Have you ever been dumbfounded by something someone has said to you? It’s usually something inappropriate or insulting, and you are so surprised someone would say it, that you stand with your mouth open, not knowing how to respond. You eventually come up with a pithy retort, but it is an hour after the fact. Here are a few examples of what I have heard and how I learned to respond accordingly.

Since I have become a woman of a certain age, I notice that many of the unfortunate comments concern age. My husband and I were at a restaurant for breakfast. There was a bowl of creamers for coffee, but they were all hazelnut, and I am allergic to it, so my husband asked the waitress for regular creamer. She replied, “Oh, I know. When you are older, you don’t want the fancy creamers.” When I decide how to respond to comments, I ask myself if it was mean-spirited, or if the person didn’t realize that a comment was offensive. In this case, it was obvious that the waitress did not realize she had insulted us. We still make fun of that moment each time we are out and need creamers.

Another age-related comment elicited a different response from me. My friend Sally and I were looking at the results board at a race, and There’s Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendez was playing. I said to Sally, “I love this song.” A young lady next to me said with shock, “You like this song?” I replied, “You don’t?” She said, “I love it.” I asked her why she was so surprised I liked the song, and she hesitated and then said as she gets older, she likes younger songs too. I asked her, “Are you saying I’m old?” At this point, Sally and I just started laughing, and the girl walked away. I want to remain kind if I can, but I don’t have any patience with hatefulness.

Pregnant women have to deal with many unfortunate comments too. Comments like “Are you having twins?” “Wow, you are huge!” and many other comments should be kept in our heads.

The last type of comments I’ll mention are the ones truly meant to hurt someone. I think the best way to deal with this type of comment is to confront the person who says it, and let them know it was inappropriate.

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