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Barren Advice: Eight

This is the eighth installment of Barren Advice. You can ask questions that are fertility or non-fertility related. But today, I am turning the tables on you.

Barren Advice is posted each Tuesday. If you have your own question for Barren Advice, click here to learn how to submit. Please weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section.

Dear You:

Rather than answer advice today, I am asking advice from you. An etiquette question on correcting your elders. I have a friend who is considerably older and wiser who has two facts wrong about me yet keeps repeating them every time she introduces me to a new person. The first one, that I have “incredible blue eyes” is clearly wrong if I’m being introduced to the person face-to-face. Usually the person nods, peers at my eyes, gets a confused expression on their face, and we move on. No one has said to her, “but she doesn’t have blue eyes!” Yet.

The other fact, that I play violin, is not immediately apparent. Though I took one violin lesson during college, I’m not sure where this idea comes from, but she thinks it is one of the most interesting things about me and therefore adds it to every introduction. Every once in a while, the person turns out to be an violin player too and asks me a question but for the most part, this fact is simply noted and we all move on in the conversation.

I’ve gently corrected my friend via email and in conversation, pointing out that my eyes are hazel and I don’t play violin at all. Yet by the time we see each other again, she has forgotten this and adds these two incorrect facts into the next introduction. How hard would you push to have these facts corrected? Would you send another email or make a phone call about it or correct her in the moment when she is making the introduction? Would you simply allow legions of people to walk away from a conversation with you believing they are colour-blind if they see my eyes for what they are (hazel) or that they’ve just spoken to a violinist?

So give me advice today.

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1 N { 06.10.08 at 6:42 am }

If it were me…

It would depend also on the age, and how well I knew the person. But, if I’ve corrected them previously, then I’d assume it’s a memory thing, and likely not push it too hard, as I wouldn’t want to embarrass them. While it may be awkward to work around those bits of conversation, I’d rather myself be awkward than make my friend feel bad.

But that’s me. Your mileage may vary. šŸ˜‰

2 Samantha { 06.10.08 at 6:57 am }

I usually try to correct people with wrong facts about me, in a gentle way. Like, “some people might see my eyes as blue, but most people see them as hazel, so that’s how I describe myself.” Or, “I actually don’t play the violin, but I do [play the clarinet, sing, attempt to belt out a song in the shower on occasion]. It doesn’t seem like trying to correct this person directly is terribly helpful, so I would just use these gentle corrections in conversation when you’re being introduced, so that the new person doesn’t come away with wrong information. And who know? Maybe sometime the correct information will sink in.

3 sky girl { 06.10.08 at 7:03 am }

I agree with Samantha. Polite and immediate correction. May work wonders. šŸ™‚

4 SAHW { 06.10.08 at 7:25 am }

If she’s a bit older, and you’ve already pointed it out to her in the past, I would just leave it as is…maybe during the introduction you could try to slip something in, like, actually I don’t play violin anymore, or something like that. But I wouldn’t bother correcting your friend directly, because I think it’s probably a memory issue and not something she is doing intentionally.

5 bleu { 06.10.08 at 7:43 am }

I would laugh easily every time she does it and say “Oh she is so silly, my eyes are hazel and I played the violin twice at 10” or some such thing.

6 ~Hollie { 06.10.08 at 7:43 am }

I totally know what you are talking about. I just really don’t pay it much attention anymore. This 84 year old woman that I see on a regular basis always comments on my beautiful hair. She also insists on telling me about a dr visit 2 years ago in which the “dr wants me to have that Die-UHH-BEET-ES (translation Diabetes).” He just checks her to make sure she hasnt developed it, but you can’t convince her of that. She has good days and bad. I just enjoy being with her. I don’t read much into her mutterings, I figure that she probably replays conversations in her head all the time.

7 Tash { 06.10.08 at 7:46 am }

I’m with bleu — correct gently, with a touch of thanks and humor. And as crazy as this is, I totally get this and I HAVE blue eyes and I DID play violin quite seriously, but I guess the fact that I went on to get a PhD, run a marathon, become a mother, pales in comparison. whatever. We’re all stuck in someone’s head at some point, aren’t we.

8 Dianne { 06.10.08 at 7:49 am }

Well, my thought is if she is doing it to you – she is probably doing it to everyone she is introducing you to.

So, I let it go. And if the individuals starts about the violin – I would correct it then.

Good luck!

9 JuliaS { 06.10.08 at 8:06 am }

Okay – I know I am no help whatsoever because I am just laughing my head off at the legions of people with perplexed looks on their faces wondering if they need to have their eyes checked! :0)

Sadly – I think most people are just going to assume your older and wiser friend is simply a victim of the ravages of time and that she is a little less than lucid. If people wish to pursue it further, they will, and when one asks if you give violin lessons you can set them to right.

I dare say we all know or are related to someone whose memory is a bit dodgy most days – so most people probably aren’t going to put up a fuss about it.

10 Io { 06.10.08 at 8:26 am }

I would get several different colors of contacts and switch them off every time I saw this person. And insist that she have you be the entertainment at a party where you will play the violin.
Unless, as others seem to suggest, she might be a gentle older friend with memory problems, in which case I’m an ass.

