When 2 plus 2 doesn’t equal 4

Let me tell you a little story about me and champagne…

When I fell pregnant with my daughter, I was working at an advertising agency in London. No thought was seriously given in those days to not drinking in pregnancy, but restricting my drinking to a glass meant it was always insisted I had the good stuff – and so I would have a glass of champagne. It was house champagne so not your ridiculous amounts of money, but still, I guess it could be considered fancy.

When I stopped working in the final month, my mother suggested I join in her mid-afternoon indulgence for biscuits (cookies for readers across the pond) with a cup of tea. She waved a packet of Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers in my direction… and I was hooked. For the remainder of that month, I ate chocolate fingers everyday with my cup of tea, and I don’t normally much care for chocolate.

Fast forward some years to my daughter going to school. I was chatting to other mothers in the playground when I heard her tell friends “all my Mummy ate when she was expecting me was champagne and chocolate fingers!” Cue a stirring amongst the gathered mothers in the playground, when I suspect some drew their children away, while others – only a few mind you – drew closer to me and introduced themselves. They’d listened to my daughter’s line and heard humour overlaying a little pregnancy indulgence, rather than an alcoholic chocoholic. For I’d a cupboard full of alcohol to offer visitors, but rarely drank (having an alcoholic in the family can do that to you). I (still) enjoy chocolate more after giving up smoking, but rarely touch it.

The other day Himself and I were furniture shopping. It was indoors at a time when it was still mandatory to wear masks. But one person was not and he stood out a mile. Not solely because of his unmasked face, but because he was wearing a rather colourful rugby shirt – that of my rugby club, Harlequins. Himself passed comment on this fact. I nodded, but did not reply. Himself continued to tease me on this subject, until I reminded him that, although I love my rugby club and treasure the years as an active supporter spending time with and getting to know my fellow fans, I know that Harlequins supporter does not always equal good guy. How? Because I came within an inch of being punched in the face by a fellow supporter many years ago when I rebuked his loud use of the c word during a match.

Himself and his best friend are both fans of rock – heavy metal in particular. Personally, I’ve a preference for RnB, for Soul, for Motown, for Folk, for Jazz – and have always been exceptionally sniffy about rock, the heavy loud stuff in particular. I’d always considered it to be repetitive and decidedly mindless, which the propensity for head-banging by the audience seemed to support. Yet, two of the best minds I’ve ever known have been lifelong fans. I still don’t like it, but these days I don’t consider it the purview of the mindless.

Our brains have a mighty task having to process the massive amount of information they receive every single second and so end up making some sweeping assumptions in order to sort it all. That’s how stereotyping happens, which is why it’s up to us to make a conscious effort to keep an open mind, so that we can question those sweeping assumptions our brains are busy making.

Have you spotted yourself re-thinking any assumptions? Have any tales of incorrect assumptions other people have made about you?

© Debra Carey, 2022

18 thoughts on “When 2 plus 2 doesn’t equal 4

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  1. Oh, I am sure most people assumed I was Trump supporter–until COVID. I’m white, middle-aged, and tend to dress conservatively. I got more than a few looks at various BLM/ Anti-Muslim ban protests.

    But then the pandemic hit, and I always wear a mask (properly over my nose and chin). I’m still wearing one, even now that the mandates are being lifted. It’s a pretty easy way to tell one’s political party in the United States.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sadly, Autumn’s observation about mask-wearing in the U.S. is completely accurate. Two years later and all we’ve managed to do is politicize safety measures.

    I got a good belly laugh from your “alcoholic chocoholic” usage. Like you, I’ve never been much of a chocolate lover. But many years ago when I first moved to California and started visiting wine country vineyards, someone turned me on to red wine (specifically cabernet) and dark chocolate. To this day that’s still a huge favorite. It absolutely kills the appetite, so I’m not allowed to have it before dinner. But it makes a great pre-dessert dessert. 🙂

    Your end question is one I can answer from a recent experience. Not so much an assumption, but I certainly made a judgement about someone that was wrong. I was waiting to get a haircut and hoping to get this young man who had cut it on an earlier visit. The other haircutter was an older woman who was dressed like Stevie Nicks — black jewelry, black eye-liner, black blouse, black dress flowing down to the floor. I took one look at her and thought “nuh-uh, no way.” Well, I ended up with her and she was great — a wonderful conversationalist and gave a great haircut. I admonished myself on the way home. 🙂 – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m always rethinking assumptions both about the world and myself…recently about positivity, negativity and pragmatism…but I’m still mulling

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, that sounds familiar Autumn 🙂

    Mask wearing isn’t quite as party political over here as it in over there. Certainly those on the right-wing tend to be in the “how dare they muzzle us” category, but there’s loads of others on all sides of the spectrum who’ve happily discarded it, even if they did wear them when mandated. All that means is I’ve upped the filtration level on my chosen masks to as high as possible.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Marty, lovely to see you back in blogging world 🙂 I shall be visiting you shortly.

    Red win + dark chocolate is wonderful thing indeed. I laughed at your “it kills the appetite” comment, as I once told my mother to buy only the best chocolate and in miniature bars so she’d not be able to eat more than a couple. She then rang to tell me it was my fault she felt sick – turns out she’d eaten the whole box of miniature bars before any full signal hit 😀

    Nicely done on the self-admonishment 🙂 I understand your reticence about hair cuts though. I know everyone says “it’ll grow” but while you wait, it’s hell I tell you, absolute hell!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s one of my subjects too LA. You can go too far with anything and I think things like “The Secret” did that with positivity, and we’ve all seen the rise of toxic positivity. I get that allowing the negativity to take over isn’t wise, but neither is pretending that the load you’re carrying isn’t a heavy one, when it is. I’m a believer in balance and so am a big fan of pragmatism having it’s place. I wrote something on the subject elsewhere. I may dig it out & post it (or some version of it on here).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I took a day to think about this as you’ve raised so many interesting and insightful points. And you did it without invoking the really big biases like race and sexual identity. Although, I hear that favored rugby teams can be pretty much on a par with that kind of thing.

