Friend who makes other uncomfortable: to mention it or no?
May 12, 2013 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I have a friend who often says embarrassing things she's not aware are embarrassing. I've said nothing. Should I?

This is someone I've been friends with for years. She's smart (has a masters) and is a 5th grade teacher (this may be part of the problem) and she loves her job. She often says things in public that are sort of cringe-worthy, without having any knowledge that they are. As we often are meeting for dinner, this most often happens at restaurants (that I observe). And the servers (or whoever she's talking to) are visibly uncomfortable, but never say anything of course, because their jobs are about service, and the things she says aren't offensive per se.

Example:

server: you can get broccoli, asparagus or fries
her: well, I don't want my pee to smell!
server: what?
her: asparagus makes your pee smell, and I hate that.
server: (looks creeped out but says nothing)

----------

Example:

When someone will ask her if she wants something that she doesn't like, she will make a face as if she's just smelled the WORST THING EVER, and say, "no, ew, I HATE mayonnaise!" rather than just saying no.

Though I am not the avoiding-conflict type, this has never seemed like something that was really my business to bring up, but I can often see the people she's interacting with look confused, or annoyed, or creeped out. When I've brought her together with other friends of mine, some have commented on this.

This may be because she spends most of her time with 5th graders, but these things just seem like gaps in courtesy/social tone-deafness when she's dealing with adults.

I'm happy to (continue to) keep my damn mouth shut, but I also wonder: would YOU say something? Would it benefit her in any way to mention it?
posted by FlyByDay to Human Relations (45 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think this is just a case of people having different standards for what they consider proper. Reading the beginning of your question, I was prepared for a lot more mortifying examples than the ones you laid out here. I also can't imagine what you could possibly say that wouldn't end very poorly.

Do you think her style of interaction is hurting her in some tangible way? If she has a happy life and a good circle of friends I don't see the point of intervening. It's just who she is.
posted by something something at 11:34 AM on May 12, 2013 [18 favorites]


A good rule of thumb is, don't go around trying to change people.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:36 AM on May 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


this has never seemed like something that was really my business to bring up,
Correct. If someone is offended, they'll tell her. Not your job.

When I've brought her together with other friends of mine, some have commented on this.
This is middle school behavior. What do these people say about you when you're not there?
posted by 26.2 at 11:37 AM on May 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is middle school behavior. What do these people say about you when you're not there?>>

I disagree. These aren't people who are her friends. We are all intelligent, thoughtful adults, not children. But I've had a few people who've met her once or twice comment that she was socially...weird. I think it's fine they mention it to me in passing. They weren't asking me to pass on the info to her (and I never did).
posted by FlyByDay at 11:40 AM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


A good rule of thumb is, don't go around trying to change people.>>

which is why I haven't said anything, but I've seen her make enough people visibly uncomfortable that I thought it was worth asking
posted by FlyByDay at 11:41 AM on May 12, 2013


these things just seem like gaps in courtesy/social tone-deafness when she's dealing with adults.

Telling someone they're rude or "socially tone-deaf" is more rude than turning down a sandwich because "I hate mayonnaise."

The purpose of rules of etiquette is to allow you to guide your own behavior. If you instead use rules of etiquette to embarrass others, you're defeating the purpose and probably being more rude than the behavior you're purporting to correct.
posted by John Cohen at 11:42 AM on May 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Until it crosses the line into offensive territory, stay the heck away. She just apparently speaks more emphatically than most people. There's nothing wrong with that.
posted by zug at 11:42 AM on May 12, 2013


[Hey OP, just a reminder that in AskMe, you generally don't reply to each answer unless there is a clarification question; you sit back and let people answer, and then you can choose for yourself which answers are useful for you and which aren't. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:43 AM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It wouldn't benefit her to talk to her about this because she's perfectly happy the way she is. If it would benefit you in some way to talk to her because she makes you feel uncomfortable, then by all means do so. But don't pretend this is about her comfort.
posted by Jairus at 11:43 AM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


This may be because she spends most of her time with 5th graders

It's not.

