Although I hadn't intended to add a second post in one day (wow, revive a blog and you get really verbose!), I did feel the need to vent a little bit.
Dear population of the world: Please do not congratulate me for anything that is not my personal accomplishment.
This sounds a little obvious, doesn't it? I mean, you wouldn't congratulate me for Bode Miller's skiing triumphs, would you? (I'm using Mr. Miller as an example because the Winter Olympics are going on this week and I just saw him on the TV last night.) Seriously, you really wouldn't congratulate me for any skiing-based thing whatsoever, unless it was "you totally did not kill yourself and/or fourteen other people while the skis were attached to your person!" because I do not ski, never have and never will.
I'm talking about something a little more theoretical. In the past few years, I've been congratulated for a number of things that have nothing to do with me. The College of William and Mary had a transgender Homecoming Queen. I was congratulated for my alma mater's surprisingly liberal move. Maryland approved gay marriage. I was congratulated for my state (well, I did live in it at the time) being progressive. The Church elected a very liberal Pope. I was congratulated.
The thing about this kind of statement is that none of these things were my doing in any way, shape or form. By the time William and Mary made its move, I'd been out of college for twenty years. By the time Maryland did its thing, I had been so pissed off at Maryland and hated it so much that I hadn't bothered to vote in its elections for years because I didn't give a damn what happened to it. And out of approximately nine gazillion Catholics in the world, I'm fairly sure my feelings about the selection of a Pope didn't really count. Also ever since I moved back to Richmond I've been going to the Episcopal church because I'd rather be a good Richmonder than a good Catholic.
Also, the well-wishers assumed that I agreed with all of these things. Maybe I do and maybe I don't--it's not my plan here to take political or religious stands--but in any case, unless the speaker happens to know that I do, it's a rash assumption.
What I find most presumptuous was that in none of these cases was the speaker a member of the organization/institution for whose actions he congratulated me--which adds patronization to presumption. If you're not a Catholic, a W&M alum, or a Marylander, it really isn't your business what they do--unless it's directly affecting you.