The Tormenting Uncle

My uncle Roy is a pillar in my life. I have grown incredibly close to him over the years and value his position in my life. But man oh man, did he torment me as a kid. He was the uncle who had a wealth of riddles, faces, and button pushing one liners that he would use just to get under my skin. Just for the reaction of it all. When you are a hormonal 16 year old girl, this expression of love on his part was an on-going source of frustration. Our relationship took a turn for the better when I finally learned to dish it back to him. Now, we are closer than ever and I am proud to be his niece and family.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my uncle Roy lately. Particularly because there are a bunch of men along my route to work or really anywhere, who insist on saying or doing the most absurd things and I can easily let them get under my skin. Take for example the man who lives next door for me. Traoré is married and has a son who is in his early 20s. Traoré has lived across the street (and now beside me) for over 2 years. We have said the occasional hello but we have never really engaged until a few weeks ago when he told me and Amanda that we should drop in to chat. I am not really the drop in on another person type, so I pretty quickly pushed it out of my mind. The other day, as I was rushing out the door to get to an early morning meeting he stops me to kindly say:

“I am angry with you”

“oh yeah?” I said as I continued biking slowly “what did I do?”

“you know exactly what you’ve done!”

“Mr.” I said “I am running late for a meeting, and have no idea what you are talking about. What is the problem?”

He broke out in a big smile and waved me on “Ah, I see! We will talk when you get home tonight”

And it hit me. This interaction of being called out by a perfect stranger would typically have made me frustrated and cranky. BUT he wasn’t calling me out – he was trying to get under my skin. Just like my uncle Roy. It is a kindly expression of care not an aggravating source of frustration.

So I’ve put this into practice – dish it back when it is dished out. I have used it for people who accuse me of not dropping by enough, I have used it for strangers who try to tell me I am doing something wrong, or for people who just feel like they have the right to comment on my life in some shape or form. And it works! Bamako isn’t deliberately trying to frustrate me, it’s just waiting for me to dish back some of the banter. Well Bamako, I have had +25 years of training with the best of the best (shout out to uncle Roy!!). Bring. It. On.

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