Posted by: shelliejelly | November 14, 2008

There are days

There are days, as I am sure everyone has, where I wish I could follow every impulse to its conclusion. But I know better; I’ve always known better. And, to be fair, knowing better has saved me and others a lot of heartache, some embarrassment and more than a few dollars.

Once, when O. and our friend A. were having drinks, I pondered aloud what a day might look like if everyone told the truth to one another as it came to them. Again, the following of impulses, the saying out loud of the unsaid, like “Hey, your teeth are really weird,” or “Wow, I love your hands.” The idea was to for one day not leave one single thought unsaid.

A. and O. both looked at me and said, nearly in unison, “No one would be friends or love one another if we lived like that, even for a day.” I knew they were right. I mean, really, how many thoughts do I have in a day that are probably equally divided between generous and hateful.

But the intentions behind these thoughts are never hurtful. I don’t look at complete strangers and think to myself “They need to get a haircut” because I want to make them feel bad. All of these thoughts probably level the playing field — for everyone.

I know I could lose 20 pounds, perhaps grow my hair a little longer and maybe dress more fashionably. So perhaps I notice others, both good and bad, so I can feel like a part of something bigger than myself. So I am not trudging a lonely trail with self-love on one side and self-loathing on the other.

I didn’t agree with O. and A. right away. I fought on for a while longer, talking to them about truth and honesty. They’d come back with long sentences with words like “social fabric” and “white lies” and “diplomacy.” And, alright, I get it and I got it and I told them so. I understand these issues. I know what’s at stake. As a graduate student in rhetoric I studied linguistics and the integral part politeness plays in social order.

But wouldn’t it be nice, sometimes, to just get to the heart of the matter. Wipe away all the “buts” and “howevers” and “I didn’t mean to imply” and just say the unsaid in the simplest, most concise manner possible?

Today’s impulse is to text O. and ask him why he turned everything to shit. Why he let his marriage and his child fall to absolute last on his list of priorities. If he were honest, his answer would maybe require three words: I didn’t care.

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