I have been thinking a lot about class lately. My thirtieth birthday is right around the corner and I have really been trying to hone my style. I’ve always been horrified by my mother’s butterfly bedazzled bell bottoms and the ever presence of “big gulps, tractors, and pink camo” in my sordid memory bank. But what makes someone classy? The internet has nearly convinced me that the whole of classiness is kept in the human cuticles and if they aren’t on point, I should just hang myself with a length of the Confederate flag while standing on a crate of Pabst.
Not one to believe everything the internet tells me, I thought about real life. Who was the classiest person I know?
For me, that person is my dear friend Betty. Betty is a landscaper and ironically has the most mangled cuticles I have ever seen. When she comes by my place, covered in dirt, cursing up a storm, she brings with her an armload of dahlia bulbs or a length of hose for my yard. She clasps my face with both of her hands and tells me how beautiful I look that day. She tells me that my orchid is too dark green and will be happier in a sunny spot. She exudes a level of class that I strive for. Intelligence, warmth, openness. She is just so damn classy.
So put away your wallets and, cuticles be damned, today we are talking about the dos and don’ts of how to be all classy and shit.
1. Mysterious Facebook posting
Vaguebooking is when you post something to FB along the lines of, “Wow. Just wow. I am so over all of this drama, you know who you are.”
I get it, we all need to vent, but the problem with vaguebooking is it invites 500 of your nearest and dearest to think of every bad experience you have ever had together. I’m no Wiccan, but that is some serious bad thought juju headed your way.
When you say you are annoyed with some mysterious person, you force people to ask if it is about them. What could they be mad about? Was it something you did? Could it be that time that you went over to their house and accidentally let their dog out and it took hours to find him and now they are communicating their anger via the whole internet three years later, even though you ALREADY APOLOGIZED? FUCK YOU SUSAN, TRAIN YOUR DOG!
Instead of enforcing needless negative associations with your relationships call the person you have a beef with and tell them that they hurt you.
2. Assuming you know people’s experiences better than them
Taking someone’s experiences at face value has been one of the most difficult things for me. I was raised in a house where Restless Leg Syndrome was a liberal conspiracy, homosexuals just hadn’t found the right woman (there was no such thing as gay women), and grandma was hooked up to a breathing machine because she was a drama queen and just wanted the attention.
We can become so uncomfortable living in a world where people’s experiences genuinely differ from ours, that we choose to disqualify those experiences entirely. “You’re not depressed, you just need to pray/lose five pounds/get a boyfriend, bathe in the blood of a buxom virgin, etc.”
The list of things I thought simply didn’t exist because I hadn’t personally experienced them was a long and embarrassing one. Nowadays, if someone tells me that they were taken aboard a spaceship and experimented on, I just assume that they know their experiences better than I do and then avoid cornfields for the rest of my life.
Everyone has something to offer thanks to their unique experiences. Going into a situation willing to grow and learn is just about the classiest thing you can do.
3. A freezer meal is always appropriate
When it comes to supporting people through everything from victories to tragedies, one of the classiest things you can do is bring a freezer meal.
Friend had a baby? Freezer meal. Colleague got in a car accident? Freezer meal. Grandmother died? So. Many. Freezer. Meals.
The freezer meal is so loving because it doesn’t force someone to “eat now.” It doesn’t say, “Eat this and tell me how great I am” but instead anticipates their future needs. It also puts a little control back into a person’s life and doesn’t put any pressure on them to entertain you. It is not for sharing. It’s for them. Learn a few meals that freeze beautifully and you’re on your way to classy on ice.
4. A classy lady says nothing
There are so many situations that leave us short of words. Funerals come to mind for me. I used to become so absorbed in saying the perfect thing to the bereaved that I made the whole experience about me and my problem of not knowing what to say. By truly being present in the moments of awkwardness or grief or pain and not worrying about what I am going to say, I know when is the right time to hold someone, to give them their space, to offer a tissue, and to say nothing at all.
5. A classy woman volunteers
Taking action in your community is the gold standard when it comes to being a classy broad. I think many of us find our volunteer options seriously limited and if we don’t feel like clocking a few hours at the retirement village we’re outta luck. So. Not. True.
I have found that anything that bugs you about your community can be addressed. An example. In my city, there is the Millennial Fountain. It’s beautiful and so god damn dirty that everytime I drive by it I call it “shit fountain.” I mean, it is dirty. DIRTY!
Last week I called the parks department in a Monica Gellar-style craze and told them I was going to go out with a bucket and clean it and there was nothing they could do to stop me.
“Do it,” they said. “You can solicit volunteers and donations and we can call the local news to get the word out.” Bam.
A classy woman is a woman of action, who helps where she can and makes the world a more beautiful place. I really invite you to look around your town or neighborhood and challenge yourself to find something that you can improve, you might be surprised at how much power you have.
What is your definition of class? Who is the classiest person you know? Share your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to check out March’s Awesome female bloggers!