Never Establish Eye Contact

Our stepmother had some kind of funny pieces of advice that she shared whenever the mood hit her. If you happened to be out in public and there were strangers around that she felt might want something from her, she always said:

Never establish eye contact.

I think about this piece of advice whenever I am at a shopping mall and am pestered by salespeople selling lotions, sunglasses, purses and other various products. I try to never meet their eye so I do not have to say once again that I am not interested.

Beatrice also thought that she knew what television shows everyone should watch and enjoy. There was little room for deviation. She was the queen of the remote control and you either liked the program or, if you did not like it, she thought there was something not quite right about you. Since she loved television, when visiting, you had to talk over the show or just shut up and listen. Controlling, you may say. That would be a big hell yes!

Our family time together was often spent listening to stories about people we never met and we often wondered if they were television characters, imaginary friends or salespeople at stores. Beatrice has always loved to talk and does not take kindly to sharing the spotlight.

Her sense of humor, which has been written about in detail, is legendary. She loves a good joke and revels in the telling of them. However, often her humor was biting and at someone’s expense. The laughter then becomes uncomfortable or inappropriate. Beatrice also would say that since she had such a good sense of humor, people always loved to have her around.

I guess telling us not to establish eye contact was good advice. It has certainly cut down on my purchases of unneeded and unwanted products at the mall. And as far as having a good sense of humor, who doesn’t like to laugh? Especially if it is not at someone’s expense.

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