Over the weekend, I had a really strange encounter. The specifics are totally negligible— at least when it comes to proving my point here. Basically, I would like to dissect the root behind the phrase: Mind Your Own Beeswax. — Affectionately (or annoyingly) referred to by seven year olds as ‘MYOB’. But first, let me take a selfie. **Sorry, correction. But first, let me tell you why we’re discussing this today.
After I heard an acquaintance was gossiping about me, I kindly asked said acquaintance to please respect my privacy. Or, in preschool speak, to mind his/her own beeswax! Acquaintance responded with a resounding, “It’s none of your business!”/“I can say whatever I want!” Now, here’s where Robert Frost comes in. (I know! Bet you didn’t expect to see him here!) Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I… got really upset. It totally surprised me that someone wouldn’t just apologize. For the rest of the weekend, I walked around with some seriously fearsome anxiety pumping through my veins. I had not been expecting such a strong rejection of, what I, Avery, believed was reasonable. It freaked me out, and disturbed me. I was confused, to begin with, why someone I barely knew had something to say about me, but I was also hurt. Don’t we all just want to go along minding our own
beeswax, being happy and striving for growth?!
So here’s the deal, the question, the situation, whatever. I am not an intensely private person— hello, I write a quasi-revealing blog. At the same time, I am a human being, and my feelings do get hurt. Maybe it wasn’t my beeswax to confront the acquaintance…but was my beeswax the acquaintance’s beeswax to share and twist with others? I have been raised during an era in which Caroline Knapp’s beautiful Drinking: A Love Story
was written, a highly emotional, incredibly personal story about a
young woman’s struggle with alcohol. She welcomed everyone to join in her beeswax, because she felt she had a story to tell. My grandmother read Didion’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” as a young mother. Again, another series of personal revelations and opinions that Didion wanted
to share. So maybe I should be proud of my beeswax, my business, the things that someone else sees as threatening enough to be shit-talk worthy. The things someone thinks I can be judged for.
Unfortunately, I’m not Caroline or Joan. (At least, not yet.) And I want my business to be my own. At the very least, I want my business to be accurately conveyed. I think we’ve all experienced this in some capacity or another, fighting against inaccuracies or false representations. I hadn’t experienced that before, and I’m sorry everyone, because that really sucked!…
But it’s okay! Because now I get to tell you the totally wacked out root of ‘MYOB’.
I guess in the 18th and 19th centuries, when small pox was super prevalent, some
women used beeswax to cover up their resulting skin blemishes. If, while sitting by a fire, the woman’s wax began to melt, her friends might yell out, “Mind your own beeswax!” How. Crazy.
A less cool theory is that beeswax used to mean ‘tedious bore.’ So, if you were really not into your blood letter’s super dull story, you might say, “Mind your own, beeswax!” (I prefer the former.)