Friday, December 07, 2007

So as not to see you see me react.

I wrote this to my improv teacher Jim, who is also my friend and whom I write everyday so that we can escape the tedium of our jobs.


You and I are alike in some ways, not alike in others. I've been attracted to bad elements, done bad things, destructive things and made some mistakes with some really terrible people. I would like to think that I've remained constant and good throughout whatever situations I was dealing with, but occasional lapses and weakness have probably made me a worse person than I'd like to think I am. It's certainly made me darker, a little bit more bitter - which would be great if I were, like, a chocolate, but I'm not. It's probably also made me a better writer, capable of drawing on a larger trove of human experience, but sometimes I wish that I could be the person who doesn't make jokes about, for instance, putting a puppy in a catapult.

I am also an intellectual snob, which makes it either ironic or telling that my apartment looks as scary as the Unabomber's. I've developed this habit around the bookstore and in my office of not tolerating fakery - even though I'm capable of it. A couple nights ago at the bookstore, our new security guard panicked because someone rang the back doorbell. I had to calm her down and tell her what happened. She asked me, startled, "There's a back door?" I had to tell her where it was - that it was in a room we'd actually been in together before. It was not her first night. She's the security guard. For some reason, it didn't provide me with much comfort when *I* had to tell her where one of the doors to the building was. Since then, I've had this opinion that she's stupid, and I can't shake it.

This year, because I've been trying to improve how I interact socially with friends and improve how I relax and cope with things, I've had to say goodbye to Scott, my on-again/off-again lover who could never commit and, in fact, would usually run from a discussion about commitment with me into the arms of some random Internet hookup, into the crotch of some skeevy guy from a bar or into some long road trip across state lines to experiment with some sort of fetish that he hadn't really indulged in before. I thought, at first, that it was because I was just too needy or that conversations with me just really annoyed him. It didn't occur to me that he was spectacularly ill-equipped to deal with the safety I was providing him, that I was - for once - the stable one in a relationship, until our waitress at the Steak 'n' Shake one night told me that any person who would run away from me and what I was providing was retarded. She said it in front of him. He was dumbstruck. It was one of the funniest moments of my life. I went back to the Steak 'n' Shake a couple months afterward to thank that waitress, but by then she was back in jail for - according to that night's staff at the Steak 'n' Shake - jumping the fence of a Halfway House to try and score some crystal meth. I don't think that invalidates her good advice, but I don't know.

I stopped hanging out with my friend Brad after I realized he would only come over to my apartment if he happened to have another appointment for "intimacy" near where I live. In March, an amputee in my neighborhood - whom he met through a website - canceled on him, and he told me that a trip to see me alone "wasn't worth the gas." On the phone, he said it in this sort of passive way, as though he were asking me to pass the salt. He couldn't figure out why I was laughing. And he didn't seem to notice for months that I was even upset. By then, I told him that I didn't like our friendship because I didn't like being "the back-up plan to an amputee hook-up." I asked him why my crippled legs weren't good enough to spend time with.

I also said goodbye to my best friend Vickye, who I actually don't think likes me very much. Even though she claims to love me, I never see her, and she's spectacularly unreliable. One time during our 20s, she got married, and she didn't introduce me to her husband for four years. She said she didn't think we'd get along. I finally met him at a skating rink during her niece's birthday party. They were divorced within a year. Vic lost her job earlier this year, then changed her phone number so that I didn't get to talk to her from August until the end of October - when she called up and said that she wanted to get back to "feeling like herself." We made plans to do something just recently, and she stood me up. And, actually, that's exactly the way that Vickye is herself.

The patterns lesson reinforced for me that, maybe, getting away from these folks - and unreliable folks like this - was the right move. Thank you for it.

Anyway, this e-mail is too long.


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