The other day I was trying to explain to my second grade girls what it means to have good taste, when the phrase cropped up in an article we were reading. Obviously they thought it meant the same as “to be delicious”, so I goofed around a bit pretending to eat their arms off, amidst much shrieking, before confessing that that’s not what it means.
It means you like really cool things, good things, beautiful things, I said when everyone was reassured that I wasn’t trying to kill them. Look at Sally – she always wears very pretty dresses and tops. I think she has good taste in clothes. And Lily – she’s always listening to great songs on her phone. I think she has good taste in music. And Kelly, she’s in love with Kai (very popular boy no longer at the school) – everyone thinks she has good taste in men!
They understood (and Kelly looked pleased with herself). Now, can you make a sentence using “good taste”? I asked, wanting to check. Sally looked thoughtful. Can we say bad taste, too? Oh, dear. I confirmed that they could indeed reverse the statement, and then they all turned on me, the brats. Hayley teacher has bad taste in books, began Sally, gesturing disdainfully towards those bloody science books. There was much nodding from around the table. And she has bad taste in music, added Bella, referring to the song they’d heard me listening to when they arrived. Everyone was getting very enthusiastic about this conversation, and I jumped in hastily to defend myself. Now, hang on!!! Those books aren’t my fault! If I could choose, I’d use this one (holding up everyone’s favourite) all the time! And that song was by John Lennon – John Lennon, girls, do you know what you’re saying, here? They did not. A future lesson on the topic of great music icons is required. I think I have good taste in books, I said, twisting my face into a deeply wounded expression that prompted more giggles, and excellent taste in music! I don’t have very good taste in clothes, you can say that if you want.
You have to give them something.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. I think you don’t have good taste in men, said Kelly boldly, the whole Kai thing clearly having made her an authority on the matter. I was a little taken aback. Why do you think that? I asked, racking my brain for a time when they might have seen me with a particularly unattractive man. Because you are not married, she said. Everyone agreed that clearly I must have terrible taste in men to still be single at my age (a number that prompts dropping jaws and horrified gasps of sheer wonderment when you’re 7). The class quickly turned into a counselling session for the poor, badly dressed spinster with bad taste in absolutely everything and a tendency to choose the wrong man. What if I don’t want a husband? I asked, amused, and then laughed out loud at the utter disbelief and confusion on their little faces.
In today’s class, we shall be discussing following your dreams, travelling, and the radical concept of living your life for yourself (as opposed to getting married and having children even if it’s not something you really want). I may start a new organisation – one that sends out singletons to speak to children in schools across the world about how your ultimate goal in life does not need to be marriage. Sort of like missionaries spreading good news and living by example. No shame in being single, you don’t need a man to be complete! Make choices for yourself, don’t let society make them for you!
Or maybe I’ll just suffer under the confused and horrified gaze of my students and forever be the Crazy Cat Lady in their eyes…