OPINION: Inspired by a friend, my new year resolution is to make a scene in 2018

By Sherlin Barends Time of article published Jan 10, 2018

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It’s a new year and with it comes resolutions. Perhaps you’ve set out to get fit and healthy, save more and spend less money, or quit that filthy habit of yours. I aim to be a lot lighter by the end of 2018.

Not Khloé Kardashian “Revenge Body” lighter, and not Khanyi Mbau lighter either. I aim to be lighter in a different way. I want to be Jean Julies lighter, and I don’t want to wait until I’m in my seventies.

At 74, Julies (affectionately called JJ) is by far my oldest friend. However, with her buzz cut, banging body and bubbly personality, she can easily pass for a woman in her fifties. You seldom have to ask JJ what’s on her mind. If she has something to say, she will say it. “Are you on the pill?” she once asked bluntly, after I told her about an upcoming third date. If you say or do something that she doesn’t like, best believe she will tell you. “Ek maak nie van my hart ‘* moordkuil nie. I say it like it is, life’s too short not to.”

Besides good genes, perhaps speaking her mind and effortlessly letting go of what no longer serves her is what keeps JJ so youthful and light.

I’m not like JJ. I’m not light. I’ve been known to hold on to people and things that no longer have a purpose. Like the sexy size 6 "LBD" (little black dress) in my cupboard that hasn’t fitted in years, or the friend who only calls when they need something, or the countless conversations I’ve been meaning to have but putting off until “tomorrow” or “Monday”.

I talk for a living. I get paid to talk. I use words to pay my rent and buy new dresses that fit. Talking is easy. Yet talking to resolve conflict is a completely different story. Phrases like “turn the other cheek“ and “don’t make a scene” are neatly woven on to various memories of my childhood.

So, when my family and I received poor service at a restaurant in Mossel Bay earlier this week, my mother gave me a look that said: “Don’t you dare make a scene.” Instead, we turned the figurative cheek and went to another one.

On the drive home I spoke my mind. No, I ranted. Why didn’t we ask to speak to the manager? Why didn’t we demand an apology? Why didn’t one of us use social media to vent our frustration? Too little, too late.

My cousin sent me a text that evening: “This is SO you!” The message was shortly followed by a meme, someone pictured restlessly lying down, captioned: “Me currently laying in bed thinking about what I should have said in an argument I had in 2001”.

Then it hit me. This meme is so me. I am a clinger. I hold on to people and things and arguments. But it’s time to choose: carry the weight of words unspoken or free yourself by using your voice. I choose to make a scene. If making a scene means standing up for yourself. (Spare me the side eye, Mommy.)

Sue Duminy has referred to one of my previous columns as “racist”. She also labelled me as a homophobe when she talked about me in the comment section of one of her Instagram posts: “And obviously she will not approve of gay marriages either.”

Dearest Sue, with an Instagram following of more than 50k followers, you’re an influencer. Yet your public statements about me are baseless and hurtful. You’re entitled to dislike and disagree with my columns. But you don’t get to tell me what I think and what I believe. If you are unsure or interested, ask me. Don’t draw your own unfounded conclusions.

Then doubt whispers: “Don’t make a scene”. But JJ’s voice is louder: “It’s okay if you don’t like me, coz no one loves me the way I do, so there you go!”

And just like that I already feel lighter.

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