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Can, should 2 different things

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

‘Just because she can doesn’t mean she should.”

They floated past my ear in a whisper, those eight little words coming from somewhere behind me. I peeked around from where I stood in the library and my eyes settled on two older women sitting not far away. One wore a blue scarf tied loosely around her neck, her more salt than pepper hair pulled back. She thumbed through a Ladies Home Journal. The other fidgeted through a small gray hand bag settled on her lap. She pulled out a tube of Chapstick and carefully smoothed it across her lips before leaning in to her friend, placing her hand on top of her magazine as if to get her full attention.

“A woman wearing something that disturbing should be against the law,” she whispered, this time a little louder, and they nodded and one of them made one of those ‘it’s a shame’ clicking sounds and then the one with the scarf pointed to something in her Ladies Home Journal and they started talking about pound cake.

I fought the urge to laugh at these two little ladies sitting in the library on a hot, summer afternoon, enjoying each other’s company, sharing recipes, a little gossip. I wondered who they are talking about as I turned back to the shelf of books in front of me. And then it hit me.

What if they were talking about me?

Okay, so I’m not one to automatically think anyone talking about someone is talking about me ... I’m not that full of myself ... but, then again I’m not exactly a fashion horse, either ...

I looked down at what I was wearing. Black pants. Blue shirt. Nothing sticking out where it didn’t belong. Disturbing? No. Practically boring. Yes. Whew. Still, little whisper resonated in my brain — just because she can doesn’t mean she should. I didn’t know who these two little ladies were talking about, but I sure have seen my share of people who could use that piece of advice. Practically every day.

Take the woman at the grocery store yesterday wearing shorts so short that her badonkadonk hung out the bottom, for example. Do you understand? The bottom half of said behind was out there completely. Neither myself nor the five other people in the meat section at the time needed to see that. True, I didn’t have to look and, trust me, I did not want to but let’s just say in the nicest way possible that it was, hmmmm, unavoidable to miss. I’m sure the folks in Fruits and Vegetables would agree.

Sporting bare butt in the grocery store — just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

It’s endless, really, the list of things this particular saying can apply to. I don’t know how many times in my lifetime I’ve asked someone why they do something and they answer, “Because I can.” Sometimes, it’s admirable. Other times, it’s just plain stupid.

Just because you can put on Facebook every last detail of your day, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can smoke cigarettes in a car with the windows rolled up and two little children strapped in car seats in the back seat, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can wear your 15-year-old daughter’s jeans — barely — doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can open your mouth and say something hurtful to someone, doesn’t mean you should.

And, yes, I get the irony. Just because I can write a column sometimes about what bugs me about other people doesn’t mean I should. And this time I hope the people who choose to let their rear ends hang out when they’re shopping for hamburger meat actually get the message. It’s not pretty girls ... and guys. (Insert ‘it’s a shame’ clicking sound) It just ain’t pretty.

I’m sure the folks in Fruits and Vegetables would agree.

Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.