When you shouldn’t ask
We adopted a new cat a couple of months ago – a beautiful three-legged Maine Coon named Max. A couple of days ago, I picked him up to cuddle, and he decided he wasn’t in the mood for kisses. He put his paw up to push me away and ended up scratching my face. Unfortunately, he caught me right below my eye and I now have a nasty scratch and a black eye. Because of the delicate nature of the eye, it bruised more than a scratch elsewhere would. Consequently, I look pretty beat up.
I have a client meeting and a class next week, so I imagine it will illicit curious stares, questions and concern.
So, just what is the proper etiquette when you see someone who has an injury of some sort? Do you ask about it? Do you ignore it? What is a concerned and, most likely, curious person to do?
Having been guilty, when I was young, of asking “what happened to ____” (fill in the blank) and hearing very embarrassing stories, I quickly learned it’s not appropriate to ask the question of someone you don’t know well. For example, in my 20s, I asked an acquaintance how he broke his arm and turned beat red when he said, in so many words, that he broke it during an intimate encounter. Oy!
If the person is a friend, then go ahead and express your concern. Best not to ask “what happened”, instead say something like, “wow, that’s a big cast, are you OK?” If the person is evasive or changes the subject don’t push. Maybe it’s something your friend is embarrassed about, or she is uncomfortable sharing medical information.
When it comes to injuries, I know a black eye on a woman can be tricky because it can look like it’s from domestic abuse. First of all, accidents happen. I have two friends who have sustained injuries to their face from accidents. One from crashing on her bike, the other from being hit by a softball. So don’t assume the worst. That said, if a friend regularly has facial or other bruises and strange explanations or seems really uncomfortable discussing what happened, it would be best to consult a domestic abuse organization to get advice on what to do.
If you are the person with the injury, it is not necessary to tell people what happened unless you feel comfortable doing so. As I am thinking about my upcoming client and class I probably won’t say anything about my eye unless I notice someone staring at me or he or she comes out and asks me about it. I’ll probably make a joke like, “I lost a wrestling match with the cat”. Humor is always a good approach.
As for Max, well, he’s a sweet boy who probably didn’t mean to cause me so much harm. But, I’m keeping my face away from his claws, which is probably a good idea with any cat.
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