Friday, June 27, 2008

A year and a half later...

Since it’s officially summertime, and I’m traveling and mooching off my parents rather than maintaining any semblance of gainful employment, I figure now is as good a time as any to start writing again. I never really stopped, but for the past year and a half, my journals have been redundant entries that boil down to two things: an increasing hatred for and impatience with MS, and a concurrent loss of hope in God. My goal is to write despite my inability to get out of this funk. Point being, if you are looking for an optimistic, feel-good-type story, you might want to read someone else’s blog.

That’s my preface.

Lately I feel like I’m chronically raining on someone else’s parade. When friends call with news of marriage, pregnancy, new children, or new jobs, I’m having a harder and harder time answering the simple question, “How are you?” See, I have a few “friends” who – without much prompting – seize the opportunity to respond to the inquiry with a 20 minute soliloquy listing each and every grievance. The maladies are subject to almost daily changes and vary in extremity – from dust allergies to suspected organ failure. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that there are people out there who are genuinely unable to successfully function as humans.

I’m worried I’m becoming one of them.

So I’m learning to dodge the question and substitute a truthful response with a story about my dog or – during the school year – about my students. Sometimes, though, a piece of truth slips out. I’m worried that with it, my stock value as a friend will decline (or, at the very least, become much, much riskier to invest in).

Last week I went to a friend’s to play poker. (Read – to give away money.) I brought my dog with me so she could burn off some energy with my friend’s dog, and in between hands, one of the guys pointed out that she could benefit from some obedience training. That my dog is prone to minor bouts of misbehavior is undisputable: ten minutes into the poker game, she had stolen the other dog’s toys and destroyed them, drank a spilled beer off the floor and launched herself onto my lap to lick my ears and chew my nose. Really though, other than her overwhelming level of excitement and her occasional stubborn streak, she’s a pretty good dog. Especially since she’s still (sort of) a puppy.

Excuses aside, I acknowledged her misbehavior and – while laughing – added, “If I didn’t have that dog to feed, though, I’d definitely have killed myself by now!” I then realized that efforts at levity while alluding to suicide just aren’t funny. Especially since – even though they’re guys and thus generally oblivious to emotions – I think all four of them detected a slightly disturbing level of honesty behind my hyperbole.

I inwardly winced, awkwardly laughed and immediately changed the subject. Without further mention of my dog or suicide, the five of us continued our poker game.


camilynn said...


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Mike P. said...

I call that experimental humor. Which just means a joke that didn't work. Ever try to make up a dead baby joke on the fly? Not a good idea. So long as you realize it and distance yourself from your words, I find I can usually get away with it without losing any friends.

Sometimes people that don't know you won't drop it, but you can't please everyone. Especially if you are going to engage in experimental humor.

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