Spring is finally in the air here in Maine, which means flowers and grasses are blooming–and there’s a ton of tiny pollen grains floating around and triggering allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes and runny noses.
For those of us with age-related asshat allergy syndrome (AAAS), however, it doesn’t matter what season it is. We’re plagued by allergies year-round, triggered by asshats who roam the earth and disrupt our equilibrium with their boorish behavior.
I first wrote about this phenomenon in an earlier post in which I explained how AAAS develops. To recap, medical science posits that we start life resistant to certain irritants, but over time we’re exposed to so many that they start breaking down our immune system’s ability to tolerate them. This is why you can develop an allergy to grass pollen in your fifties when it never bothered you before.
This certainly explains why, as I’ve reached my sixties, I have no tolerance for certain behaviors (described in my earlier post) that I’d let slide when I was younger. Now, I experience a bunch of unpleasant physical and emotional reactions to these behaviors—a condition I’ve dubbed age-related asshat allergy syndrome.
What’s more, in recent months I’ve discovered even more things that trigger my AAAS symptoms. As a public service, I’m sharing these with you here—so if you’re experiencing similar reactions, at least you’ll know why—and that you’re not alone. Plus, in some cases I offer strategies for dealing with these irritants:
People who criticize their spouse/partner/children in front of others
Symptoms: This triggers a severe case of frosted ass, and a real itch to slap the offender. Since this behavior is usually a version of bullying, calling out the offender often shuts it down. Giving the criticized party a hug or other reassurance can make you both feel better.
Symptoms: Bile rising in back of throat, extreme eye-rolling and head-shaking, twitching, urge to slap the offender up side the head and shake some sense into him/her, vehement verbal outbursts such as “I can’t effing believe this sh*t” during the evening news.
There is an unusually high concentration of this AAAS trigger emanating from Washington, DC, lately (so don’t blame the cherry blossoms), resulting from behaviors like Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns—yet he criticized Mitt Romney for not doing so in 2012. Like candidate Trump saying hedge fund guys are “getting away with murder,” then as President appointing a hedge fund manager to U.S. Treasury Secretary. Like promising to “drain the swamp,” yet assembling a Cabinet with a higher net worth than one-third of Americans. I’d better stop…I’m starting to twitch. The solution? Join the resistance. Limit exposure to TV news. And Chardonnay sometimes help dull the psychic pain for a few hours.
People who interrupt
Symptoms: A surge of fury resulting in facial flushing and increased heart rate, irrepressible “talk to the hand” motions, urge to blurt, “Will you please let me finish?” In these situations, the symptoms are often the cure—which I’ve learned from living with someone who has a tendency to interrupt. Just sayin’.
Symptoms: When a man explains something to a woman in a manner considered patronizing or condescending, most women experience symptoms similar to those they have in response to being interrupted (see above). One of the best ways to ameliorate mansplaining is to say in a calm but puzzled voice, “Gee, do you really think I don’t know that?”
Air travelers who falsely claim their pets are emotional support animals
Symptoms: Intense irritation, head-shaking, profound disappointment, and a hankering to confront the offender about how their action may deprive someone with legitimate psychological or emotional issues from the comfort of traveling with their pet since space on the plane is limited.
I personally know two people who’ve abused the system because they didn’t want their large dogs to travel in cargo, nor did they want to pay the fee to fly with their pet. So instead they paid an online company to certify their dogs were emotional support animals. As the late comedian Kevin Meaney always said, “That’s not right.”
Symptoms: Surprise that I’m a target (I still don’t feel old enough), mild amusement when called “ma’am,” fury when stereotyped as being incapable of certain things or discriminated against because of my age, disgusted and offended by how popular culture all-too-often portrays older adults (e.g., doddering, senile, sexless).
I recently had an encounter with a twenty-something sales clerk who didn’t get my objection to his store’s “Over the Hill” merchandise, then went on to opine that people over 50 shouldn’t attend rock concerts, saying folks “that age” looked ridiculous up on their feet, dancing to the music. When I pointed out that musicians “that age” were still playing to sellout crowds—like the Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, et al who headlined last year’s Desert Trip in Coachella—the little twit he just kind of harrumphed and rolled his eyes. Time waits for no one, honey.
Symptoms: These asshats can trigger feelings of intense anger, defensiveness and even fear, because of the personal attacks and hatred they spew from their anonymous cyberspace perches. You may feel a compulsion to respond in kind, or even try to reason with them. Don’t bother; it only encourages them to spew more. Adopt the mantra, “Don’t feed the trolls” and ignore them. Grow a thicker skin, figuratively speaking. And if you must read their comments, at least allow yourself a frisson of smug pleasure while you silently correct their grammar and spelling, which usually are atrocious.
So what do you think? Do these behaviors set off AAAS symptoms in you, too? Got some triggers of your own you’d like to share? Please do! And while you’re thinking about it, here’s this week’s haiku:
We can acquire new
allergies as we age; I
itch to slap some folks.