Last Friday I snapped at a teenager. Not even my own teenager. It was some other teenager with whom I'm barely acquainted. I think I've spoken to that particular teenager on maybe three separate occasions prior to when I snapped at him. Oh such a proud moment it was for me. Yeesh.
The entire interaction started out wrong. He began talking about The Boy. My Boy. And how much he disliked him. Despite the fact that they have never met face to face. He knows of The Boy through mutual friends, but that's about it. He thought nothing of sharing with me his unfounded intense dislike of my son. Interesting choice, but hey, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
I didn't snap at him about that. Although no parent likes to hear their child disparaged. Even if their child has earned it, it can be hard to stomach. And The Boy hasn't earned it. That teenager's willingness, perhaps eagerness even, to share unsolicited such dislike merely made me question his maturity.
This particular teenager is a southern baptist. He displays religious icons around his neck and on other parts of his apparel. The conversation shifted to those icons, with him stating he wears them so others will ask about them thereby giving him the opportunity to witness his faith. Okay great. Religion can provide a wonderful structure for people, old and young alike. I respect that. I didn't even put him on the spot by asking how his hateful feelings toward The Boy meshed with his faith.
He continued by expressing curiosity about The Boy's faith. He gave me a sly glance as he said that and I began to question his motivation. I raised an eyebrow, wondering silently again about his odd fascination with my son, and told him he would need to talk to The Boy about that. He then attempted to shift the conversation to MY faith.
And that's when I snapped at him.
To me, religious beliefs are quite personal. About on par with asking me how much I weigh or when the last time I had an orgasm was. It's just not something I share casually with strangers. Heck, I rarely discuss my beliefs with friends or family.
I could have calmly explained that to him while declining to answer his questions. Instead, fueled by his dislike of The Boy and my own irritation at his lack of respect for personal boundaries, I peevishly told him to mind his own business.
I'll admit my sexuality contributes additional reluctance to discuss religion in general with people I don't know well. My being gay adds another potentially volatile element to conversations about faith. Such a discussion with a smug, opinionated teenager who enjoys proselytizing and has previously demonstrated a lack of insight, sensitivity and maturity is not high on my list of things to do.
Part of me wants to apologize to him for the abrupt termination of the conversation and perhaps even to explain to him why I found his question offensive. But that would merely open the topic again and I won't do that. Teaching that teenager manners and boundaries is a job better suited for his parents. Perhaps I'm the only one who feels that part of his education is lacking.
While I didn't do it and am glad I didn't do it, I could almost see myself standing up, saluting that teenager with my middle finger while saying "Witness this, asshat!" Which is how this post got it's title.
Oh yeah, I'm the model of maturity.