My father doesn’t trust me it seems. I think it stems from a desire to be protective, but when I tell him, “I think I need to write about this stuff,” he gets nervous I’ll go too far or that I’m focusing on things that don’t require my attention because they’re not worthy things to ruminate on. It’s rather sweet, really. My Pops wants to protect me from myself. Always has.
And that’s why guys, even when you’re kinda rotten, I don’t have bad feelings for you. I’ve had the great, rare privilege of being raised by a complicated, brilliant guy who puts those he loves before himself and is still just a dude, in the best sense of the word. So I know what you’re capable of. And he defends you guys, when I cry and complain about how you’re being weird or not making any sense to me. He tells me that anything is possible — even when it looks like there’s been too much misunderstanding to repair. He says that time and a closed door do a lot of work on their own and that optimism is key. And I believe him over the other voices of well-meaning friends who say, “That person will never be nice to you again. And even if they try, after being that mean to you, why would you want them to be?”
I don’t have a good answer for that except I try to fix things if I can. And I don’t think life is best lived with an outlook of hopelessness or a feeling that the next time I see someone there’s no chance for a meeting of the minds, or even just a decision to cordially high-five and never cross paths again. Seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy and that feels like a silly thing to program. So Pops reaffirms that for me and reminds me that no one can control circumstance and you must deal with circumstances as they come.
I said all that to say this though: despite my Pops saying it’s unwise to write about these things in short form (Twitter) or long, I have to do it. I have to. I do my level best to be as cryptic as I can (something the Twerp found annoying, presumably because he knew I was writing about him in many cases and I think he wanted the attention, negative though it was. And that, my friends, is just weird as all hell and a completely crazy concept to me. Who wants attention for being a complete doofus in the eyes of someone? My God, man, do you need eyes on you that bad?…). But when I discover that someone who, for example, I rather admired (possibly still do for what I think actually lives inside him) but who wasn’t all that cool to me for whatever reason has said some pretty inflammatory things unfairly (albeit some time ago but I’m just hearing about them), I mean…damn…I don’t know what to do with that. There was some snotty little remark about “associations” that just resonated with snobbish mean-girlness that I’ve not really experienced to that degree since high school. I’m pretty sure I know where it came from but yikes, man…Trust me, there are people out there who are actually accomplishing pretty impressive stuff against great odds (which is to say they weren’t just handed a ready-made opportunity) who could easily look down a nose in contempt. But they don’t. Because they know, in the world where you have to get along with no one to catch your fall, it’s exceedingly unbecoming and tragically stupid to behave that way. But I digress…
Anyway, I’ve spent a great bulk of my life not standing up for myself. I was trained not to, to be the peacekeeper, not make things worse, be the bigger person, take people’s nastiness and rise above it. And I’m so sorry Pops if this is disappointing to you — I truly am — but I have to stop absorbing that stuff and letting it chew me up from the inside out. I have to have my quips and comments and thoughts because they help me not feel like a victim of the selfishness and bullying. Particularly in a case, for example, where my finer tendency — that one that tries to fix things — is used against me. Where my need to make things cool and friendly is allowed to continue until it’s a nice little weapon. In short, when I get played a little. Not sure why that was necessary exactly, but I think certain people are always looking for weapons. And they’ll make them if they have to. And that’s okay. I’m empathizing if not sympathizing. I just don’t want it to be the last word. I may not be able to control that, but I can control not just taking the hit without laughing about it and using that great intellect you’ve always said was my best asset. And I can control turning a nasty attempt to tell me what an absolute piece of sh*t I am in an email from someone I don’t know, and for no reason other than a desire to throw some weight around (which is to say, I had committed no crime against this person) into a hilarious joke (which I feel kind of bad about except it probably matched the nastiness of the email). All so I don’t get beaten down by the ugliness. Because if I’m beaten, I’m unable to move forward. And moving forward is the goal.
Which brings me to the other guy I’m not angry at but don’t quite know how to deal with. A very good man I care about a great deal. He’s a friend and I love him. And the best and greatest thing about him is that he would never use my finer instincts against me. If anything, he takes issue with the not-so-finer ones, the pettiness and gossip-girl stuff that’s pretty useless on the grand scale. He has always communicated with me, even when what he had to say was hard. And I listen to him and respect him for that. And he warns me about letting people craft weapons and has been legitimately proud of me for standing up for myself when he knows how difficult that is for me to do.
I seem to have disappointed him as well. I can’t go into the specifics (which are actually hilarious and mom knows so ask her but be prepared to be slightly shocked) but suffice to say I didn’t understand the protocol of the place we were at and he called me out on it. And I got embarrassed and excused myself and went home. And now I don’t now if I should apologize or be indignant (and I have good reason to be the latter). And so the boys are confusing me again. And I don’t have that thing I see in so many of the young ladies these days, that ability to be snarky and ignore, and then take up the mantle when it suits me again. Or to be as cruel as possible and publicly embarrass the person you profess to care deeply for. I don’t have it because I don’t want it. It’s a silly game and a power trip and every — EVERY. Every single one.– relationship I’ve seen that employs it fails after a time. Because it sucks. It’s no way to relate to people.
And so my Pops, I wrote all of this — leaving off politics, about which I have many, many thoughts that I might actually address in this space tomorrow if I have time — so you wouldn’t be disappointed in me. So you wouldn’t think the chunky toddler you trained to be thoughtful and kind had become hateful and sarcastic as a general rule. I’m just negotiating harder people who think nothing of throwing their “loves” under the bus, and negotiating nicer people than I who expect me to be better than maybe I am.
But I’m still your chunky toddler and don’t worry about me. You gave me the right tools. I’m just figuring out how to use them.