Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Friends are like Savings Bonds...

Insert your own "interest" and "maturity" joke here.

I don't like to be grumpy.  I don't like to be the old man who sits and points with his cane at all the new stuff and comments, "This used to *mean* something."

But I continually find myself in that situation.  Time after time, I get all self-righteous and crusty about some subject or the behavior of someone else.  Thankfully, I don't think it's happening more often as I age, but it has been going on since I was about eleven.

I just have more grump-per-mile than the average male.

A dear friend came back to Kansas City to visit recently.  She popped into town and granted me a place on her supremely busy schedule: a lunch date on a Friday.  We met at a cafe in the suburbs and talked for hours -- too bad I had to go to work or we'd have stretched it into a two-course event.

While she was here, we got on the subject of my dating life.  I hashed over some of "that which has gone before" for her general amusement and applause.  She gave a couple of half-hearted stories about the trials of married life, but we both knew that she was glad to be out and gone from the pool.  While describing the girl who bounced everywhere, I stopped myself and grumbled about how much I grumbled.  I didn't want to be all "Old Mister Wilson" about everything, but it was hard not to be discouraged in my quest to meet someone who doesn't freak out at doing her own taxes.

After a little while of me experiencing recrimination, she said, "While I know you don't want to be judgmental, have you heard about Alyssa?"  I hadn't -- it turns out that Alyssa moved in with her "guy" and things are externally weird.  They're happy as clams, but everyone else says, "Don't they realize how small that bubble they're in actually IS?" 

My friend was prompting me to be grumpy about another friend.

For the record, I believe Alyssa is making a poorly-evaluated choice.  I believe Constance showed massive immaturity to reveal she was moving across country by just vanishing and reappearing.  I think Stan was wrong to start dating that girl simply because she was kind of nice to him.  I think Elizabeth is wrong for compromising to land a guy who is "mostly not crazy". 

And I think I'm wrong to stomp around in in the puddles of my disappointment and loneliness.

All of these things betray a lack of maturity.  It is this lack of maturity that irks me nowadays, whether it's the coworker who wants to fight everyone who kicks his chair or the woman who spends so much time berating herself that she doesn't let anyone else praise her.

It also annoys me to no end that I'm contractually obligated to be unable to manage my time correctly, draw a significant enough curtain between my commercial and my private feelings, harbor extensive judgements about friends behavior, willing to risk more for better social rewards, and so forth.

I'd love to be able to make truthful declaritive statements about other people's lives, but only if I could be assured that I wouldn't turn into myself and somehow berate them without meaning to or belittle things they hold dear.  I'd also like to avoid sounding patronizing or paternal and be able to explain in a constructive and meaningful way.

And I'd also like a pony.

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