Your friend sounds like a character out of Seinfeld. I'd respond in the moment if it made me feel cringey but not as a WE NEED TO TALK thing. "Wow I can't believe you just said that!" but otherwise let it go. Or make the most of it: "you're always brutally over-the-top honest, do these jeans make me look fat?"
posted by headnsouth at 11:48 AM on May 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm a vegetarian, and I eat a lot of foods that other people dislike. When someone says "Eew, tofu is so slimy and gross and awful," I usually say something like, "I'd really prefer if you didn't make unpleasant comments about the food I'm about to enjoy," or "you don't have to like it, but I do, so I'd prefer that you not make a big deal out of how disgusting you think it is." I say it when the comments happens, I make it about my feelings of discomfort rather than about their character, and after I've said what I want to say, I forget about it and move on.

In other words, the problem is not that your friend is socially awkward. The problem is that your friend is making specific comments that make you uncomfortable when she makes them. So, address the behavior, the comments, at the time they happen. When she says that she hates how asparagus makes her pee smell, you can say, "I'd prefer that you not discus your urine at the dinner table." When she makes a face and rants about mayo, just say, "when I offer you something and you act like I've just done something disgusting, it makes me feel bad."

Don't make this about her and whether she's immature or weird. And definitely don't make it about the fact that you and your other friends talk negatively about her behind her back. "You're creepy, and everyone thinks so," is neither kind nor helpful. Make this about a specific thing that she has said or done, in the moment, and how it has made you feel. "Please don't do that because I don't like it," is a totally reasonable thing to say, so long as you say it while you're feeling those feelings and make it about your feelings, rather than saving up and then unleashing on her a torrent of everything she's ever done that is bad and wrong.

"You are weird," is just as rude to say as "mayonnaise is gross," and both comments are unlikely to make the conversation better or to be helpful to the listener.
posted by decathecting at 11:57 AM on May 12, 2013 [33 favorites]


If it was me I would probably stop hanging out with her, because I agree that it sounds immature and weird. It wouldn’t really be my place to try and change her, which would be rude and condescending.
posted by bongo_x at 12:04 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's worth mentioning. This is part of her personality and not overly rude. She probably thinks she is charming. I have a friend like this. She is also well-educated and accomplished. When a waiter asks if she wants ice water, she replies, "No!" and gives a look like how dare he ask such a thing. Can't he see she only wants to drink her margarita? Why would she need ice water with a margarita?!

Although my friend can have these kind of awkward remarks, she says thank you when she is done ordering, makes a couple jokes with the waiter, and is polite overall. As long as your friend is generally polite but can have kooky remarks, I think it's completely fine. Like me, you may start to get a kick out of them. This kind of stuff is what makes life interesting.
posted by Fairchild at 12:07 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


would YOU say something?

No. And I am the type who gets second-hand embarrassment from just watching folks on TV, and your examples didn't bother me. Maybe there are worse scenarios. But most importantly, you didn't say it made you uncomfortable, but that it made "others" feel some kind of way. They can address her/it themselves, if that's the case. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, that's different, but I didn't get that from your question.

Would it benefit her in any way to mention it?
Again, no. You didn't say that it affected her social life, her well-being, or her career. Just because her communication style doesn't suit some other people does not mean you need to bring it to her attention, unless she expresses confusion about people's reactions to her or something like that, or it's causing you to feel negatively towards you/your friendship with her.

Maybe she knows and doesn't care.

It sounds more like this is other people's problem, not hers.
posted by sm1tten at 12:07 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


you can say, "I'd prefer that you not discuss your urine at the dinner table."

And multiply the number of people made uncomfortable. No, don't do that. See above re. "The purpose of rules of etiquette is to allow you to guide your own behavior."

