Years ago, I went on a few dates with a guy from Kankakee, IL.
That’s all he talked about.
- “Back in Kankakee …”
- “My friends in Kankakee …”
- “That’s not how we do things in Kankakee …”
(Jesus, dude, okay.)
I didn’t like this guy very much, but I didn’t have much else going on with my life. And dating Kankakee was easy. I went to dinner at all my favorite places in Chicago like Melting Pot, Kampai and Walker Brothers Pancake House. Then I went home and had explosive diarrhea. It was a nice routine.
But after a few weeks of listening to stories about being from downstate Illinois, I couldn’t take it anymore. I said, “You know, I don’t think this is going to work out for either of us.”
He said, “I was thinking the same thing.”
(Yeah, okay. They all say that.)
After we had ended things, we made small talk for a little while longer. I wished him well and said, “Now you can finally find a girl from Kankakee.”
And that’s when he lit into me like a firecracker on the Fourth of July.
“You’re a passive-aggressive snob. Not everything is an episode of Moonlighting. You don’t have to have a snappy comeback to end the conversation.”
Whoa, what? MOTHERFUCKER. Nobody talks to me like that.
I said, “I’ve never even seen an episode of Moonlighting.”
(Gah! I’ve never been one for comebacks.)
Looking back, Kankakee didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know about myself. I have to have the last word. I can’t end the conversation normally. I always want to say something funny, which is very needy and unfunny.
I know this about myself, and I’ve been working on this for my entire life. My family has given me this feedback for years, too, but I never listen. For some reason, though, Kankakee’s comment hit me in the face. It was hard to let it go, which is such a waste of time.
It is weird how most of us don’t value feedback from people we love. I think it’s because we know the people who love us are flawed. And the feedback we offer to our loved ones is tainted by our mistakes that are thrown back in our faces. (Or is that just my family?)
But when a stranger offers an uninformed opinion that taps into our insecurities and seems a little true, we freak the hell out.
So I wanted to share a new way of dealing with feedback from friends, colleagues, family members and strangers. Whenever someone offers unsolicited advice or gives feedback, I ask, “Who the hell asked you?”
If I didn’t ask you, I don’t want your opinion.
Now that I’ve told you my new response, I can’t wait for someone to throw this back at me. I am ready with my Moonlighting-esque response!