When I saw that the topic for this week's Spin Cycle is opinions, I knew it wouldn't be hard to come up with a spin. The problem would be narrowing it down. I could write about how difficult I often find it to give my opinions on certain subjects, because I worry if I disagree with someone, I might offend them. Or I could write about how much it bugs me when people develop opinions they won't ever reconsider despite the fact that they are based on misinformation (don't even get me started on all the crazy emails these kinds of opinions generate, especially on the topic of politics).
Any of these topics could have gotten me writing, but instead I am choosing to blog about one of my biggest pet peeves, what I like to call Maleficent Prophecies of Doom (or MPoD for short). Despite its pompous title, these sorts of opinions are ubiquitous. You have probably been the recipient of an MPoD without even realizing it. Very often they start with the phrase "Just you wait," as in these examples:
"Just you wait. When you have teenagers they will never talk to you and you will know the misery I feel."
"Just wait. You'll see, as soon as your son enters elementary school you'll have to fight tooth and nail to get him services and it will be a complete nightmare."
"When you hit 40, your body will totally fall apart and you will age 20 years in one day and your life will forever be miserable. Just you wait."
I hate MPoDs for so many reasons. The person who bestows such pronouncements seems to find glee in the prospect that you will soon be joining her in the Hell in which she currently resides. These people tend to take delight in other people's misfortunes, and that makes me feel uncomfortable.
Don't get me wrong. I have been known to indulge in a certain amount of schadenfreude. I have on occasion wished that a Smug Mother of Girls would have a seriously rambunctious boy after she gave me a witheringly judgmental glare on the playground. I have also been known to take some satisfaction when people who have been mean to me or to my kids have gotten their comeuppance. But I am not proud of those feelings. I tend to reveal them only to my closest friend because I don't want people to know about my mean streak.
But those who regularly make MPods don't hide their selfish desire for everyone to be as miserable as them. And for some reason when this mean-spiritedness is flanked by a "Just you wait" and an "You'll see" all of a sudden it is socially acceptable to be an ill-tempered shrew.
Let me highlight an example of a particular Maleficent Prophecy of Doom that Bil and I still talk about. One New Year's Eve, right after our first anniversary, Bil and I attended a small party at my brother and sister-in-law's house. While we were playing Taboo with various family members, we noticed major tension between my sister-in-law's brother and his wife, M. It was obvious they were fighting, about what I am not sure, but M was constantly biting her husband's head off. She yelled at him for missing her Taboo clues, for not giving better clues when it was his turn, and she was making everyone feel uncomfortable.
Bil and I sat on the couch minding our own business. We happened to be holding hands, which apparently really ticked off M, because she turned on us suddenly and declared with great vehemence, "Just you wait. When you have been married for 10 years, you won't be holding hands! You'll see."
It shocked me, her absolute antipathy towards Bil and I, two people who did nothing other than appear happily married. Why, I wondered would anyone hope for another to have marital problems?
What is sad about these predictions is that when we use them, we become victims. Victims of fate. We are saying that we have no control over our lives or anything that happens in them, that everyone suffers this way so why bother changing? And that saddens me. I know we don't have complete control over many aspects of our lives, so to relinquish the control we do have (ie: the ability to not fight over a game of Taboo) is so wasteful, in my opinion.
More than that, when we predict another's problems, we are bringing them down with us. We are stealing their hope. We are wishing hard times on them.
Interestingly, for whatever reason, when an acquaintance begins to predict some doom and gloom in my life, I feel determination begin to swell in my chest. I am overcome with a desire to prove them wrong. Maybe that's a good thing.
All I know is that Bil and I have been married for 8+ years and we are still holding hands.
And we never fight over Taboo.
Take that, M.