Thursday, July 10, 2014

Judiciously Silent

One of the big problems with having friends is they can break your heart, a bit. They may not necessarily intend to do it -- especially if they're good friends! -- but they can still do it.

The type of heartbreak I'm talking about isn't a romantic one. It's more just the uncanny ability that friends have of showing me the ways that I've been a fool. And having been a fool, the path back to sensibility leads through a bit of heartbreak.

That heartbreak is the pain of realizing that the foolishness has led to an unprofitable end; a collection of efforts towards goals that were fruitless. Maybe the efforts were fruitless the entire time. We none of us like to think of our efforts as wasted, even though there may be certain inclinations if we're naturally perceptive.

If we trust in the power of our friends to -- in fact and deed -- be our friends, then listening to them grumble about SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY will make us think about the parts of that that apply to us, in ways we might be reluctant to admit. That way, if they get very critical about SOMEONE ELSE who was doing very ill-advised things, it softens the blow for us. We discover how our friends would react to our (also ill-advised) behaviors, if they were free to use all of their powers for emphasizing hand-gestures, for forming scoffing noises, for rolling eyes, for making the "can you even believe it?" faces -- if they were free to use all of those powers without the knowledge that they would make us sad and self-critical by doing so.

And if they get a suspicion that we might be avoiding eye contact or making non-committal sounds while they are talking about SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY, often times our friends will have the prudence to avoid calling too much attention to it. Because they are our friends, after all: most of them are willing to do lots of things in order to avoid deliberately embarrassing us by pressing the matter.

Unless it's going to be funny. Then it might be fair game.

*** *** ***

It sounds like I'm just taking dictation from the voice of Long Experience on "how friends can slightly embarrass us in our own minds," but it is recently codified information. While recently riding back from lunch with a friend, they asked:

"Have you watched much of the Royals lately?"

An innocuous question, seeing it typed out on the page. The additional information that helps fill out the scenario is that the Royals make me think of This Girl, and This Girl is someone I've been interested in, and this particular friend is the only person that I've even come close to indicating that fact to -- because they asked a while back.

I'm sure there are others who suspect or regret or scoff or wonder at the notion (including This Girl herself, most likely) but the words have only half-accidentally tumbled out of my lips once or twice. And that's because my Kryptonite is being asked a sincere question about myself. It is the subject I'm least prepared to answer.

So, weakened from the effects of (un)said Kryptonite, I answered the above question jauntily. My general defense is "jauntily," because when I'm asked about certain topics, I panic. And during the panic, the part of my brain that answers nonchalantly gets to take control, and before I know it, a boring and florid answer will escape my lips. I'm sure it went something like this:

"Well, there hasn't been that much to see, really, because I'm ever so busy and important. And I haven't seen much of her because she's very busy and important. And there has been lots of travel work as the year wraps up and that's very busy and important. And did you know that Benjamin Franklin made beer that was busy and important? That's true! And so: no! I haven't seen This Girl in six months. Hope she's all right! And that's why I really haven't had time for baseball, but I hear the Royals are doing well, I guess? Ha. Heh. Ahem."

At this point, I've guaranteed that the listener is either incredibly suspicious of me, or has moved on to checking email on their phone.

And I get launched into an evaluation of all the stuff I talked about in the above section. And my friend, very courteously, avoids deliberately embarrassing me by pressing the matter.

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