We’re in the business of judgment here, but it’s not all because we’re self obsessed, or bored, or whatever other excuses people who are judging others for judging come up with. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes we’re judging people for our own protection. A wise person on a reality television show(!) once said “Expectations in relationships are premeditated resentments”. Believe me that’s not the kind of insight I’m looking for on a Sunday morning when I just want to lay around and digest the banana bread french toast with peanut butter I shouldn’t have made or finished but it’s too late now, can’t escape those delicious calories or that stinging one liner.
|It was literally the only thing on TV, I swear. Every other channel was broken.|
As I soaked in other peoples’ pseudo-therapy and the wisdom (or results of a Google search for “therapy phrases”) therein, I thought about the way that we here at Mind Meld struggle heroically to keep ourselves from having expectations of people, because they obviously can’t actually be relied upon. Isn’t it always the case that people pleasantly surprise you by doing silly things like “being there” or “telling the truth” or “bringing you breakfast in bed” until your car/dog/grandfather dies and they decide you’re not fun anymore and then vanish and before you can turn around they’re in Aruba getting married to some trick they always insisted was too stupid to breathe consistently without putting sustained thought into it? Oh, just me? Great.
We’ve discovered the key to avoiding situations like that is to choose one of the following options:
1) Completely avoid all people, all the time (ideal, but nearly impossible)
2) Avoid meaningful relationships, cultivate shallow ones like the weeds that they are (one of us is really good at this)
3) Attempt to have meaningful relationships, but refuse to be surprised when they fuck up and instead just bundle them into a mental box put them on a list. (one of us tries to do this and occasionally succeeds).
|He gets us.|
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one person to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another, it is only right that they go on a list. (Thomas Jefferson, if you’re reading this, I really think you should have said “bonds” not “bands”, it would have worked much better for me, and would have been just as touching and powerful). So Paul and I were eating lunch a couple of weeks ago, and I said “Ugh, he’s on my list. Isn’t he on your list?” Clearly looking for a “Yes, obviously, your judgment is impeccable and we are one in all things”. What I got was a fairly blank stare followed by a “List? Like is he one my shit list? No, I wouldn’t say that.”
A: Well he’s definitely on my shit list.
P: Wow, that’s pretty harsh.
A: What do you mean?
P: I just wouldn’t say that he’s that terrible. I mean yeah, that’s really annoying but I don’t think it warrants shit list.
A: What are you talking about? Do you even know what a shit list is? It’s not like he’s on the blacklist!
P: What is the black list? What are you talking about?
A: It’s like worse than shit list, but not quite “dead to me”. Like McCarthy era, you’ll never work in this town again, but not like FBI hit list.
P: Ok, what are all these lists? What’s the actual hierarchy? I need examples.
A lunch hour and a half later, we came up with Definitive Guide to Categorizing the People In Your Life Who Suck (All of Them), and it only took four categories! For your personal use:
Fallen Out of Favor: This list is reserved for the people in your life who you thought were okay, but have been mildly fucking up lately. The Overzealous Hire, who was a fun, young, breath of fresh air until she started inserting her rock climbing/hot yoga/art gallery trips into every goddamn conversation. Your co-worker who became pen pals with a convicted rapist. Your going-to-the- bar-is-the-extent-of-our-friendship friend who thinks sea otters eat nuts (like almonds! Honestly...).
|"We are not amused."|
These people have irritated you lately, but give them a few days and they’ll probably be fine. Maybe you just need to spend less time with them. Maybe after your ill conceived and ill timed diet week is over you’ll be less grumpy about their bullshit. But maybe (likely) it’s not on you. Maybe they’re just really shitty, and are going to continue to make their way down to...
The Shit List: This is the list people mean when they say “You’re on my list!” (Did no one else’s mother do this constantly?! How embarrassing for me). These people have moved past Fallen Out of Favor, and have been consistently ruining your day for awhile now. Your roommate who used the rest of your shampoo, and this is after she left ALL of her breakfast dishes just SITTING AGAIN, the fucking dishwasher is RIGHT THERE, and it makes your parents think that your apartment smells terrible and you’re an irresponsible child. And she and her boyfriend had that fight last night that kept you up the night before a final exam, whyyyy did you ever agree to live with her? These are the people whose constant habit of disappointing you is starting to get boring. You start saying “Of course...” in a tired voice. They could recover at some point, clamber their way out of this Shit List Pits and hike through the dense woods of Fallen Out of Favor Forest, managing to ascend the twin peaks of Respect and Love in the elusive Esteem Mountain Range. But more likely they’re working their way into the Valley of...
The Blacklist: These people are never coming back from what they’ve done. Maybe you’ll still speak to them when forced, maybe you even maintain the illusion of an acquaintanceship in the interest of politeness (happens to all of us), you may even forgive. But you will never forget.
Maybe they were supposed to be your best friend and they fucked your love interest. Maybe they just couldn’t promise that they wouldn’t, given the chance.
|Maybe they told you that if you convinced your father to confess, he would just be sent to the Wall, but they beheaded him instead.|
Regardless, they suck. They’re never allowed back in the inner circle, no matter what they do. You can’t trust them, you’ve learned your lesson. Maybe you had to be burned a few times, maybe more like six hundred times, but you’re done. You just keep them at a distance, they’re not like those other people. Those people are...
Dead to Me: I think most reasonable people have at least one person in their lives that deserve this designation. These people killed thirteen puppies in cold blood. They lied to you for months, they cheated on you and then dropped off the stuff you had in their apartment with a pair of the new girl’s panties wrapped around your toothbrush, as if you would have ever used it again anyway. You’re not necessarily out to murder them, but you wouldn’t save them at even a minor inconvenience to yourself. In fact, you might go out of your way to NOT save them. Your family and friends know better than to mention their name in your presence, because they fucked up HARD. You’ll never speak to them, you’ll never acknowledge them, they’re dead to you.
There’s your weekly window into my head! Feel free to vent if you’ve got anyone along the spectrum that’s killing you lately, and if anyone wants to develop a Levels of Anya’s Regard boardgame with the pits/forest/mountains, I’m totally interested.