In instances where you really feel that somebody is genuinely made uncomfortable, the (only) thing for you to do is find a way to mitigate that. Crack a joke with the waiter and break the tension or something. But do not call her out.

You and the others bothered by this may be intelligent, thoughtful adults but you're intelligent, thoughtful adults who are operating within what sounds like a pretty narrow circle in the petite bourgeoisie. If she was an 'important' person of some stripe instead of a schoolteacher people would be commenting, possibly in a complimentary way, about her "eccentricity," not her bad manners.

Etiquette is meant to make things pleasant and I am hard-pressed to understand how being emphatic about mayonnaise is making things unpleasant for anybody; this stuff does not require any action, so to speak, on your part. She sounds like "a character." Plenty of people enjoy "characters" more than they do people who "make comments" about "characters" being "socially weird." One thing you might do in your quest for courtesy and social correctness here is to make it clear to others that you are not interested in hearing unkind things about your friend of long standing behind her back.
posted by kmennie at 12:10 PM on May 12, 2013 [17 favorites]


I would say something to the effect of "Dude! TMI! Nobody needs to know what foods gross you out or make your pee smell. Save that for the doctor's office, yo!"
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:15 PM on May 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Plenty of people enjoy "characters" more than they do people who "make comments" about "characters" being "socially weird."

Amen! I was out with a group of people once who started talking about someone's boyfriend as soon as he walked our the door. His mortal sin? Having long fingernails. THE HORROR. It made me think a lot less of them. If you enjoy spending time with your friend, spend time with her and ignore other people's strange looks. If you don't enjoy spending time with her, leave her to friends that enjoy her.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:22 PM on May 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Honestly, the answer you've marked best, I have to say, sounds like a very swift way to make this person not be your friend anymore. These things seem incredibly minor to me, too, and not at all worth treating one member of your social group like The Weirdo, which making obnoxious comments about TMI every time she slightly crosses social boundaries is absolutely going to do.
posted by Sequence at 12:25 PM on May 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Personally I agree with you that these sort of comments are inappropriate, but I don't think that's really your friend's problem. Her problem is that for whatever reason she can't pull these sort of comments off yet she says them anyway. I think we've all known a few people who could say those things and make everyone laugh and say "Omg, she's hilarious!" But you can't point out to your friend that she isn't charming or pretty or whatever enough to get away with being so blunt. All you're left with is the "Wow, I can't believe you said that!" type of response. That's a) honestly how you feel, b) not too critical or telling her how to act, and c) it leaves it up to her to decide whether that's the kind of impression she wants to give, or not.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:26 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seconding These Birds of a Feather - an instant "wow, that was oversharing!" type of comment could help a lot here. It doesn't have to be big and serious-like - I was able to do this with a friend who had a habit of alluding to her and her boyfriend's sex life more than I was comfortable:
"So I'm glad you guys are visiting us so my boyfriend can talk to you about things - he can talk with Sid about electric design and Sally about hiking and EC about theater. All he has to talk about with me is sex."

"...That's it, new rule - no one is allowed to talk about sex in my presence while I'm single!"
You know? I was jokey about it, but I still made it a request. And it only took a couple times before she stopped.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:29 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I probably wouldn't say anything, but I can see how this might be a little unsettling at times.

I'm not the queen of social appropriateness, and I've had people address things with me by saying something along the lines of "I think that server wasn't sure how to respond to your pee comment" with gentle humor.

Or "Please don't hold back, tell us how you really feel!"

It doesn't seem to be worth a big "Let's Talk About Your Lack of Etiquette" sit-down, but if you address it in the moment - with frank, gentle humor - it might relieve some of the awkwardness you feel without putting her down.

