Pants on fire

“Without wearing any mask we are conscience of, we have a special face for each friend.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

It actually started with silence.

I have a lovely friend who picks and chooses to which of my text messages she will respond. At times, she responds in seconds (normally, if she needs an answer to a question she has for me). Other times, she simply doesn’t answer at all (normally, if I need an answer to a question for her). It isn’t that she is not receiving my texts, or driving, or in church. Her phone is attached to her hand like a cyborg-type appendage. And while most of what I have to say is not of earth-shattering, epic importance, it is still extremely frustrating, rather insulting, and borderline infuriating that she does this. Often.

In our latest thread, we were discussing weekend plans with the chickens.

Me (1:00pm, Tuesday): So, planning on heading to the Avocado Street Festival around 5:30 Friday. Wanna go?

My Lovely Friend (MLF) (1:02pm): We can meet you there, I think. Let me ask Steve (her husband).

Me (1:04pm): Fun! 🤗

****************************************************

Me (2:30pm Thursday): You guys coming Friday? I heard parking is a nightmare, we might need to get there before 5.

****************************************************

Me (12:00 pm Friday): Just got done with my class at Orangetheory. OMG, I’m going to hurt for days . . .

MLF (12:01pm): You’re crazy. Hey, what’s the name of your electrician?

Me (12:10pm): Erick Sanders.

MLF (12:02pm): Ok, great. I need someone to fix our fan!

Me (12:05pm): I swear, you should just move already . . .so, are you guys in for tonight? I’ll text you when we get there.

*****************************************************

Me (5:21pm): Hey, we made it. Parked right in front of Target.

****************************************************

Me (6:30pm): We’re at Gyromat eating dinner, if you’re looking for us. . .

MLF (7:30pm): Yeah, we got there at 5, and Robbie (her son) said he wanted this new comic book, and then he was hungry . . .we ended up leaving because he couldn’t decide between chicken or pizzaand pitched a fit. Plus, Steve was going to take us to dinner out at the restaurant, so we ate there, and now we’re headed home.

Me (7:35pm): K

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As a mother, I totally get it, like, a thousand percent. Things always come up, always last minute. Kids can be real pains and really unpredictable pains.

I have no issue with what happened there. I have an issue with the silence and the non-communication on her part.

So, as I’m ranting to poor Ray about MLF’s behaviour, it occurs to me: I’m bitching to my husband about what she’s doing, but not saying a word to her about it.

And here’s the thing: If I don’t tell her what’s wrong with her non-communication, it will inevitably continue to happen.

What’s the definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.” By not telling her, we are doomed to repeat the same cycle, and she will continue to piss me off.

I like hanging out with her. My kids like her kids. We have a blast together. My problem is that she can’t just respond. Even if it’s an, “I don’t know”, “Waiting to hear”, or even a “Hang on.” Hell, I would settle for any random ambiguous emoji. Including the poop one.

But how did I respond to MLF that day?

“K.”

How is she going to stop driving me nuts if she doesn’t know that she’s driving me nuts?

She is not the only one with behaviour that bothers me. We all have those people, and everyone knows who they are, because their behaviour is likely not limited to only affecting one person.

But, no one says anything. So, nothing changes. And we continue to bitch about them behind their back.

MLF is one of my best friends. Will her perception of me change if I tell her what is bothering me about her behaviour? What am I afraid of?

What are any of us afraid of? The perceptions of those around us, I suppose.

Everyone wants the people around them to like them. Will MLF like me a little less if I tell her that I don’t like that she ignores my texts if it’s convienient for her? With our established, 6 year relationship? I don’t think so.

So, why don’t I just tell her: “Hey, it’s f#cking rude not to tell me what’s going on, so I can plan accordingly.”

Why don’t I?

Because I want to keep the peace, and stay out on top as the ‘better person who handled it nicely.”

Ahhhh . . .there’s the rub. Being the better one. EGO.

We are all liars. We want nothing more than approval from others which is why we don’t tell the truth.

Maybe this is where I have the choice between being the older a##hole, yelling to the local kids, “Hey, STAY OFF MY LAWN,” or else being the guy keeping quiet, raging about the damn kids who won’t stay off my lawn internally. Or worse, to Ray.

Ray: You’re whining again. Everything’s all in that voice. That, “NAG NAG NAG. . .”

Me: “Ugh, fine! Nevermind, I won’t tell you about my day!”

Ray: “Well, I mean, do something about it, or it won’t change!”

He’s right.

Take my friends Jake and Cindy, for example. They are probably the most beautiful, coolest, hippest people I know. They are so cool, in fact, that their neighbours are stalking them.

Like, literally. The wife comes into their home through the front door, a la Lenny and Squiggy style, is always buying the same clothes that she wears, doing her hair the same way as Cindy, hanging out in the same places, and constantly trying to arrange playdates with their kids, even though they are 7 years apart.

“It’s gotten really creepy,” Jake told me the other day, “we had to really start locking the door, and not answering the doorbell. . . you’d think she’d take the hint!”

I decided to channel my inner Ray.

“So . . .you haven’t just come out and been blunt? It’s obvious she’s not going to stop unless you just tell the truth. Otherwise, nothing is going to change, right?”

“Well, yeah. But the husband’s cool. And we don’t want it to be weird . . .”

“But, it won’t change.”

“Yeah, but we’re neighbours . . .”

And that’s just IT. They don’t want to be the source of any uncomfortableness between them. Would rather that come from their neighbor. So, they will opt to suffer in silence, and continue to have funny/creepy stories to tell at cocktail parties.

Maybe we enjoy feeling above others. We must enjoy that thrill of superiority. Who hasn’t patted themselves on the back for a smooth handling of an uncomfortable or volitile situation, and then gone on to seek approval from others by sharing the experience?

“No, I think you said the right thing. I mean, they are who they are.”

There’s our validation.

I’m going to try the truth route. It’s not going to be easy. I had no idea how often I bit my tongue, or how many times I tried to be gracious until one morning at the school.

Julia: “I am so sorry we ended up missing the party Saturday!”

Me: “I wish you had called, we waited for you.”

Julia: “Things just got so crazy. . . ”

Me: “I understand, but call me? You have my number, right? We didn’t know what happened.”

Julia: “I’m sorry.”

There was no, “It’s okay.” I think I made my point that it was decidedly not okay.

So, we will see where this “truth” thing gets me. It’s freeing, in a way. I used to think that I was just me, that people could take or leave me as I was, and that I didn’t care what anyone thought.

That was the lie I told to myself. The biggest one of them all.

 

 

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