Dirty Looks

I remember dirty looks as well as I remember unkind words.

When I was a young child I remember staying at my grandparents.  They lived across the street from the grade school and there was some sort of school fair event.   I remember being there.  And having cotton candy.   I remember walking back ‘home’ to the grandparents and passing  a woman who gave me  a very dirty look.  You know that kind of “disgusted” look people can give one another with the sneer on their face and a look down their nose at you.   I didn’t know why.  When I got to my grandma’s they didn’t give me dirty looks.  They kind of chuckled.   Apparently I was covered in cotton candy.  Clothes.  Hair.  Arms.  It occurred to me that the lady thought I was a dirty little kid.  I remember feeling like a dirty little kid.

When I was  in grade school I remember being at a school holiday program.  After the program there were many of us still there.  Hanging out.  Enjoying being at school when it wasn’t really school.  A group of us gathered around a piano for someone who was playing songs.   I look across from me and one of my classmate’s sister was standing there.  She was Down Syndrome,  I think.  I’m not sure.  I remember she was one of the “Special Children”.   I smiled at her.   We were all there in the Christmas spirit.   It was a happy setting.  The principal of the school was there, next to this young girl.   The young girl pulled on his sleeve, and to my horror, told him I was laughing at her.  He soothed her and shot me dirty looks.  My heart still hurts thinking about that.  That she thought I was laughing at her.  And that he thought I was capable of laughing at her.

After high school I moved away from my ‘home town’.   I got married.  I got heavy.  I got very heavy.   I can’t tell you how many dirty looks I got when I was at my heaviest.   And I can’t tell you how many times my world seemed full of faces frowning at me.

That’s what I saw looking out.

And what was seen looking at me?

I am sure there are those who have crossed my path in life who when they were looking out from where they were, I appeared to be looking in, to where they were.   And I know that having lived as long as I have, I have shot from my face, my own fair share of dirty looks.

I try very hard to reflect on what it is I do, and who it is I am, and want to be.   For every hurt or wrong I feel I have encountered I want to stop and pay attention.   I don’t want to be righteous and indignant about wrongs inflicted on me.   Not as much, anyway, as I want to pay attention to what hurt me to see if I have done the same to others.

And those dirty looks I received in my life are not near as painful to me as the dirty looks I gave.