Monday, November 19, 2012

a short story

A few years back, not too long after I'd settled in my chosen home town, I made contact with one of my best guy friends from 'the old days.' Snake and I had started school together in grade 1, been in accelerated elementary programs together, become fast friends by high school, and finally graduated together to escape our home town for greener, bigger pastures. From grade 10 on, I had a massive crush on 'my buddy' but always believed that he just saw me as one of the guys.

I couldn't stand the girl he dated in high school, but tried to make nice to her for the sake of our friendship. She was actually a great girl, and it was only jealousy that held me back from liking her. Jealousy of their relationship, but also of her seeming to be everything I wasn't. When Snake and I reconnected, it had been 20 years since I'd seen my friend, and nearly as long since our college letter-writing promise had died out - the last letter I'd sent him was to announce my engagement, with a hidden hope that he'd say 'don't do it.' We had a lot of catching up to do. 

We met at a local pub for dinner. I was relatively newly divorced at the time, and Snake asked how being divorced/re-single was for me. In the course of answering, I finally admitted my long-standing crush, and that there was/is some part of me that had made up from that probably-typical-highschool situation that I'm the kind of girl guys like to hang out with, but not someone they ever consider 'girlfriend material,' That decision I'd made in high school - that I'm too big. Too loud. Too much - continued to colour my relationships. Somehow, I was just not what guys want no matter how much weight I lost or how much I dumbed myself down. 

Snake looked truly sad when I said all of that, even though I tried to make clear I wasn't blaming anyone else for what I had made up. He had tears in his eyes when he said to me, "I was afraid of that. I always knew you felt something for me, and I too thought we'd be great together, but two things held me back: mostly - and this was the bigger factor - fear that if we dated, we'd both end up trapped in that little town. And, secondly, your sharp tongue." 

It was one of the best conversations I've ever had, and it seems like I'm still learning from it 6 years later. The moral of the story is that often when I think I'm being witty, it's at the cost of someone else, or at the cost of a relationship. I still do it - lash out at people to try to deflect what I'm feeling, or cutting off friends who empower me. I did it on Saturday to BB2 just because I had no real reply to one of his quips. I do it frequently to STG, and then wonder why there's a gap between us. 

All I can do is keep hoping that some day the lesson will stick. The problem with having a way with words is that it's so easy to turn them into whips. 


  1. What an honest post. And well written. There's a little of this in all of us, I think. We manifest it in different ways. Awareness, as the shrinks say, is that first step. Great post. I wish you success in your desire for change. Cheers.

  2. Great heartfelt post.

    Almost all wit is at the expense of someone else. It's difficult, at times, to know where the line is between humor and insult. Can that person take it? Have you gone too far?

    One place I worked, the guys were always jagging each other. They all laughed and no one seemed to mind. If women said those kinds of things to each other, someone would be in tears. But, yet, I wondered if any of the guys were sensitive, too, and just pretended they didn't mind. My husband, for example, would have been depressed for days if someone teased him about something he is sensitive about.

    I've noticed that when I watch, say a Leno or Letterman monologue, I think most jokes are hysterically funny, but if they are about someone in my profession or who has one of my flaws, it's not so funny. If it's about a public figure I dislike, it's witty. If it's about someone I respect, it's dumb or even nasty.

    There probably isn't a person alive who hasn't said something hurtful when we thought we were being funny. I guess we have to read people well to know how they will react, or maybe we just need to bite our tongues and say nothing.

    My response to the Weekend Linkup at Write on Edge can be found here:
    Please stop by.


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