An Imprudent Query

Today’s Daily Prompt:

What question do you hate to be asked? Why?

That’s an easy one.

What’s wrong?

Oh, the pressure! The agony! The despair!

I absolutely loathe to be asked what’s wrong; if something actually does happen to be wrong, it’s a surefire road to tears. If all is well, however, you may have just earned yourself a smart comment for your troubles.

I hate this question. Hate it. It’s a lose-lose.

When something is wrong, if I’m able to talk about it with you, I will. If I’m not, chances are it’s because I’m literally physically incapable of doing so. Yes, literally. By asking me what’s wrong, you’ve brought all of my emotions to the surface, where my words strangle on them. If I’m lucky, I can stare awkwardly at you, in silence, for minutes on end, holding back the flood of tears. I know that if I make the attempt to speak, I won’t succeed; I’ll sob like an eight-year-old who wakes to discover her bike was stolen while she slept peacefully in her bed.

If you’ve ever wondered about the validity of idioms like choked up or speechless, let me assure you that they are, in fact, inexhaustibly demonstrable. They unquestionably define me during the moments following a nice round of what’s wrong.

But it isn’t solely the original problem that’s distressed me so much. You’ve made a request of me, a request that I am unable to honor. I’m letting you down by not answering, and I’m letting myself down by letting you down. The troubles multiply exponentially.

If I am visibly upset, please, by all that’s holy, don’t ask that dreaded question. It will only make things harder on both of us. I will be more upset by the wrongness that is, and you will be mortified to have caused the nervous breakdown that inevitably occurs immediately afterward. At least, I would hope so. If you don’t care about the answer, then you shouldn’t have asked in the first place.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may ask me what’s wrong when I am perfectly fine. In this case, I will begin by giving you that look. You know the one. The one that lets you know quite hastily that you are a complete and total idiot. If you fail to comprehend the look, you may be in for a treat. No; the people of average intelligence surrounding you are in a for a treat. I have been told more than once that it is entertainment at its finest to witness my skills at explaining to the imbecilic precisely how moronic they really are, without ever using words they can understand.

Oh, my. I have just revealed my fatal flaw. I cannot abide willful stupidity.

If you get the look and are immediately contrite, the issue may drop. If you insist on pursuing this avenue, I may bombard you with stereotypical feminist propaganda: Why must I wear makeup every day? Why must I smile every second? Why must I answer to you about any of this at all? My voice will be dripping with venom, and if I don’t like you, my sneer may drive you to tears of your own.

I’d love to boast that I’m not proud of these moments, but honesty prompts me to provide a caveat: I’m mostly not proud of these moments, but I can be a horribly small, petty person.

As can we all.