A little conversation at work made my brain hurt a bit.
Male (French-speaking) Colleague: By the way, is your husband English or French?
Me: He’s British, yeah, but we’re not married, I told you that the other day.
Male Colleague: Oh, I know, I just called him that out of respect.
What is that supposed to mean? Where is the respect in what he said? He flatly ignored what I told him and went on his misguided little crusade anyway!
Did he feel sorry for me for living with some horrible man who wouldn’t commit, and try to cheer me up by giving me the title he thinks I’m entitled to? Was he doing me the dubious honour of treating me like the respectable married woman I should be instead of the living-in-sin hussy I actually am? (He’s an Algerian Muslim, I kind of expect the worst).
Because, quite frankly, this what it sounded like to me: “I’ll inflict my idea of respect on you whether you like it or not!”
God only knows how the male mind works.
Irritatingly, I couldn’t ask him to explain his thought process there and then as there were people working all around us and we’re not really supposed to be chatting in the first place.
This guy is friendly enough but does come up with bizarre statements now and again*. I hope this is just a case of aiming for ‘considerate’ and missing by a country mile. I hope.
*The other day I was reading 1984 during my break. He turns up:
MC: Oooh, reading! You’re a studious one, aren’t you?
Me: Er… I read for pleasure…
MC: And in English too! French literature is better, don’t you think?
Me: Well, no. There’s lots of good stuff to be found in English literature too.
MC: Nah, French literature is better because the language is so much more beautiful. English… pah!
Me: I, er, like both… (I’m pretty speechless by this point)
MC: Definitely better. (walks away)