(On preview: I've had people tell me things were TMI, or that they didn't really need to know about X or Y, and it hasn't ruined our friendship).
posted by bunderful at 12:29 PM on May 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'll go against the grain here and say it would be fine for you to mention that you have noticed (something she may not have) that people sometimes feel uncomfortable with her abrupt responses to innocent questions. Do it in a way that she understands you are saying it as a friend, she can take or leave your words. For me it is on the level of having something in your teeth and a friend letting you know. She probably won't care either way but it is obviously rattling around in your head.
posted by 0 answers at 12:32 PM on May 12, 2013


I'd find this pretty mortifying, too. Maybe not the mayo thing, but I think the pee-smell comment was a bit too much.

The thing is, my dad totally does and says stuff like this at dinner. He's over 60 and has been working in banking and financial services for the past 30 years. I don't think this has to do with being around 5th graders. My dad just is kind of awkward and can't read the room very well, so doesn't realize that a joke that might be made just to me privately (like the pee commment) doesn't play so well when used on a perfect stranger (like a waiter). Many people have similar social deficiencies. I often worry that my dad is saying things of this ilk at business meetings or work functions and making everyone uncomfortable, but if he is it doesn't seem to have prevented him from being successful. It makes me cringe, but he's my dad so I just sort of suck it up.

So I think this really comes down to how much you enjoy her company. If she's someone you value greatly aside from this awkwardness, then just suck it up, cringe inwardly, and let it go. But if this is just the tip of an iceberg of things about her that you find annoying and/or stressful, then maybe do a slow fade. Don't tell her about it, though, unless you want a major confrontation.
posted by thereemix at 12:33 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel you. I would have the same reaction as you, and be reasonably horrified at her behavior. I hate that sort of oversharing. But that's on me.

So.

I wouldn't say anything. Her behavior reflects on her and her alone. Plus, it's completely unclassy to call someone out like that. I would just internally cringe, then tell myself to chill out.
posted by gaspode at 12:34 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing about the pee would just make me laugh. I would like that person more for it, and a server who is seriously put out about it is in the wrong job.

Squawking out loud about not liking mayo is the tiniest bit annoying but hardly unusual. Way better than the person who is fussy about food, or music, or whatever, and makes every group outing into an awkward negotiation.

Being a little socially tone deaf is (often) endearing to me, probably because I am that way myself. The stuff you mention wouldn't bother me at all.

You're not going to change your friend, give that idea up. But if it would make you feel better or less complicit in the weirdness to have said something, remark in a light hearted way like bunderful suggests.
posted by mattu at 12:39 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nth-ing bringing it up in a light-hearted way right at the time, rather than having a big sit-down, if you really feel that this behaviour is to her detriment. People often do awkward things because they feel anxious, so making a big deal out of it could make her even more self-conscious, and make the "problem" worse.

But, as others have pointed out, you are not responsible for how your friend conducts herself. Some people find it charming, and those that don't will let her know. At that point, she will decide if she cares to change. If, as it sounds, you value this friendship, it is probably better to let someone else--or several someone elses--handle the negative feedback.
posted by rpfields at 1:11 PM on May 12, 2013


yeah, I dunno. I was expecting some horrific examples. Your friend sounds very mild. I think this is a case where it's two different styles of behavior. I'm someone who says pretty odd things. Sometimes to strangers or the wrong audience. Happens less now that I'm older but I'm still a loose cannon. People have judged me for that. They're not my friends anymore.

If you value this person's friendship, don't bother lecturing her unless her comments are genuinely hurtful. If you don't like this person anyway, get rid of them. It's not like you have no options, but a sit-down is far from the best thing in this situation. You're not going to change her. I second everyone who says that snark/humor is the best way to go.
posted by orangutan at 1:15 PM on May 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is my sister. I cannot offer anything to her, and I am serious about this, NOTHING I have ever offered to her, even if it is something I've seen her use or eat previously, has been either accepted or declined with a polite, "No thank you." It is always with horror and disgust, as if I've offered her a fresh, warm shit sandwich.

