That didn’t last long though. My first meeting of the day was with a student named Max. I like Max. He is a good egg – friendly, kind, and loyal. But Max also has no filter – sometimes he says things that most folks would filter out either based on politeness or diplomacy. He doesn’t think about those things he just says what comes to mind.
In my meeting with Max we discussed many things. Toward the end of our meeting the topic of smoking came up. I mentioned to Max that I smoked many moons ago, and he said, “Yeah, I kinda’ figured that.” I was curious as to why he said that. Surely, I didn’t still smell like smoke as I quit over 20 years ago. I wondered did I make comments that supplied insight into my reformed smoking status? Had I mentioned something in passing before in class or in a meeting? I was puzzled at his statement, and then I made one critical error in judgment. I asked Max why he said what he said. Rookie mistake.
Well, with Max you get what you ask for. He said, “Well, you have a lot of wrinkles and you look old for your age.” AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!! Why did I ask??!!
Now, I know Max – I should have known better, but this caught me off-guard. All the air fluttered out of the bright, shiny red balloon. In one response Max took me from floating along to a sad shriveled used-up balloon on the floor. It was a dramatic shift. It was a dagger in the heart to be sure.
I was so profoundly taken aback that I had to immediately tell my colleague and the graduate student in the office next to me – as if by uttering it I would somehow be able to reclaim some of the air that was let out of me. Since then I have told a lot of folks about this – they all grimace and groan at the statement – they say, “Who says that kind of thing?” Well, I can answer that query – Max does.
My meeting with Max was pretty much over after that comment. I told Max I was fairly sure that of all the comments I will forget over time – his would not be one of them. I don’t think that scar will ever heal, but I still have to love Max despite his assessment of the impact smoking had on my aging process. Max always means well even when he doesn’t quite get to where he’s trying to go.
The moral of this story – don’t ask Max any question you don’t want a matter-of-fact answer to…and if you do, be ready to get deflated. Also, note that you may find yourself lingering at bathroom mirrors to examine that face that has apparently been aged by smoking…and then you may feel a need to acquire the high dollar face potions that take away the years…and then you may find yourself googling plastic surgery. It gets ugly fast my friends, so learn from my mistake and be careful what you ask for.
Day one thousand one hundred and ninety-nine of the new forty – obla di obla da