    I believe we all have biases. We learn them from an early age from home and school and television. We learn them from where we live, what kinds of people live around us, who we interact with away from home, who are friends of our family that come into our homes, – basically we learn bias with every interaction we have. And as small children, we absorb them, even the ridiculous, because we don’t have the life experience to process them.

    As we grow up, it’s our job to sort through these bias and discard the ones that don’t work for us. It’s our job to meet different people and learn about different ideas from the ones we grew up with and learn that it’s okay and even interesting to know and enjoy people who think differently from us. And it’s our job to be honest with ourselves, to notice when we’re having an automatic reaction to a person or situation that is based on bias we learned when we were children. I think it’s also our job to overcome those biases, to acknowledge them and work to change ourselves and maybe even our corner of the world. Because without that change, the cycle of violence and intolerance and hate continues, for no good reason.

    And again, I think out loud too much and probably get on too big of a soap box on someone else’s blog. As far as your question goes, I’ve found repeatedly that I assume that anyone I like probably thinks the same as I do about the big questions of life. Turns out that isn’t true. I learn that lesson over and over again. And when it happens, I generally go through a period of trying to figure out whether I can still like someone who thinks differently and almost always, it turns out I can. Once in a while the chasm is too far apart on something that really matters to me but I can still, usually, respect that person’s right to think differently while hating the opinion. It’s when those differences become laws that I want to move to another planet where things are different.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Assumptions, huh? Well over these last two years many assumptions I had about my *good* friends and family have fallen by the wayside. If staying healthy by getting vaccinations and wearing a mask is too much of a burden for them, then perhaps I shall no longer assume they are my friends– and keep family at a distance. I always go back to The Four Agreements: make no assumptions. Sound advice in the overall.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Zazzy, I’m delighted you were moved to get on a soap box by my post and the subject it raises. Unconscious bias is such a huge subject and one that’s only really now coming into mainstream awareness. Or maybe it’s only the term that’s coming more into mainstream awareness, rather than the concept itself being fully accepted.

    I’ve had such a weird upbringing but am still constantly challenged by new ideas and new aspects of life. I’ll admit I’m spending a considerable amount of time and emotional energy in understanding the area of gender identity, and trans issues in particular. I’m being educated on the subject through things I read and hear, but really want to spend time talking to a friend whose son is transitioning. I’ve always respected her take on the world and I suspect she’ll have much which will be both informative and enlightening. I hope I never get to the point where the world will make me grow, although the negative stuff is hard to handle. I’d like to think I will apply the same attitude as you do to those who hold different opinions, but it has become more difficult of late, so I’ll never say never.

    Oh and that you for making me actually LOL with your comment about rugby teams 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ally, yes, the world has certainly thrown more challenges in our direction of late than any one of us could have anticipated. Over here, Covid followed hard on the heals of the whole Brexit drama and it’s been wearying having to deal with it (I guess as you had with the tRump drama). Although, like zazzy, I do try to separate the person from the opinion, some of the opinions held of late have been far too challenging for that to be achievable. I am saddened by that knowledge, but there you are.

    I agree with you on The Four Agreements – sound advice indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I like your closing paragraph. You have sympathy for our brains having to sort everything out and then warn us that that’s why we have to try harder to keep an open mind. For 20 years we lived abroad in an international community that might have tempted us to stereotype people by nationality. But I think it had the opposite effect. We had time to see everyone’s individuality.

    Back home in the US, I find myself more tempted to stereotype people. Ever since Trump was elected, we all know the little hints that tell us who is a Democrat and who is a Republican. Party affiliation didn’t matter before. Now it does, which is unfortunate.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. And thank you for being okay with my very long comment.

    Like you, I find myself challenged by some new ideas. I thought I had a handle on the trans issue years ago. It was easy to say to a client that it was still her child and I thought she’d regret pushing him away. Plus I believe that people are people and all of them have certain rights including the right to be who they are. But then the trans athlete issue came up and I confess I have mixed feelings. I am not sure there is a right answer, at least not one blanket answer that covers all situations. But that isn’t consistent with my view of what is right so I’m pretty confused right now.

    Everyone has added to this conversation and that is something I really admire. No one shouting, just observations about things that challenge us and how some of them, like the split in our political parties, are so frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you Nicki. Yes, the experience we share of life lived overseas does help in learning to have an open mind. I’ve been living in the UK longer than overseas now, and I’ve noticed similar here too.

    I learned about the statistics of how much information the brain has to deal with while doing my NLP training and it is quite staggering.


  14. Zazzy, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this discussion. I’m very fortunate in having a lovely group of people visiting me and commenting here. Thank you so much for being one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Its a real discipline to hold back and keep an open mind as we all have an instinct to assume, naturally. Another blogger once commented that I had ‘good english’. Hmmmmm – well why wouldn’t I? 🙃 It’s the only language I speak!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Cheryl, nooooo – what a thing to say. Even if it was meant as a compliment (although, like you, I’m struggling with that). I’m glad I wasn’t put in the position of having to find a suitable response to such a comment.


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