While I have not addressed this with her, I don't accept that it is not possible to bring the subject up. I have not found the way to do this. I have on one occasion just blown up and said, "Even a three year-old has been taught to use their manners and say "No, thank you."" She apologized, but that had no lasting effect and didn't really lead to more conversation.

I am waiting for the next time she visits. I plan on not stocking the guest bathroom and when I offer her a plump roll of Charmin, I expect her reply to be, "What? No, I NEVER wipe my ass!"
posted by Jazz Hands at 1:32 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


She sounds super awkward. I would either 1) Stop being friends with her, period. Or 2) I would say something and give her a chance to change.

You are not asking her to change who she is fundamentally. ("Hey, I won't be friends with someone who is openly gay." "Our friendship is over if you still believe abortion is OK." "Hey, if you want to be my friend, you need to love all the Harry Potter movies.") You are only asking her to be more, well, polite. I would tell her straight up, when someone offers her something she doesn't want, she needs to just say "No thanks" because her repulsed reaction is really rude and embarrassing. It's a behavior modification, not a change in who she is.

And honestly, there is no way people don't think that behavior is weird. You are the one doing her a favor by letting her know and giving her a chance to change. If I did something out of being clueless, like pronounced a word wrong or wore a belt wrong or was unwittingly rude, I'd definitely want a friend to give me a heads up.

And then, if she persists in doing it and making everyone around you feel awkward and uncomfortable, you can de-friend without any guilt.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:33 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I disagree with the above comments suggesting your friends who are turned off by her public behavior are somehow indulging in "middle school behavior". I have known people like the one you are asking about; they really do make others cringe; sadly, there is often little you can do about it. And all human beings discuss other's behavior; to suggest this is somehow beneath the dignity of "adults" is quite a bit of hypocrisy. As proof: those same commenters just did the same "middle-school" behavior, criticizing another's actions behidn their back.

It is sometimes a sort of attention-grabbing act: "Look at me! I'm saying something outrageous!" Of course, when it is it's entirely unconscious behavior.

It's also possible your friend may be somewhere on the highly-functioning end of the autistic spectrum. While I'm NOT diagnosing her as such, I am pointing out it's possible - and her socially inappropriate outbursts may not even register to her as being poorly received, since the ability to monitor subtle social feedback is one of the potential hallmarks of autistic behavior. Again, that makes her behavior fairly difficult to curtail or clean up.

I'd go with finding a few generic phrases - on the order of "X may not want to hear about that issue here" - and keep them ready. If she comments or seems hurt, back off apologetically, and take the first private moment to explain that you've noticed strangers reacting badly when she says things like that, that you are guessing she doesn't notice, and that sometimes you even agree with them a bit.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:43 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the responses, all. I think I will do what I've been doing, which is ... nothing. I have all intentions of staying friends with her, and don't think it needs to be addressed. It's certainly not about not wanting to be around "weird" people (that's not even how I'd categorize her) as I consider myself in that camp too. Just wanted to get some input.
posted by FlyByDay at 2:24 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I sort of feel like your issue with her behavior is that you think somehow it reflects poorly on your for being her friend. It doesn't.

I don't really see how the two comments are all that mortifying, and frankly, if those are among the worst offenses she's committed, I don't see that much of a problem.

I second what was said here by kmennie:

You and the others bothered by this may be intelligent, thoughtful adults but you're intelligent, thoughtful adults who are operating within what sounds like a pretty narrow circle in the petite bourgeoisie. If she was an 'important' person of some stripe instead of a schoolteacher people would be commenting, possibly in a complimentary way, about her "eccentricity," not her bad manners.

If her behavior is as described and I'm not missing something, she sounds a little "eccentric" or as others have put it, "a character". I will admit I might have some bias as some of my favorite people are people like your friend; however, I feel the question itself was asked with bias. Sorry if I'm misreading you.
posted by nohaybanda at 2:26 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uh, I probably say things like that. I'm typically pretty oblivious. Sometimes I'll reflect on an interaction later - usually, oh two weeks later in the middle of the night - and cringe. But I am doing my best. If I say something weird it's because I am uncomfortable myself. If a friend were to call me our in the moment I would be surprised and mortified and probably not able to improve in the long run.
posted by bq at 2:42 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have an idea for this deceptively complex problem that I might use in my own case.

