This past week, my husband and I went on vacation to Ocean City, MD. After going here last year, my mother-in-law decided that we should all go to the beach together this year. The wisdom to this isn’t what I’m here to talk about.
One thing she loves to do, is go out early in the morning and feed the seagulls. The black faced sea gulls (laughing gulls) are the most common around the boardwalk, with a few larger gulls mixed in. These larger gulls (herring gulls and great black-backed gulls) she refers to as albatrosses.
She called them that last year, and I had to look it up because I knew it wasn’t right. A quick search revealed that albatrosses live in the southern hemisphere and the north Pacific. There was a mention that a rare albatross sighting in Ocean City had been recorded, but this isn’t their place of habitation. And last year, I had thought that was that.
…Until she called the herring and great black-backed gulls albatrosses again.
We got back into the conversation of these aren’t albatrosses. Their wingspan is how long the body of an albatross is, and albatross has a nine to eleven foot wingspan. Nothing at all like these gulls. Her reply is what has really stuck with me.
“Well, I’ve always called them albatrosses, and for such a small thing in my life I’m not going to change that at this age.”
While calling a gull an albatross really is a small thing, it’s that attitude that I have such a huge problem. Thankfully she doesn’t do that with other things in life, but there are so many others of her generation that use that same reasoning excuse for social progression.
I’ve heard those excuses for refusal to acknowledge the existence of gay people, transgender individuals, non-bianary. Refusal to use the right gender identifiers or names. “I’m too old to change how I think.” “They’re doing it for the attention.” “Why are there so many labels?” “I can’t learn all these new words.”
I’ve even heard that in regards to religion when speaking of atheism. “They’re just being rebellious.” “They actually believe in God. They’re just mad at him.”
I don’t know how to change the problem of the willful ignorance. I don’t know how to get someone to change how they act when they know they’re wrong but are choosing to maintain the way they’ve been acting for years. I can call attention to it, but I can’t change it.
Hell, I can’t even get my mother-in-law to stop calling seagulls albatrosses.