isn’t fact. Differences on facts, or the interpretation of those facts, especially by unqualified people, are a different thing altogether. Having a hissy fit over someone not agreeing with you that Thanos was the most terrifying Marvel villain is pretty lame. (I mean, he pretty much is, but why lose it over someone who thinks it’s pre-redemption Loki, or Green Goblin or Killmonger? Though if they bring up Malekith or Dormammu, you might have a point.)
Dust-ups over cups at Starbucks or nontraditional decorations during holiday seasons are also ridiculous, as is being offended if someone uses the phrase “happy holidays.” “Holiday” literally comes from “holy day”; there is also more than one faith tradition in the world, and many, many religious and non-religious observances. In late November and December, if I’m uncertain what holidays someone celebrates (and there are a lot around Thanksgiving and Christmas), I usually say “happy holidays” to be safe, but I’ll say “Merry Christmas” or whatever other holiday if I know which is their holiday of choice. Most people understand that, but some …
You’d think that someone dug up their ancestors’ graves for Halloween decorations. Calm down. Those plastic skeletons were on special at Lowe’s, and can be festive any time of the year.
Maybe the most ridiculous taking of offense, to me, anyway, is being offended that someone else is offended, especially if that person’s offense is merited. Times change, so the things that were widely accepted before—racist or sexist remarks, widespread ethnic and gender discrimination, making fun of medical conditions, etc.— aren’t OK now for the majority of people, so being offended that you can’t do that without facing consequences is just childish.
Admittedly, I have my own ridiculous offense-taking, but this is the South and I was raised on yellow or buttermilk cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet, so here it is: Putting sugar in cornbread is just wrong. Sugar’s for corn muffins and desserts, not cornbread. Next you’ll be putting that skillet in the dishwasher. (True story: In my first apartment in college, one of my roommates was an exceedingly bad cook who insisted on cooking for her boyfriend, usually using my pans. She ruined my Dutch oven burning popcorn, then made “cornbread” with sugar in my hand-me-down cast-iron skillet given to me by my grandmother, and put it through the dishwasher. I started keeping all my pans, plates, etc., in my closet after that. It took forever to get the pan seasoned properly again.)
For shame. My mama’s, nanny’s and granny’s ghosts would like a word with you.