Different Worlds

She sat across from me in the waiting area at the hair cutting place. She was about 70, stylishly dressed in gray and white, eyes covered by big glasses. Her hair was a bed-tousled, blond and big–1970s Morgan Fairchild big. She had on fake nails, French manicured, so long that she had to touch things with the pads of her fingers.

I have been accused of talking to anybody about anything, but she spoke first. “You already have really short hair,” she said pleasantly, are you getting it cut shorter?”

“No, I had it cut last night, but the color didn’t take, so I’m having the color re-done,” I replied, marveling at her neutral lipstick, outlined in sparkly lip liner.

“I was thinking of having mine done like Snooki had it in People last week,” she said and added, “or the latest Katy Perry, do you know what I mean?”

I shook my head, No.

The woman looked at me. “Didn’t you see last week’s People magazine?” she asked, incredulous.

Again, I shook my head, No.

She looked at me seriously. “You aren’t getting any younger, and you need to keep up with the world around you,” she admonished. “You need to pay attention to the people who make the news.”

I looked at her, realizing with a sort of bump in my reality that we were living on two different planets.

“I don’t think I know who Katy Perry is,” I said slowly, remembering vaguely that I’d seen a trailer for a movie, and seemed to remember something about her being married to a Brit with big hair.

The woman looked at me, horrified. “These are important people in our world. They are part of what we are aware of and talk about every day. Don’t keep up and you’ll be lost.”

I don’t think I’ve talked about Snooki or Katy Perry in the last two months. Maybe six. Or ever.

But it was a good conversation. I realized how many different points of view there are in a small space–a waiting room. And how many more there must be in the world. People who feel that celebrities are their family, their style icons, important part of their lives.

I also realized that I live in a different world. Respecting celebrities’ privacy, all the time, not just when they ask for it. I’m not denigrating the woman, we are just different. Completely. She thought I was out of touch, unaware of the world in which we live, and I wonder what she thinks about SB-1070, the “Papers, please” law that affects immigrants and residents who look like immigrants. She may never have heard of it.

Because just you are sitting next to someone doesn’t mean you live in the same world.

Quinn McDonald lives in an interesting world and has no desire to wear glittery lip liner.

23 thoughts on “Different Worlds

  1. 🙂 This year I am aspiring to be less judgmental, so I will gloss over the lizard comment in my head and not allow myself a smirk (well, only a small one).

    I think to myself how different we are whenever I am picking my children up from school and see the groups of mums standing around in little groups looking everyone else up and down.

    In my better moments I think how lucky we are to live in such a diverse world where people can make glittering lip liner and there are people to buy it. No fixing or understanding required other than we are all just different.

    On other days I have to remind myself both that I am aspiring not to be judgmental this year and that there is more to me than what they will ever be able to perceive there is. And maybe there is more to them than what I perceive them to be as well.

    Sometimes again, we are just all parents watching our children on stage and all feeling proud.

  2. Living overseas for a while was fascinating – Thailand especially so with the tourist T-Shirts that say SAME SAME but DIFFERENT. We had a little saying, especially to new arrivals when they exclaimed about some cultural difference, especially if they didn’t understand the origin or were inconvenienced. “It’s not better or worse, it’s just different.”

  3. I’ve been thinking about this and I’m not sure I agree. Or disagree. Here’s the thing: if you meet somebody whose world view is both different and conflicts with yours, then what? Example: person A takes pride in writing and everything related to it. Person B thinks U R dum 2 wory abowt it becuz U R old fashund. Sometimes seeing a particular value (or lack of it) in something makes one world impinge upon another.

    From an instrumental (“what works”) point of view after all, I no whut dis sez n U do 2. But it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard, at least to me.

    • argh. Speaking of fingernails on a chalkboard, sometimes your commenting software does not properly interpret tagging! That last sentence is not supposed to be italicized.

    • Sure. The big-haired woman was like fingernails on a chalkboard to me initially, too. But I had to let it go, and simply see her in a different perspective. I can’t (and have no inclination to) fix or change people, and sometimes I do feel like I’m living in a zoo. I just have to figure out which side of the bars I’m on.

  4. Just because she’s Morgan Fairchild… what horrible things to say to someone… first of all, if you want to be snarky, she’s a bit “dated” with the “big” hair and long nails! Ugh!

    • She had a hair-do that she liked, she had a life she liked, she felt connected in her own way. She wasn’t rude, just herself, which is fine. Waaaay too many people try to fix people today, so she was fitting in with the mold of what she thinks is cool. With my short hair and short (frequently ink-stained nails) I’m no one’s perfect BFF, either. It was just interesting, seeing someone so different from me and being reminded that the world is full of difference.

  5. my Mom was always saying I never read the papers or heard anything about news (this was over 20 years ago). . But she knew everything going on in the world, maybe even the rock stars. Being in that lady’s same age range, I just had my hair cut really short and wear minimal makeup. Doesn’t this lady know that too much makeup shows up the lines?

    • OK, I’ll allow myself one snarky comment: she looked like a lizard. Deeply tanned, and very lined. But Pete hit the answer on the head: what makes us care about what we care about? What makes us think like we do?

  6. Yeah, well, Terence Tao found the flaw in Xian-Jin Li’s attempted proof of the Riemann Hypothesis and I think everybody should read it to see where Li went wrong. If people would just take an interest in the important things maybe it wouldn’t take a Fields medal winner like Tao to find these things!

    (It had to do, of course, with the assumption of the strength of dilation symmetry in function h, which was important for the adelic Fourier transform.)

    But the more fascinating question is how and why we choose the things we find important.

  7. By the way I love Katy perry….she got married in India and had elephants and lots of fireworks at her wedding…..in my dream world that would have been my choice! Rather creative I thought! X

  8. I am off the veggie patch to water….might put on some lipstick for the hell of it whilst doing! Last nite we watched a quizz show on tv,one of the questions was all about music ….for the first time in my life I hadn’t heard of any of the people…current…it was a lightbulb moment! My daughter had known them age 12,but I realized how my interests have changed and my access to magazines no longer exists. We live in a remote place in Spain,When people visit they bring me magazines as they know I love them….the difference is they are now country living and interior magazine rather then popular culture! I still can’t resist having a look in Hello in the hairdressers though! I listen to the radio show that plays music I love and the dj talks about London and the places I love and miss…so I keep up with current trends to a point. In my bubble. This Sunday could be the day I have finally…at 49 and a half grown up…! Will celebrate by picking some courgettes! Thanks your post apt as always!x

  9. I lurve glittery make-up! Except I wouldn’t waste it on my face, lol! I’ve been using it on art dolls since the 80s, and am frequently spotted trying to find bright blue eyeshadow among the Avon samples in the local thrift shops, seeking the latest substitute for Pearlex.
    Seriously, we all have our own take on how the world turns and what’s important. Its a good reality check when we realise the people we pity for having limited lives actually feel sorry for us because we have no idea about their world! But in the end its not really about what we think is important, whether its about Katy Perry or art; its about what is in our hearts, and that has nothing to do with our artistic abilities. Being creative and appreciating and celebrating the little things in life is just one way of leaving the world a better place than when we arrived in it.

  10. That is so very true. Often, it feels as if we live in “world bubbles” within this world, which often touch but rarely intersect. But like you, I like my “world” and the lufe that I have made – which also deos not include celebrity watching, but does include many things others would find pointless or meaningless. I’m off today, a sunny Sunday morning, to take part in the Greystones Art and Photography open air exhibition at the harbour!

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