My husband is learning to process people's gazes. He requires oxygen. You would think he has leprosy the way people look at him with a cannula in his nose pulling an oxygen tank. He almost gets more attention than me. I don't care if they stare. (Steve calls me an exhibitionist.) I just want to understand why people can't take their eyes off of me. Now, Steve is another story. He don't want to go out in public anymore due to the stares. He's always been a very private person. Me? I'll seductively pull down my long black socks and show you my prosthetics if you want to see them!
Over the years, I've classified four stare types. They are:
- The Sneaky Stare. This type starer notices me but glances straight ahead like they're not going to stare. I walk toward them and at the very last second when we're walking past each other, when they KNOW I'm not going to know they stared, they quickly shift their eyes in my direction for that gratuitous look-see! CAUGHT! Uhhhh, you're not sneaky at all and if you'd just ask me, I'd share my story with you!
- The Blatant Stare. This bold starer just don't care if they get caught. They gawk, turn around in circles to make sure they seen what they think they saw and will probably ask me "What happened to your foot?", "Did you hurt your foot?", "Were you born with Polio?" etc. I've heard them all. Please...stare all you want but don't jeopardize my dignity by playing 20 questions.
- The Backwards Stare. This type's curiosity gets the best of them. They're cool and collected when they notice Tammy has a problem. They don't want me to feel uncomfortable or "stared at" so they look away, until, I get by them. Then they look back at me trying to politely figure me out until they realize I know their type. When my eyes meet theirs, it's over! CAUGHT! I've often wished they would turn into a pillar of salt.
- The Apologetic Stare. This is the worst starer ever. Bless their hearts. They mean well, but when you're stared at the entire length of a 10 mile mall it's difficult to accept those Basset Hound hung down jaws and sad baggy eyes that seem to say "I'm so sorry you're hurt and limping." Really. People. It's okay!!! If you sincerely feel that sorry for me, hand me a dollar or the keys to a new car with a disabled tag. Please don't stare!
I made it my calling to teach my children to accept others as God made them. That's a whole 'nother subject because mostly people are the way the world has made them.
My favorite personal wisdom is this: If everyone had something "different" to deal with.....people would be "different", possibly even polite. If you gotta stare, stare hard to see the good in people not to figure out the bad.
Here's looking at you,
The Happy Handicap