When I was in high school, the cards of popularity were pretty well stacked against me. I looked “different,” first of all, which in the world of adolescents is pretty much a curse. Insofar as sports went, to say that I was not talented would be a horrible understatement. The fact is that my only athletic talent was catching spherical objects with my face, regardless of the size of said spherical object. I would get pain in my ribs after running for about 2 minutes. However, there was one thing I did in high school that I unquestionably dominated, and that was domestic extemporaneous speaking on the speech & debate team. Don’t get me wrong – this was no ticket to the popular crowd. However, every Saturday for months at a time, I was the person to beat. I brought home a trophy almost every weekend. I felt respected, in my element.
Then, my team and I went out to dinner before a big tournament.
Imagine going out with a group of people whom you like but whom you also are sort of competitive with at the same time. And then imagine having someone pull your pants down in front of all of those people.
Don’t worry. That didn’t *exactly* happen. However, something that felt similar did happen. As a hostess came over to seat us, she asked one of the coaches if we’d be needing a kids menu. The question, of course, was in reference to me. Suffice to say, I cried, the hostess cried, the waitress cried…I think even the manager burst into tears at one point. It was awful.
Of course, this was not the first nor the last time I would be offered a kids menu or other related material in completely awkward situations. I was eating lunch with my mom at a mall restaurant one day and the waitress asked if we’d be needing a sippy cup. Bear in mind, now, that I was in high school at the time. Did the waitress see a lot of 12-year-old kids that needed sippy cups? Did she experience a lot of young looking people who had extreme eye-hand coordination problems? I’ll never know. However, I did say yes to the sippy cup. That’s how I roll. I didn’t get it.
Perhaps the most puzzling instance in which I was identified as a child was when I went out to a business lunch. I was dressed rather formally – I think even in pinstripes, and the hostess asked if we’d be needing a kid’s menu. I have often wondered what kind of kids she saw. I mean, this was a Bob Evans, so I wouldn’t think parents would go to the trouble of dressing their kids to the nines in order to eat sausage gravy and biscuits. But apparently children came in their in business suits often enough that the question was warranted. Go figure.
These scenarios used to bother me a lot (see high school experience). Nowadays, if someone offers me a kids menu, crayons, or a booster chair (that really happened) I tend to say, “Yeah!” This infuriates my brother when it happens in his company. He feels I am helping the hostess or waitress demean me. I figure that if they want to give me a dollar hot dog I’ll take it, and I have always loved coloring.
I suppose if I were a truly enlightened person I would take the host or hostess aside and say, “Hey there. I know this is hard to understand, but even though I am small to your eyes, I am actually a big girl. All the way grown up. Sometimes people come in different shapes and sizes, and as you’re in the service business you should strive to be more sensitive.” I may get to that point one of these days. For now, I’ll enjoy my sippy cups.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sliceofchic/4876620694/ via Creative Commons