She’s Disgusting, I’m Disgusted

“She’s disgusting,” said my girlfriend, as she talked about her ex-boyfriend’s wife.  “Don’t you think she’s disgusting?” she asked.  “Ummm . . . ” was all I could say.   I was at a loss.  I understand my friend’s feelings of jealousy over the ex who chose someone else (ten years ago and my friend is happily married to another).  I’m not a saint and I do engage in gossip now and then, but I’ve been trying really hard to stop doing that.  My biggest challenge comes when, as in this case, I’m playing catch-up with a girlfriend who lives out of town and with whom I haven’t talked to for a year.   She was calling someone disgusting and I wanted to support her because girlfriends should support one another, right?  But  I knew this alleged “disgusting” person.  I had nothing against her and, in fact, I didn’t know one thing disgusting about her.  But what harm would there be in validating my girlfriend’s insecurities by agreeing with her?

It’s all that negative energy out there.  I don’t want to be a part of it.  I have so much negative energy floating around me because my husband’s family has ousted us that I just can’t go there at all.   The upshot of it all was that I didn’t agree with her and clearly, she was disappointed in me.  I was particularly unyielding to her persuasion in this case.  There was something in particular about that phrase, “she’s disgusting” that got under my skin.  While I was in the shower just a few days later, it hit me — Donald Trump.

I’ve been watching Celebrity Apprentice and during a recent episode, Cyndi Lauper brought up the name of Rosie O’Donnell.  Trump and O’Donnell had a well-publicized tiff a while ago.  On Apprentice, Trump’s reaction to the mere mention of her name elicited this harsh response:  “She’s disgusting.” Trump said this to Lauper, even after knowing she was  O’Donnell’s dear friend.  My response?  Money and power does not guarantee class.  Indeed, Trump has no class.  On national television, he tells O’Donnell’s friend that O’Donnell is disgusting.  What happened to, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”?  I’m constantly telling that to my children.  Shouldn’t we, as adults be practicing it ourselves?  When someone acts out on national television, I always assume that their bad behavior must be ten times worse in private.  After all, they know they are on camera.  I’d hate to see how Trump behaves when the cameras are off!  I was so disgusted by Trump’s performance (note:  I am not calling Trump disgusting, I am calling his actions disgusting, there is a BIG difference here), that when I heard the same words coming out of a friend’s mouth it felt very, very wrong.

What should we do when  a friend is behaving badly in this way?  Should we call her out on it? Stay silent? Go along for the sake of getting along?  I still remember something that happened to me fifteen years ago when I was in my twenties.  My roommate was driving me crazy and I had just found our her checks were bouncing to our landlord.  As I was venting my frustration by bad-mouthing my roommate to my girlfriends, one of them put me in my place.  She called me out on my poor behavior.  She said, “[your roommate] is also my friend and you shouldn’t be telling us all of this.”  Immediately, I knew she was right.  Even though everything I was saying was true, I had no business talking about another person that way.  It was disrespectful and beneath me.  I’m not going to say that I have been a perfect person since then, but I learned a valuable lesson that day and it was one I hope to never forget, especially if I’m ever on television.

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