Friday, March 17, 2006

"You see? This is why I'd rather be alone."
(-Ben Folds)

During Spring Break (last week), I talked over AIM with a girl I knew while I was in high school. She's three years younger, but she'd been really nice and friendly when I was going through a rough period in my life. When she added me as a friend on Facebook, we got back in touch and talked for a while. I asked her if she'd be interested in getting coffee with me, and named a day. She agreed readily, and asked for my phone number. I gave it to her, along with my email. To this day, I have not heard from her. Nor did she respond to my instant message wondering why she hadn't gotten back to me.

This week, after I'd gotten settled back in, I was going to watch some Firefly. The person I normally watch it with on Tuesday nights couldn't make it, soI asked my PChem lab partner from last semester if she wanted to come over and watch an episode. We'd spent four days a week either in lab or in lecture together, and she seemed pretty cool, so I was rather gobsmacked when I got this response:

Me: I was going to ask if you'd be interested in watching an episode tonight
Me: my friend was supposed to come over but he couldn't make it
Former Lab Partner: i appreciate you asking, but i feel like it might be awkward because we don't really know each other outside of class
Me: ...what do you mean?
Former Lab Partner: just that working in lab together was fine, but it would be weird for me to start hanging out outside class

I'll leave you to make of that what you will. My translation was: "I'd watch a movie with you, but you're really not good enough for me...sorry."

Finally, I got tired of watching Firefly alone and asked one of my friends, whom I'll call Primo, if he wanted to come over and watch it on Wednesday. He told me that he was busy that night, but that he could come over Thursday (last night). I asked another "friend", whom I'll call Secundo, if he wanted to come over. He told he had midterms to study for on Monday all through this weekend. I can respect that, as I have several midterms coming up next week that look pretty hellacious. So, imagine my surprise when Secundo called Primo while Primo was over here, asking him if he was free to hang out. Primo told him that he was over at my room watching some TV and chilling. Secundo consequently hustled over here in record time, his midterms apparently either magically disappeared or suddenly forgotten.

So, in a week, I have had three cases of people who I thought were my friends, or at least people who had some respect for me, treat me with intentional disregard, outright rudeness, and blatant hypocrisy in furtherance of avoiding me. The only person who treated me with any regard was Primo, who is one of the few people I don't feel paranoid about.

But, really, what's the point? Why even bother reaching out to people? When they aren't ignoring me or brushing me off, they treat me with scorn and disdain. There have not been three subsequent cases in which I was more sure that I was being deliberately made into a pariah--not a pariah as a consequence of my own actions, but a pariah as a consequence of other people's contempt or maladjusted social tendencies (I'm still not sure which is more prevalent).

I'm not anti-social as a rule. I used to like people. I used to be interested in the dynamics of social interaction. But now, I have to admit I really don't give a damn. There are a few people in my life--my PMA brother Eric, my freshman hallmate Lauren, and my good EYC friend Peter spring to mind--that I trust and love, and whom I know return my respect. But beyond those few I no longer have any interest in broadening my circle of friends. "You can't help me, not you guys/And all you sweet, sweet girls with all your sweet talk/You can all go take a walk," as Lou Reed famously sang.

There is a line from the Great Gatsby that, although I have not read the book, really sums up certain aspects of this situation: "... he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream." My dream? My dream was that once I got away from high school, from the mindless misery of being 15 or 16 and feeling unloved, that I'd find a place where I could reach out to others and have them reach back, where I could love and be loved for who I was instead of being an outcast. And now I guess I've paid the price for living with that dream.

Pale-faced and hollowed eyes
Buried under ruptured skies
Not every smile means I'm laughing inside
Two-faced and compromised
I've enraptured you with lies
Everything means nothing
And tonight everything is mine
(-The Wallflowers)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

cheer up. there's life after college. people get nicer the older they get. Ever notice how nice senior citizens are ? When your 70, you'll look back at this time and laugh. Those 50 years will go by just like that. (just kidding). Personally, I'm going to move into a retirement center when I'm 40, so I'll be younger than everyone else, and I'll be able to rule the center with an iron fist, with nobody there young enough to appose me.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got the right attitude here. Check the person out and if they're bozos under that smooth exterior, move along.

And believe me, there are sooo many bozos out there. Graduate school is even worse cuz they're climbing over you, stepping on your face to get to the top of the pile.

Never underestimate people's wilingness -- no, make that need -- to have others carry their shame. Any of their mess they can project into you, they will. And the ones that really shock you are the ones you thought were your friends for years.

You only have to look at the divorce rate to realize how much of this culture is made up of jerks. Two people who get married with every good intention, and then one of them (usually the woman) says "I don't want to be married anymore."

Gag. Don't trust anybody as far as you can throw 'em. The promise "I swear" doesn't mean anything anymore.

Kick 'em in the butt when they turn around to leave. It's fun being vicious back sometimes. Kind of like a shield.

Hope you told that chick where she could stuff it for setting you up. If you did, you probably saved some guy down the line some pain.

You know how they have those T-shirts that middle school girls wear that say "Boys Stink" (or some such). They ought to make one that says "Girls Are Scum." Hmmm...I may start a line of those at Cafe Press.

9:29 AM  

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