Big boots, stray socks and drama.

flowersThere have been some recent events, which I’m not at liberty to discuss, that have gotten me thinking long and hard about females, friendships and feelings. For better or worse, I’m not sure if I’ve ever given more than a glancing thought to these issues. I pride myself on my relatively drama free life. I love the ease of all my guy friendships and my low-maintenance girl friendships. The last fight I was in was in seventh grade when my best friend Sweet Sue and I broke up for a whole summer. I can’t even remember why. I do, however, remember seeing her on the first day of eighth grade in Mrs. Strong’s classroom and just adoring her violently Sun-Inned hair and realizing, in a rush, how much I had missed her. We made up. Just like that. Then once in college I got really mad when my friend La Peruanita took my big red boxy sweatshirt, which if I recall correctly, wasn’t even my sweatshirt and might actually have been her sweatshirt, but I had kind of adopted it and it was a crucial piece of my wardrobe. She heard about my ire through the grapevine and the wretched thing reappeared in my milk crate in due course. Crisis averted, I suppose.

When I wrote about the Babe-o-matics recently, it occurred to me that it was remarkable that six girl/women had made it four years with zero drama. But in retrospect I wonder if that was really the case. One of the original Babe-o-matics chose to cut ties with us a few years after we graduated. The rest of us have tried to work through the why’s of it, with little success. There is never a time that we get together that she doesn’t come up. It might be something that has to do with her more than us. Or maybe, something did happen and we missed it.

I have another more recent friend who would say time and time again – she doesn’t like me, or that one’s hot and cold with me, or she has it in for me, or I never know where I stand with that one. And I would listen with a mixture of fascination (because what’s more fascinating than someone else’s drama?) and scepticism. I find her loveable and thus constantly felt like Jerry Seinfeld’s mother shrieking in my best Jewish old lady voice How could anyone not like you? ¬†And every once in a while I’d feel a little frightened by it – like is this ever going to trickle over to me? Because I have a horror of this kind of thing. I don’t think I could go through even one day suspecting that someone I deal with on a frequent basis has a beef with me. It would drive me absolutely bananas. And so I avoid the whole kit and kaboodle.

No drama for this mama.

But I wonder if my drama free life is really as drama free as I think it is. The recent episode that got me thinking about this made me realize that I sort of stomp through life in big boots and maybe I need to be more careful. The whole thing took me by surprise and I realized that I’m just not tuned into this kind of thing, at all. And because these people are special to me, I felt bad about it, even though I wasn’t directly involved in it. As a rule I don’t feel a lot of angst or insecurity or competitiveness with other women and I choose to assume everyone else is the same. Maybe in my fervor to steer clear of sticky situations, I have let myself become impervious to other people’s fragilities and feelings. Maybe my mellow, low-maintenance, confident schtick is really a cop out – because I don’t want to tangle, or tango, or whatever.

Assume socks are drama. It’s possible I’m the guy who truly doesn’t see them on the ground when he walks by. Or maybe I’m the guy who doesn’t want to pick them up, so he pretends he doesn’t see them. I really don’t know. I hate that second guy. On the other hand, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life picking up socks. Isn’t it better to turn a blind eye, sail on above it all, and if you miss a couple hurt feelings here and again, so be it? Or is it better to be open, to be perceptive, to be sensitive to the drama like my Jerry Seinfeld friend?

I don’t know. I don’t know which is better. And maybe it’s not even a choice so much as a reaction you can no sooner control than fear or surprise. In any event, I think I’m keeping my big boots. And I’m not saying I’m going to pick up any socks, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll try to see one every once in a while.

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One Response to “Big boots, stray socks and drama.”

  • PC Says:

    Peevish Mama,

    Another thoughtful post. I will limit myself to a couple quick reactions.

    First, as you know from our own long history of friendship and mutual friends, you girls have no monopoly on drama. Guys may be worse, given how comparatively taciturn we are with emotions. But the complicated nature of female friendships begs for more writing and thought from you. I agree it’s fascinating stuff.

    Secondly, perhaps you’re onto something about your big boots providing false cover from the drama that happens between people.

    It reminds me of an old friend who called today, talking about how he always thought, given the nature of his work, he was insulated from office “politics” until recent changes at his agency. We laughed about how naive that sounded. What are office “politics” but the messy and inevitable stew of human emotion, much of it unpleasant: jealousy, competitiveness, distrust and fear? Who among us gets to stomp blithely without dealing with that? Likewise, your notion of drama. Your instincts to avoid it are laudable and perhaps natural to your disposition, but sadly that doesn’t exempt you from it. And yes, trying to be above it sometimes prevents you from dismantling it when it festers…

    As it may have with the lost Babe-O. I have no idea what happened there. You guys all seemed genuinely befuddled over a decade ago when you married Dash and she had fallen out of the picture. I have not talked to her since then, but we recently connected over Facebook. It was one of many of what I call “silent handshakes”, reconnections with people without any actual conversation. We exchanged a note when she posted about a business trip to NYC, but were unable to meet in person.

    She seems to be doing very well and I have no idea if she thinks about the Babe-Os or what those feelings are. I hesitate to speculate too much but will say this: sometimes people pull away from those intense friendships after school because they have an urgent need to redefine themselves away from the people they were so close to. So I agree with your thought that this is usually more about the person who chooses to pull away than the people they pull away from.

    And if it was a misunderstanding, well after all this time, even the hardest feelings soften. The thing that keeps the estrangements alive is more awkwardness about breaking them then hard feelings.

    What I’m saying is that I’m sure, even without having talked to her in a dozen or so years, the lost Babe-O has warm and deep feelings for the Babe-Os she’s not in touch with. And if you or any of the other girls reached out to her, I bet everyone would be grateful.

    PC

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