A couple of weeks ago, my colleague was talking about her daughter`s first car. Eventually, she lowered her voice, gave me a long, long look and then said very earnestly: “She`s a lucky girl.” Break. “She`s a LUCKY, lucky girl. I hope she appreciates it.” Eventually, I felt forced to ask, and she confirmed that she has indeed treated her to it.
Very obviously, she was not just treating the girl but also herself, for it buys her bragging rights. I should know to take those with a pinch of salt, as I know of at least one parent who has not actually treated his kids to everything he claimed in public. My dad hasn`t treated me to three months in Italy – he allowed me (under 18) to go and found me a few jobs to pay for it. Neither has he bought me a car or my sister a horse – he merely allowed us to home both on his premises without increasing dig money. But I`m sure it made him look good to his friends, and it probably benefited their own teenagers, if those men felt pressure to follow suit.
The other day, I caught myself retaliating. Someone was telling me that she needed a particular item to go on a foreign holiday with another couple. I knew the story wasn`t really about the item; she wanted to be asked where she was going. I also knew she didn`t particularly get on with the other woman, so I totally ignored the shopping bit and the foreign holiday hint, and exclaimed something along the line of: “Oh noooo! He knows you can`t stand her, why can`t they go somewhere on their own?” She changed the topic and looked dismayed.
There seems to be an unwritten social contract that, in order to be “nice” people, we have to indulge chat like this, but if the same people are fishing like this all the time, I simply want to switch off.
But once again, I`m pondering about how many things we are actually doing for other people, and who we would be if there never was any social approval (or disapproval) to be had for what we do, what we possess or what we look like.