house cleaning

When I get pissed off I give it 12-15 hours to see if it sticks.

Guess what? It did.

Sometimes when we meet someone they bring out the best in us. Good friends and husbands and boyfriends and sometimes it's just for a moment in time - an exchange at the grocery store from which you walk away with a gigantic, stupid grin on your face. Feeling good. They make you feel good. They make you the best of who you are.

And then there are the Others.

This Acquaintance at the gym, (well stronger than that, but I don't really want to identify him) is one such person. He brings out the oddest quality in me. I become this other person that I don't really like - an insecure, self-absorbed person (not that I'm not plenty self-absorbed, but I am able to keep a lid on it at least some of the time) and I chatter incessantly at him... which I loathe nearly as much as I loathe springtime in Colorado. But I keep trying with him, due to social circumstances.

Well, I suspected, deep down I guess, but I never really thought about it, that I had reason to feel insecure with him. For one, he can't take teasing. And he's just got a little air of superiority, of false knowing, which generally indicates something amiss. Dangerous! my instinct cried out, but it was a wee cry, so I ignored it. I mean, on the surface he's a nice guy, we got some shit in common, PHF likes him. He's not Big Scary Guy. He's not Athletic Guy With The Abnormally Huge Triceps. He's not a scammer, so we overlook these signs, right?

By now you're wondering what happened. It was minor; laughable, really, but it confirmed my instinct.

Longtime readers will recall Old Guy at the gym. He's friendly enough, and in decent shape, but he had that sort of creepy-looky thing going on. It bugged me, more than most. But we exchanged names not long ago, settled into comfortable nods of greeting, and he's quit the gawking, so that's cool.

Well, Old Guy and Acquaintance are buddies, and they chat. I see Old Guy nearly every day, I see Acquaintance perhaps once a week. They chat pretty often, and there's been this weird bad timing thing where I tend to interrupt them to say hi to Acquaintance. I hover a bit (if anyone understands body space it's me - I hate having mine invaded) and right away Acquaintance acknowledges me and I usually just have some tidbit or question. I don't have control over this little social indescretion for some reason. It's a trick of timing, the minorist of twists of fate, or Tad The Social God is laughing his ass off at playing me. I can't help it - it's just worked out this way. I know it's come off as rude, and I know I appear to blow off Old Guy, even when practically face to face. I must admit that I wrote off Old Guy a long time ago; something about him just bugged me, and I don't waste much time with people I've written off. It's an awful quality, but there you are. I don't really like to talk to people anyway; not people that I don't know.

One of the reasons I don't like to talk to them much is that I'm cursed with a heightened body language perception. Most people I can read pretty well - I catch nuances of their intent and thought. It's really strong with those I don't know because I don't have all those things I know about them cluttering my perception. Many people who know me wouldn't know that I am as perceptive as I am because I manage to ignore it pretty well. Well, not ignore, really, but what do you do mid-conversation when you realize that the person is irritated or bored or whatever? It's rude to just go, mid-sentence: "Ok, well you're bored, so bye." And then turn heel and walk off. So I get the info, but I try to behave gracefully with it and extricate myself when it seems socially apt.

But because of this heightened perception I rarely miss a joke that's played on me. Again, not that some would know - I'm an accomplished liar, right? I can do poker face when it means saving face. And I can take a joke, I can take teasing, but I've said before if I sense meanness I can react pretty strongly emotionally. It doesn't happen very often, but I'm quite good at detecting cruelty when it rears its ugly head.

So I knew what was happening yesterday when I was talking to Acquaintance and Old Guy came up and interrupted and they purposefully excluded me from the conversation. I caught on to what they were doing. I even caught on that they had planned it beforehand. There were oh-so-subtle glances my way and at each other, and Acquaintance stiffened; just barely, but it happened. I could see it.

I always can.

They might have thought it was funny, a joke, but it reeked of that minor cruelty that tends to set me off. Acqaintance's slight discomfort told me that. And it told me that yes, the danger warning was true. There it is. He's capable of cruelty. In fact, I'd venture that perhaps he's not capable of another kind of joke but the cruel kind. After all, he can't take teasing. Should have listened to my instinct at the beginning; because where minor cruelty lives, major cruelty can often linger.

So, now I've written off both of them. Acquaintance isn't as perceptive as I am (though he clearly thinks he is) so it will take a few times of me walking on by without stopping to chat. But he'll figure it out eventually. He'll shrug it off, but it will bug him. I know his type well enough. It will bug him. As for Old Guy, he'll catch on quicker and he's the type to be over-friendly to make it up, but then we weren't going to be friends anyway. I don't plan on getting into it; explaining my new coolness even if asked; because I've written them off. I don't waste time with people I've written off.

I've got lots of friends, more than I can keep up with comfortably. I don't need any more, not really. I can afford to be selective.

And I've already got two children at home. I sure as hell don't need any more of them in my life.

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