THE WAY THINGS ARE
Colette NiReamonn Ioannidou
I can’t help but wonder when I see people wearing T-Shirts or sweaters with a slogan on them, how much it really says about the person who’s wearing them. Is the woman whose upper level reads ‘Why are you looking at my chest?’ complaining about someone ogling her boobs or asking why someone is trying to read what’s on her boobs. Why wear the silly thing in the first place? Then she turns her back and it says… ‘Look me in the eyes.’ Is this a woman who feels that her face isn’t interesting enough to begin with and has to draw attention to her breasts? Otherwise, why isn’t the message on her back on her front where her eyes are?
Recently in the supermarket I was looking for a mini trolley, spied one and made for it. I actually had my hand on it when a man lunged and tried to grab it from me. I held on and hissed, ‘Ladies first!’ He reluctantly let go as the check-out queue nearby began to titter. The man closest to me said as the guy slunk off, ‘Bravo, Kyria.’ The uncouth creature was wearing a yellow sweater emblazoned on which was – in large black letters – Back off; I’m the Beast.
That may have been what caused the collective giggle from the queue, for the Beast was shorter than me and I’m five foot one. He had shaved his pate perhaps hoping to resemble Jason Statham. In truth, it looked like a small boiled egg, his head out of proportion with what supported it: a cartoon tough guy body with pumped up shoulders that rose towards his head, arm muscles that bulged under his sleeves and tiny hands that looked like they couldn’t carry the punch the arms were possibly capable of inflicting on whoever got in his way. His skinny chicken legs were wrapped in a pair of jeans that looked as if they had been in a competition between two Rotweilers to see which could tear the most out of them. It wasn’t his short stature, bad taste in clothes or his physical lack of handsome that lit my ire; some of the most interesting men I’ve known have been short or ugly or both; it was his lack of manners. Then, lack of manners is not attached to a person’s height.
Further on, standing at the shelf where eggs are stacked a tall man placed a long left leg in front of me. The leg was encased in well fitting jeans that didn’t look as though they had had an argument with a garden shears. Then the other leg slid into position. The perfectly proportioned upper body was hugged by a soft black leather jacket. And this handsome, fifty-ish Adonis with a head of dark wavy hair gracefully conceding to streaks of silver, had arranged himself so as to block my view while deciding what he wanted. I pushed my way in front of him saying sweetly in my best Maggie Smith-Downton
‘Age before beauty, yes?’
He moved back to gaze as me as if I had landed from some galactic zone where upstart women do not question men. His expression wrinkled into an irritated ‘What?’
I reached out across him and took what I wanted while smiling as if I’d just swallowed a dose of acid. On my supermarket scale of 1-10 this pair would rate below zero. Supermarkets, however, are not the only place male bad manners thrive.
Standing stoically in a queue at the General Hospital I moved a fraction to relieve the stiffness of staying in one spot as my bones began to let me know my prima ballerina days are long over and all the pills in the market will not bring back the athletic suppleness I once processed. The man behind was too close to me, perhaps fearing the good old-fashioned Cypriot habit of squeezing into a queue if opportunity presents itself, so I bumped into him. His reaction was a coarse guttural grunt of displeasure used as a mad dog might utilise a warning growl. My initial reaction was to turn and do a coarse Irish wolfhound bark back at him.
Luckily, dignity held sway as my wise mother’s words came back to me, ‘When faced with rudeness, treat the breed with contempt.’ I didn’t even bother to turn around; I remembered the great Toshiro Mifune, back to the camera holding aloft a huge katana, his shoulders tight with suppressed anger that spoke more than words could. I followed suit made my back a silent weapon and I ignored the beast.