If You’re Not Part of the Solution, You’re Part of the Precipitate


I ripped that off one of my all-time fave ThinkGeek T-shirts, but I’m not talking about “precipitate” in the chemistry sense, nor in the causal sense (though if someone hexed you and gave you UC, that would apply). I’m talking about the adjective form of the word—“done, made or acting suddenly without careful consideration.” (Thanks Google). You might already know what I’m referencing – likely the worst thing anyone can say to you as you’re enduring whatever party favors from Hell your UC grab bag has been gifted with. The inevitable, “But you look fine!” comment. Supplant that with its many variations: “Well you don’t look sick/You seem to be doing well/You can’t even tell anything’s wrong.”

The people saying these things are probably trying to be helpful or encouraging. In fact, they are. They’re trying to cheer you up. What they don’t realize is, they’re seconds from swallowing their teeth (no, sorry—that was the ‘roids, let me try again). What they don’t realize is, that’s the last thing you want to hear. Those words make you want to hold their head over the toilet bowl while demanding, “Does that look fine to you?!”

Looking well and being well are two completely different things. First, it’s all relative. You might look “good” to a coworker, but your family and close friends would instantly disagree, because they know you better and see you more. Also, some people just don’t look sick. (Evolutionary this is an advantage, why wouldn’t it persist today)? Others–especially us chicks–use a wonderful little cosmetic tool called makeup. (Gasp!) Truly amazing what concealer, blush and a little luminous eye shadow can do for your splotchy, sallow-ass self. Every morning before work I managed to drag myself from the cusp of death-warmed-over and then received dirty looks on the train when I collapsed into the only open seat. Something to be said for looking as bad as you feel, I suppose.

So how do you convey to someone who thinks you look “good” (thereby correlating that into “i.e., you are not that sick”) just how egregiously wrong they are? Well, you’ve got a few options. Distancing always helps; they’ll think twice before approaching you with such a precipitous comment again (probably approaching you ever again, so consider carefully). I generally remark that things have gotten so bad that now when I scoop up my dogs’ perfect little sidewalk poops, I’m jealous. Two, the best offensive is a good defensive. Look them square in the eye and demand, “What the hell are you trying to say?” Or last, clue them in that health is just a bit more than skin deep–ask if you can borrow their diagnostic x-ray vision.