*or at least I try to be.
First and foremost, let me preface this by saying that I have a very dear friend named Karen. I think we can all say that, can’t we? We all have a friend named Karen and it’s sad that they have gotten a bad rap of late. I will tell you quite honestly, she is the most generous, hilarious and genuine woman you will ever meet. She can drink me under the table and fun follows her around like she is the Pied Piper. Karen and I vacation together with our families, throw theme parties and have a healthy amount of cruise director competition (more on that some other day) and I have always known her to be simply fabulous.
We all know about the rise of Karens…those entitled white ladies who have asymmetrical hair styles and need to talk to managers about all the crap that bothers them. They can be any generation, but it seems like many of them lately are Baby Boomers or Generation X. They have taken the weaponization of their white privilege to new heights. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the internet in general are rife with their antics. Sometimes, if I am feeling low, I Google videos of them being awful (yes, dear readers, I am a big fan of Googling… If you don’t know that by now, you’re clearly new to this blog) just to remind myself that I am indeed morally superior to these awful women. Sometimes, I Google pictures of Daniel Craig without a shirt. It’s called balance, people.
As all of us are now carrying around our own portable video cameras, we can now capture antics like this in real time and splash them across the book of faces, but the experience is even better when these Karens live stream the videos themselves. It’s like a train wreck you cannot help but watch in real time. I’m sure Karens existed before the digital age; they were simply in the wild and you might not ever get to experience one in real life. Kind of like Bigfoot. But with pedicures.
You have to really resist the urge to “go Karen” sometimes. Like right now, as I sit on my lovely back patio on this sultry summer day and write while I consider taking a dip in the pool. There’s a lady in my neighbor’s back yard. It’s not my neighbor. This woman, who I think lives in an adjacent property to my neighbor, is strolling through my neighbor’s backyard with her cat (a gorgeous Siamese) while drinking a coffee (Tim Horton’s) and talking on her phone.
Sidebar; if you don’t know Tim Horton’s… well, you know what do to.
So this woman has become a bit of a staple in the neighbor’s backyard. The last time I saw her I nodded to her politely when I looked up from my laptop and happened to catch her eye. She smiled and waved. The cat seems to like to have a stroll and this cat mom appears to be making sure he does not wander too far. I can respect that; I grew up in the country and I know that cats and busy roads do not mix. We had a cat when I was a kid that was tragically hit by a car. Forevermore, that cat was known as “Grant,” because it cost my dad $50 to get him fixed and he died a week later. FYI… He was named Grant because Ulysses S. Grant is the president on a $50 bill.
It does not appear that this lady is causing any harm or damage. She and her cat are just enjoying the sunshine and taking a stroll through the yard. So I choose to just keep writing; no point in going full Karen. Of course, one might also wonder if this woman is herself a Karen. Because I will say, it takes some balls to wander into other neighbor’s yards like that. I will continue to monitor the situation and report back when I learn more. She and the cat are not wandering into my backyard; if they did, I would be ready to be nice and ask if I can help her. I would not whip out my phone to record her while I pepper her with questions like “WTF are you doing in my backyard? Do you live in this neighborhood? Do you belong here? Is that cat fixed? Is that cat full Siamese?”
I try very hard to be anti-Karen. I go out of my way to smile at people I encounter. You don’t know what their day has been like and if you can resist the urge to be a twat-waffle, all the better. Encounters with grocery clerks and servers in restaurants are always places where I strive to simply do BETTER than the last person in line or at a table. I have worked in retail and grocery and in food service and it’s no picnic, folks. The hours are long, the pay is crap and the general public is often AWFUL. So it’s my personal mission to smile, say thank you, chat them up a bit. Tip well.
In line at the grocery store, I try to be cheerful and upbeat, even as the cashier drops yogurt containers from 5 feet on top of my carton of eggs into the bag. All good. I know that cashing is not an easy job and the customers can be beastly. I survived working one summer in a grocery store when I was 16. This was pre-scanners, so literally the dark ages. You had to memorize what was taxable and what was not. You had to calculate and add bottle deposits manually to the order. Anyone who worked grocery in the mid 80’s knows what HABA stands for. The rest of you… you know.
I have been out with friends and family and lost respect for them immediately based solely on how they treat waiters and waitresses. This is a person bringing me a nice meal which I didn’t have to cook on a table I did not have to set. They 100% should be treated kindly and with respect. But the Karens of this world seem to think these hard workers are servants put on the planet to do their bidding. So in these situations, I try really hard to amp up my “anti-Karen” vibe to make up for my dining partners. Sadly, Karen’s are not typically self-aware enough to get my message and follow along.
Question…Would it be a Karen maneuver to call my friend or family member out on their shitty behavior? Asking for a friend.
As a woman of a certain age and certain socio-economic class, it’s important to me to recognize the privilege I possess. I can use this power for good or be an absolute nightmare to those around me that others may deem inferior. I can recognize that not everyone’s lives are wine and roses all the damn time. Someone I love and respect very much once said to me “Things do not happen to me, they happen for me.”
A good example of this is a situation I was just in today. My oldest is heading off to college this fall. The bill came in and was a LOT higher than expected and I was a little (a LOT) freaked out. I placed a call to the financial aid office and emailed them as well. Then I called the student accounts office. I went into the call prepared to be NICE. I was not sure if this was an oversight on their part or ours. So rather than blowing my lid, I proceeded calmly and kindly. Turned out to be an issue on our end and one that is thankfully easily rectified. In the meantime, I had a lovely chat with a woman about schools reopening in the fall because of Covid. I like to think I made her day a little less awful as she probably has to talk to irate parents left and right. She made my day a little nicer because she was so nice. It does the soul good to just be friendly and resist being a damn Karen!
In closing, to be honest, if had been up to me, I would named this kind of lady a STACY. Simply based on the fact that as a teenager, there was a girl in high school who felt like it was her job to be a bitch to me. She was awful. I wont give her any more airtime than that because, well, I’m too fabulous to care about her now. Let’s face it ladies, we all know those girls; mean girl culture is alive and well. My daughters have been on the receiving end of mean girl antics. Mean girls, in my opinion, grow up to be Karens.
Here’s hoping we can do better, be better. Resisting invisible is also about standing up to crap that’s not right when you see it. Calling out a friend when she’s being an entitled twat. Maybe they don’t even realize they are doing it, so be gentle, but firm.
In the meantime, I’m going to try my best to just be nice. While I keep my eye on that cat lady.