Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's not you, it's me.

Last Tuesday I went grocery shopping.

I was standing in an aisle in front of the spices, searching in vain for Chinese Five Spice, when I heard someone yell from the other end of the aisle.

“Hey!” He shouted.

I looked over, in case he was talking to me.

“Hey Phillip! Karen!”

I looked behind me to see two people looking at the selection of barbecue sauces.

The guy came over, and all three of them started talking. They obviously knew each other. The guy who yelled from across the store (it turns out his name was Austin) was obviously fairly close to these people. He asked about their kids, how work was going…you know, the usual boring stuff.

At this point I stopped listening, and continued my futile search for what I needed for the stir-fry I’d been craving for months.

It was only when Austin wheeled his cart back down the aisle that something sparked my interest again. It went something like this:

“Well, it was great seeing you two again. Gimme a call and we’ll do something.”

“Sure thing, Austin, see ya later.”

He wheeled his cart back down the aisle, and the very second he was out of earshot, Karen and Phillip’s smiles vanished like an inquisitive ferret in a lion cage. I heard Karen mutter to Phillip:

“God, that guy is such a dick!”

“Phhht! I know.”

At the time I just thought it was a little funny. It was only last night, as I was lying in bed that the sheer weight of this event actually struck me.

We lie to each other all the freaking time, and the sad part is that we actually need to in order for society to function.

I’m not one for paranoia, but it really did make me think about what people say about me when I’m not around. Maybe some of the people I said goodbye to when I left England, the people I sometimes miss were actually glad to see me go.

For all I know, half the people who I worked with, the same people who signed my Bon Voyage card, went out on the town for a drink with me, gave me a hug and wished me the best of luck, said “God that guy is such a dick!” when I got into the taxi home.

It’s weird because we’ll never know what people actually think about us.

I mean, I’m a pretty straight forward guy, and if I think you’re a dick, I’ll say it to your face, but on the other hand I’ve had ‘friends’ in the past who I was only friends with because no-one else would be. On the one hand, I thought I was doing a nice thing, but I have to ask myself…What would these people think if they knew I only hung around with them at school because I felt sorry for them?

Probably not great.

I suppose the biggest question here is that if you could somehow know what everyone really thinks of you, would you want to know?

I mean, as far as Austin knows, he and Karen and Phillip are friends. From their conversation they knew too much about each other to just be casual acquaintances. What would he do if he knew the entire time he was talking both of them were just nodding politely, waiting for him to go away?

It’s a natural feeling to want to know what people really think about you, but I think for the most part, finding out would be a mistake.

Imagine if we all woke up tomorrow, and suddenly found we could all hear what everyone else was thinking. The Boss finds out that his ‘dedicated staff who worship him like a God’ all actually think he’s a total douchebag. The smitten teenager finds out his girlfriend is only going out with him until someone better comes along…and Little Timmy discovers that despite everything his parents have said, they really do have a favorite…and it’s not him (I’m not saying that a parent will love one child more than another, but I’m pretty certain they’ll think one is funnier, easier to get along with and has more potential than the other).

It’s a weird situation. We’re all brought up to believe that the truth is always preferable to lies and we all agree that lying is a Bad Thing…yet without those lies, our entire society would just crumble. I’m not exaggerating here. Just think about it.

Everybody lies, most of the time it’s in order to protect other people’s feelings. You tell someone you’re breaking up with that you ‘need space’ or ‘it’s not you it’s me’. No one’s going to look their boyfriend or girlfriend in the face and say “We should break up, I’ve realized that you only look pretty because you’re caked in makeup, you’re boring as hell, and I think I can do a lot better.”

The weirdest thing is that everyone does this, whether pretending to like someone more than you actually do, or lying to protect someone’s feelings…but everyone assumes that no one else is doing the same to them. Sisters A and B get together and bitch about sister C. Then Sisters A and C get together and bitch about sister B…yet, sister A never considers for a second that the other two will bitch about her when she’s not around.

It’s odd…very odd.

1 comment:

manda said...

Am I supposed to be "sister A". Because I know I'm talked about. That's why I am paranoid, but I like to think of it as a realist. I know I can talk trash, but I know as soon as I turn my back, someone's talking. That's part of why I don't trust people. And with my sisters, a lot of the shit talked about, is .. at least eventually, said to each other's face.

That's why when people tell me to call them, I don't. When people tell me to do something, I don't, because 95% of the time I don't think they mean it.