One of the behaviors that our dad did not encourage was ‘putting on airs’. The phrase is a bit old-fashioned, but it simply means to act as if you are better than others. Dad never boasted about his accomplishments and did not want us to do so either.
Mother, on the other hand, was the queen of putting on airs. She loved to share how important her family in Indiana was, and later in life boasted about how jealous family members, friends and neighbors were about her ability to earn a college degree. Mother thought she was better than others and would say:
They are just so shallow.
behind their backs. She never allowed others to discuss their accomplishments because they were just making fools of themselves. Of course, those words did not apply to Mother. She was too busy going on and on about her accomplishments to have them apply to her.
When I was in high school, I took French and fell in love with the teacher’s discussions about Paris and the French countryside. I decided it would be fabulous for me to travel to France and discussed the possibility with my dad. He wondered as to my interest and had plenty of questions. He did not buy that I wanted to improve my French, thus making the trip strictly educational. Dad told me that the people of France did not really care for Americans and since I was not fluent in the French language, it would be very difficult for me to communicate.
This did not stop me. I took a second year of French and tried once again to sell him on the importance of immersion in the culture. Dad assured me that there were plenty of opportunities right in our own country and that a trip to France was too pretentious: putting on airs.
I never did convince Dad to send me to France. He did not wish to give into every whim a sixteen year old had and knew that if I really wanted to go, I would make it happen.
Although I have not traveled to France, I did have a boyfriend that summer from Paris. Paris, Illinois, that is. Kind of funny how things sometimes work out.