My husband is one of those people with a million friends. Everybody knows him, everybody loves him. I am more of an acquired taste, like olives and blue cheese and Faulty Towers. I know that there are more than a few people who don’t care for my blend of liberalism, feminism and sarcasm… and I am okay with that.
I have a core group of about half a dozen people who I know will be there for me ‘no matter what’ (and who know that I will walk through fire in my bare feet for them). This base is enclosed in a slightly larger pod of ‘wine and night out’ friends that I wouldn’t share my real weight with, but who can still be trusted to keep a secret. After that, there is an outer layer of ‘social occasion’ friends that I run into at Christmas parties, kids birthdays and school events. We talk mostly about weather, gardening, youth sports, and HBO series. I like them (because at my age, I refuse to even have a conversation with someone I don’t inherently find interesting) but I don’t confide in them, or share anything that I wouldn’t be comfortable writing on a blog (ha ha).
I used to feel a bit inferior to my uber-popular hubby. After all… numbers don’t lie. If every person that enters his personal space leaves feeling like they have made a life long connection, I cannot help but feel inferior, knowing that I probably manage to offend at least 25% of the people who meet me. I don’t mean to. I just have a really low threshold for ‘stupid’ and it shows. My husband could be seated beside Vladamir Putin and at the end of the dinner, Vlad would go home and add our family to his Christmas card list. Me… put an idiot with a gas guzzling SUV and a wife named ‘Bambi’ beside me at an event and in 15 minutes he’s heading for the bathroom, never to return. I don’t have to say a word. According to my kids, I have a judgmental aura. My ‘vibe’ will tell him he is an aging, impotent wannabe who will wind up alone in an old folks home while Bambi sucks his RRSPs dry… I have no idea how my aura will convey this message… but it will!
I used to stress about this. It’s part of being a Type A. We want to be the best at everything, including socializing. It bothered me that I wasn’t a ‘tier one’ choice when it came time to choose invitees for the next dinner party. It pissed me off that my husband was out-friending me… leaving me to eat his dust in the popularity contest that is middle-class life.
Then we got Buster the schnauzer. He is a purebred. His lineage is impeccable. He also pees on my hostas and licks his private parts under the table while we are eating dinner and he could care less about public opinion. But you know what? He is a great friend to those who take the time to get to know him. Sure, he’s gonna be a little overwhelming at first; jump on you a bit; bark when you move too quickly. But he has a good heart. And those willing to persevere will find themselves enveloped in his schnauzer love. He has a core group of good friends who love him ‘no matter what’ and a slightly larger pod of ‘treat and walk’ pals that bring treats when they visit and are flattered by his desire to sniff their butt at the front door. And after that he has an outer layer of ‘I won’t bite them’ pals that he is willing to grant entry into our house, although they may have to tolerate a bit of jumping (don’t wear easily ripped fabrics).
Those that like him, like him ALOT. And those that don’t … aren’t really ‘dog’ people and were never going to like him anyway. Maybe I am the same. Those who like me, like me ALOT. And those that don’t… aren’t really “Smart Women” people anyway.
There is a lot of introspection and serve-it-straight honesty in your blog post.
I had a very strange experience in my childhood where after several years of high popularity, suddenly I found myself in a new school were things did not go nearly as smoothly. (By the way, I apologise for using this puerile example, I know that it does not mesh perfectly with your story but hopefully I will be able to turn things around by the end of this reply) So… I started to think that I had that “keep away” vibe about me or that there was something wrong with me that made people reluctant to befriend me. Then puberty hit, I moved to yet another school and to a different country just for good measure, and suddenly there I was making a new friend every day.
That’s when I got my first insight on this particular topic: it wasn’t me at all, it was the school and the kind of environment that it had fashioned that made me feel like an outsider. It was the gender-bias and the stratified society that valued money instead of brains that had made me feel like I didn’t belong.
Nonetheless, I am grateful for the experience. Being an outsider made me think like an outsider. It is probably at least in part responsible for my seclusion into reading and my ability to think like a writer and become one (after all, as writers we are all outsiders: we are able to see things others do not, because we are detached – at least in part – from the world we inhabit, and do not have the same type of stake in it that others do).
I will admit that I do make friends easily, but what I truly value are the deep friendships, those that require more of both the other person and myself than a quick exchange about paint colours over a glass of chardonnay.
People are complicated, eh? Think that’s what I love about my relationship with Buster. If I make him happy he shakes and if I annoy him he leaves the room… It’s pretty easy to grasp! Thanks for readimg amd for sharing your story with me.
I am certainly a dog-person, even though I don’t have a dog of my own (I travel too much so I feel it would’t be fair on my four-legged friend to leave them at home on their own so much). But I did have a dog in my life until a few years ago and I used to spend as much time with him as I could, taking him for walks or having him over for a few days when his owner was away on a business trip. Sadly he passed away (old age) and it was heart-breaking. I was there with him to the last. Really miss him.
I am sure that you will someday have a dog… even your style of writing says ‘dog person’ (ha ha).