Just Plain Rude

A friend was on the tube the other day with her 2 very young boys.  She noticed a woman watching them, but thought nothing of it.  Now rather than saying to my friend the standard “I see you have young children” lines, ie “How old are they / Aren’t they lovely / Hard work isn’t it…” what she said was distinctly odd. 

“Do they have different fathers?” 


Would you really ask that? 

My friend was horrified and didn’t know what to say, so she just said “No” and that was it.  I’m sure she spent the next few days coming up with the perfect retort. 

I’m sure this woman wasn’t being deliberately rude, instead she had no filter.  We’ve all done it at some stage, hopefully not as badly.  It’s still astounding that someone would sit on the train and wonder that, then actually ask the boys’ mother. Many would just be astounded that total strangers spoke to each other on the tube. 

It got me thinking (is that my version of Carrie Bradshaw’s “I couldn’t help but wonder?”) of a time when my little girl was a newborn.  She was in a brace for her hips, of course I hated it but on the scale of health problems we were still very lucky.  I was with her in a shop and a woman asked me if I had hurt her, was that why she was wearing that thing?  Luckily my wonderful mother was with me so I didn’t bite her head off, but again, would you really ask that??  As an aside, the best comment I had in that period was from a lovely shop assistant who said to my daughter “What a beautiful girl, and ooh she’s having some work done!” Bless. 

Funny how these comments stick with us.  Being told you look beautiful “in this light” when it’s pitch dark, or someone joking “You have a good face for radio” – we carry them around when in fact they mean nothing.  

Let’s work at making compliments stick instead.  Wouldn’t that be better?  

5 thoughts on “Just Plain Rude

  1. That's sad. And, yes, rude. Her social filter was obviously having problems that day. I wonder if they ever later thought about what she said and how it sounded.

    If she were here in the US, she probably would have said something like “how many baby daddies are there?”

  2. Those women you mention were extremely rude! I really admired my sister, who was living in France then, when in a restaurant a guest said to her: “You should let your baby cry and not make such a fuss to quieten it”, and she answered: “You look as if they have let you cry!” That was not nice either – but her anger was away.
    Often one is looking for a wonderful repartee (which comes hours too late) – the best thing next to it, I found out, is: I give the question back to the rude person. If your friend had asked her:”Do you mean that I am a bigamist?” that would have made that person recognise what she had said! “Of course not!”, she would protest. And in the meantime you have time to think…

  3. The very fact this woman spoke while on the tube probably means she was off her rocker. But, still, some thoughts are not meant to be aired and certainly not from a perfect stranger.
    Wouldn't it be great if perfect come-back lines were always there when we needed them? They never are for me.
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and following.

  4. Thanks for visiting my blog. Laughed at your first anecdote as I know people think that about my kids. I have two teenagers and a 7 year old (I know) and I'm sure everyone thinks it's my 2nd marriage. (It's not). No one so far has asked though.

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