Buy two copies of Emily Post's Etiquette.

Give one to your friend to read.

Read the other.

Profit!

Seriously.... there's good stuff in those old tomes. We don't get manners formally taught that much these days and for as long as peeps have been interacting, the interactions have been problematic.

(There are more modern ones, but some things are the same, somethings no longer practiced perhaps should be, and the world is always a better place when we're polite.)
posted by FauxScot at 3:02 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find this pretty horrifyingly rude (basic courtesy is that you don't say anything bad about what food someone else is eating), and if I intended to stay friends with her (though personally, I wouldn't), I would perhaps limit it to house parties and not go out to restaurants with her. Is this an option?
posted by fiercecupcake at 3:35 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha, I find people like this really entertaining (working with the public, we get all kinds.) Leave her alone and let her be herself.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:52 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The popularity of The Big Bang Theory helps to depict a reality of life: there are certain personality types that just do not fit in with the normal expectations of society with respect to everyday manners and consideration, and who may just be unable to bring themselves to do so. We either have to live with it or live without them.
posted by yclipse at 7:00 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who is like this and I understand your pain. It can feel incredibly awkward when she makes these kinds of comments.

I've understood the underlying issue as this: she makes each of these situations about herself in a big way. Turning down mayo is an opportunity to share her opinion about mayo.

And often, with my friend, she doesn't help restart the conversation after she states her opinion. If I'm talking about a sandwich that I had for lunch that I loved and had mayo on it, she'll do her "Oh god I hate mayo!" thing but not a subsequent "anyway, tell me more about that sandwich." So I'm stuck either letting it drop or continuing the story with no sense if she cares at all what I'm talking about (not that she should care THAT much about the sandwich but, you know, this is friends talking about friend things, right?).

I'm not sure if this tracks with your friend at all, but I think often these kinds of tone-deaf communication issues reflect some deeper discomforts or insecurities.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:32 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


One thing Ive learned from reading metafilter is how sensitive people can be. I came from a working class family full of sarcasm and blunt comments fresh from Communist Poland nd thus this whole walkong on eggshells mentality of social interaction is still somewhat strange to me. Maybe she comes from a different background?
posted by eq21 at 8:04 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


As someone who isn't always great at picking up social cues, and who is generally slightly awkward (but lovable!) all around, I would greatly appreciate people telling me something like this. In fact, I think I may do exactly what you're describing to a lesser extent, and had never considered or realized what effect it has before.

Someone up above said not to try to change people, but I think it's perfectly fine to give others feedback, if it's from a place of someone who cares about them and recognizes that it may or may not change anything.

I think being explicit about "when you say things like x, it makes others feel like y" is easier to understand than an offhand "TMI!", but of course that's a much more intense conversation.
posted by !Jim at 10:35 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a former server myself, I'd have been annoyed that the person seems to want to start a conversation about something rather than just saying whether they would like the damn broccoli, asparagus, or fries. It's not any more annoying than if she were to start talking about how that one time Aunt Edna cooked some asparagus and it was so funny, but that's pretty annoying -- there's a lot of time pressure on servers and it's really not necessary to have a completely irrelevant conversation to something that requires a single-word answer.

However, if she's known to tip generously this sort of conversation will be happily indulged.
posted by yohko at 12:19 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm an oversharer. I know it. It isn't a conscious choice to say odd TMI things, they just happen. I do have a couple friends who are much more reserved and get really uncomfortable when anyone mentions private things (bodily functions, sex, etc). For them I work very very hard to keep it to a bare minimum and I am pretty successful. Occasionally they push back and say "TMI", and I apologize and reel it back in a bit. No one is offended or hurt. So some gentle pushback may help.




