Saturday, May 13, 2017
Yesterday, an acquaintance asked me to come to visit her at her home as she wanted to show me some photographs of a mutual topic of interest to us.
As we sat down at her dining room table, I looked at the opposite wall and said, "I see you have a same Corot print that I do."
She asked, with surprise in her tone, "You know Corot?" Having previously experienced similar condescending remarks from her, which, regrettably, I had allowed the remarks to pass without comment, because in those instances we were in the company of other people. This time, with being just the two of us together, I decided to confront her condescension. I asked, "Why wouldn't I know Corot if you know Corot, and especially a famous painting like Ville d'Avray?" There was no response from her, but just a sudden, sharp intake of breath. I continued, "Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot is my favorite artist." [I admit that I was showing off a wee bit then by knowing Corot's whole name; I so cherish people with three names such as J.M.W. Turner, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Corot]
Still, there was no response from her. I stated, "You didn't answer my question and I'm very interested to know the answer." She hemmed and hawed and said, "I just never expect people from Fayette County...". As her voice trailed off, I did not allow her to continue, but interjected, "But you are from Fayette County, so why would you think that a fellow Fayette Countian would not know Corot?" She said, "But I haven't lived here since I went off to college."
I answered, "That's totally illogical; I knew about Corot when I was a teenager; they actually had books of French artists at the library." [I have found that one of the things people dislike the most is to be accused of being illogical]
She did not respond to that salvo.
I said, "I'm disappointed that you cannot admit what is obvious; that you think you are intellectually superior."
She answered, "No, I don't think that, I just know we have different backgrounds."
I answered, "No, actually you do not know that because you have never once inquired about my background, but I certainly know all about yours, but that still doesn't answer my question." Then she said, "You misunderstood what I meant." I laughed and said, "I'm a woman of great perspicacity, so I'm sure I did understand." She did not answer. I continued by asking, "Please tell me why you would think I wouldn't know Corot but you would? That's a rather simple question." Then I laughed again, which clearly upset her. [I have also found that people dislike being laughed at, along with being accused of being illogical]
I suddenly felt embarrassed, because I was enjoying the attack too much. Shame on me; to use a cliche, I was having a battle of wits with an unarmed person. Clearly, she had not been exposed to rough-and-tumble arguments; it wasn't exactly a Socratic dialogue.
Oh, yes, we do have very different backgrounds!
I stood up to leave and she kept making attempts to apologize, which, if she had known the slightest thing about me, she would know that was exactly the wrong thing to do. I would much rather that she had told the truth that she does feel superior rather than giving a spurious apology.
As I had my hand on the doorknob to leave, I said, "Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3."
I probably won't have another invitation.