11 Tanya { 06.10.08 at 8:33 am }

I’d have to go along with letting it slide. If you’ve already tried to clear it up I feel like further attempts would just make her feel bad… I’m assuming she is quite a bit older here… all those people who look at you to see your beautiful blue eyes are going to realize she’s wrong anyway so why embarrass her?

12 wanttobeamom { 06.10.08 at 8:42 am }

I’m with the masses… I would let it go, especially the eye color bit. If the new person does want to talk violin talk then you might do the humor approach to correct them, especially if your friend is still standing there. Other wise it doesn’t seem like a battle that I would pick to fight.

13 Tammy { 06.10.08 at 8:43 am }

Well, I think I would find a time to maybe work the eye color into the conversation. Maybe like, “Sometimes I hate that I have cow brown eyes. Green eyes are much more exciting than my brown eyes.”

As far as the violin, I am at a loss. Maybe say something about wishing you played some/any type of instrument so you could pass it on to the kids. Then when she says, “You play violin.” Simply answer, “Oh, I had one lesson and hated it. I never actually learned to play.”

14 april { 06.10.08 at 8:57 am }

ditto what Bleu said. My grandmother is getting up there in years and seems to remember things that none of the rest of us do. (And she uses it against us, too!) šŸ˜› I just try to remember that one day we’ll be old and we’ll probably get some facts screwed up too. Oh who am I kidding, at 32 I already do it! šŸ˜‰

15 katedaphne { 06.10.08 at 9:24 am }

I’d let the eyes thing go, since anyone who sees you can see for themselves what color they are. When she says the violin thing, I’d go with a smile, a compliment to her, and a deflection, as in: “Oh Nancy is much too kind. I took a violin lesson once but it didn’t take.”

16 calliope { 06.10.08 at 9:34 am }

I think it is one thing if it is a memory issue associated with her old age (as in early dementia or something), but it sounds like she just has this rote prepared “bit” for you that is always going to flow out.

I think I would create your own “bit” in response to hers. So when she goes in with blue eyes & violin just jump right on in with something like, “I think she is talking about my alter ego who also has blond hair and is staring on broadway!” or something equally NOT you.

I have had to correct many, many old ladies about me and some get it and some are just stuck in a rut.

17 xavier2001 { 06.10.08 at 9:36 am }

Forgive me if I repeat something, I haven’t read the other comments yet. If it is something harmless, I would just let it go and play along. When my grandma was alive she was sure to send each of her 28 grandkids a birthday card. As she got older (and thereby less sharp) she somehow got in her head that my birthday was the second of November, not April. The last 5 years of her life I got a birthday card in November, which always made me smile, I still miss that card even now.

18 kate { 06.10.08 at 9:49 am }

If I understand the initial point of your question, it was regarding respect for one’s elders or some such similar concept. And at the core, I think that comes down to whether you consider a correction to be disrespectful. If so, then even correction with humor is disrespectful (maybe even more so because it could seem like you are regarding her impression of you as foolish- which it is, but I digress). However, if you think that honesty is tantamount, no matter what, then just gently correct her words- “I have to say ‘hazel’ on my driver’s license because they’re more brown-green than anything else.” or “I took a lesson in college, but I haven’t kept up with the violin since.”

I don’t know. I’m kind of an ass, so I’d say something really snarky and witty, ‘cos at my core, I don’t think that age earns respect, but if for you the fundamental concern is over respect vs disrespect based on age, then I would probably just vote for letting it slide so as not to risk being cruel.

19 Deb { 06.10.08 at 10:34 am }

I started to write a comment but upon reading the first few – mine would have been exactly like Samantha’s. That is the absolute best way to handle this situation (IMHO). No need for people to think things about you that aren’t correct – no matter how inconsequential they may be.

20 **susy** { 06.10.08 at 10:47 am }

I’d try to nicely and nonchalantly say something to correct her, like “well they’re more hazel…” or “well it was only a cpl lessons…”

After a cpl times of you doing that in front of who she’s introducing you to, she’ll probably stop or question you, where you can straighten it out.

21 C { 06.10.08 at 11:05 am }

Context question: Is this person known for mixing up her facts, or does this seem to be an isolated case?

That would make a difference to me in how I handled it.

22 Amber { 06.10.08 at 12:26 pm }

In my culture respecting elders is very important. In my opinion you should 1) get blue contacts, 2) learn to play the violin…and throw in some other string instruments for good measure.

Seriously, I’d just let it slid. You tired more than once. It’s not like she’s mistaken about something of consequence.

23 Still Standing Strong in A Bloom of Hope. { 06.10.08 at 6:04 pm }

I don’t know… sigh..It reminds me of my next post on my blog about my dad, who is obviously an elder. I tell him about Infertility and what I’m going through and he goes every single f-king time, DON’T STRESS. JUST RELAX. He is a dude as well right?

So, I think, just have to keep correcting people. But I know how exhausting that can be.

24 Adam { 06.13.08 at 10:48 pm }

I’d like to add my vote for the immediate gentle correction.

…I am confused that this person is not getting the “email correction”. It seems like that would be enough. Since it’s not, I would be also bothered by that and therefore just have an honest conversation with her some time when we were alone….but that’s my personality so it works for me. I’m not sure what works best for you, you’ve got to be yourself right?



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