When someone will ask her if she wants something that she doesn't like, she will make a face as if she's just smelled the WORST THING EVER, and say, "no, ew, I HATE mayonnaise!" rather than just saying no.

As for this, I probably would react more strongly to this than the average person. I hate the juvenile over reaction to things they don't like thing. I feel it is pretty disrespectful. My response to her in times like that would probably be something like "I don't think my offer warranted such a dramatic over reaction. You could just say no." or "Dude, chill out. It is fine if you don't like mayonaise, but you don't need to react as though I offered you raw sewage." or "A simple 'No' would have been fine. We're all grown-ups here, you're allowed to not want something without the big overreaction."

This reminds me of a friend who would say "ow" to EVERYTHING! And not just a small "ow" but a "OWWWWW!" as though she had been stuck with a needle. It was intensely annoying, but it also made her look really weak and crazy. Once when we were walking somewhere our arms brushed against each other. She said "OW!" and I just couldn't take it any more. I said, "Okay, seriously! Enough! That did NOT hurt and on no planet would that warrant an 'ow'! Please stop staying 'ow' to everything, it is ridiculous and makes you sound really childish and overly sensitive." She was taken aback that day, got defensive and grumpy with me, but she stopped doing it. I think it was just a weird habit and she had no idea how stupid and baby-ish it made her sound, and her initial reaction was mostly embarassment.

So maybe your friend doesn't know how ridiculous she sounds when she does the big "EWWWW!" thing.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:58 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Aint nuthin' wrong with a little wierdness. Keeps the world from being boring. Don't bother your friend with your opinion on her bahavior and if it annoys you and your friend set thath much, maybe you should gradually drift away from this friend
posted by WeekendJen at 7:30 AM on May 13, 2013


My first thought, "I bet she's an east coaster, and if she ever comes to Berkeley, she's going to die of mortification." So some of this is cultural, perhaps? Because although what she does is mildly annoying (the mayo comment- the pee comment would be pretty normal for around Berkeley) it wouldn't raise too many eyebrows here, and it would be a thin-skinned waiter that was taken aback by it.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:53 PM on May 13, 2013


I myself have started to detach myself from people who insist on being "characters" past their early 20s. I realize this makes me a bad person, but there it is. And for you own self, you have to be a little more careful about what affectations you allow yourself to have when you're older. Like it's ok to be "wacky fedora dude" at a loft party, but it would be nice to be polite and articulate with the wait staff when all you're trying to do is have a pleasant dinner with friends.

A few well-placed statements of, "dude, TMI!" tends to get the point across. And if not, well, my goal of going out and socializing is to have a pleasant experience. If they can't provide that, then I have to look elsewhere.

I'm not wealthy enough to be eccentric. And neither is she. And neither are my friends. When I become independently wealthy, I can buy a large castle-like house and cultivate social affectations in front of my sycophantic entourage (like maybe adopt a catchphrase or choose a few specific words that I will pronounce in an unusual way) who will choose to put up with me because I throw lavish parties and invite them to my beach house and take them sailing on my yacht.

Until then, my friends and I will deal with those "characters" by ensuring we only encounter them in situations where they don't bring everyone down and discuss them in terms of, "What's the deal with X?" / "Well, you know, he just doesn't present well." Plenty of people, for example, make great party guests, but you wouldn't want them to meet your parents or your significant other. There are people I'd love to have a drink with at a bar, but would have a hard time inviting them along to brunch with friends.

People cultivate these weird attention-seeking behaviors over time and sometimes don't realize that they're past the sell-by date and that sometimes those behaviors that are fun in some contexts are exhausting and unpleasant in others. So one favor you could do for them is make sure the outings you bring them to are ones where their affectations are ok, or at least tolerable.
posted by deanc at 3:38 PM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


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