“Hasn’t she put on weight, that one.” Villager O comments on Villager S’ granddaughter who’s just cycled past and definitely isn’t out of earshot. Villager O is certainly right, it is a bit of a who ate all the chorizo scenario, but I’m feeling dreadfully sorry for the girl.
Where in the UK people might mention something about someone’s weight loss (don’t you look great!), in the village all is fair game. When they’re fat they’re called fat and when they’re skinny they’re skinny. When your clothes are nice they are nice, and when they are not they’re not. Kids aren’t spared.
The first time I heard villager O utter the f word to one of the village kids I was horrified and shocked, worried about the terrible effects this might have on their self-esteem of the kids. But they seem ok in general.
Villagers tend to be more worried though about skinny kids and if he or she is eating well enough.
I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of tactlessness. Villager J as well as Villager M have told me I ought to stop dressing like a bag lady. Villager O tells me all the time that my potato planting skills suck.
The most unnerving thing is the moment before tactlessness, when you know you’re being scrutinised (Villagers excel at this, they literary look you up and down) and then the comment.
Villager C’s daughter, who is my age, was a bit on the chubby side a while back and villager O told her in her face that she had put on a lot of weight and that she ought to lose a bit. When I berated villager O that that wasn’t a very nice thing to say, villager C’s daughter actually said to me “but it is true, I have, and I need to lose weight!”
That made me think. Of course tactlessness isn’t exactly nice, and the truth hurts, but isn’t it preferable to hear the truth at times, rather than being handed a carefully knitted woolen lie? It might look nice but it actually bloody itches when you wear it.
Isn’t being overly polite often more rooted in a worry how people might perceive us if we tell them the truth, and the effects it would have on us if we’d upset them?
Tactlessness is in many ways so much easier. The beating around the bush all the time, being polite, being nice, sometimes just a clear “You really piss me off today” works miracles. Telling it like it is, is quite liberating.
Especially when afterwards you can still be friends. The way it is in this village.