NEVER APOLOGIZE, NEVER EXPLAIN. EXCEPT SOMETIME
I realize that in the greater scheme of things, my having missed a deadline is NOT a big deal. However, to me it is a mortal sin. ONE JUST DOESN’T. Rather like the mail…a promised BLOG must go through. And in December, I failed to do that. I’m sorry.
I realize too, that there is the remote possibility that you, the reader here, might not even have missed the December BLOG, consumed as you were by your own happenings. However, I prefer to assume that, like me, you missed my writing tremendously. I will proceed from there.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
It happened many years ago. I wasn’t intentionally listening in on someone else’s conversation, it just happened that two of my offspring, Celia and John, were discussing an upcoming Christmas dinner. Actually, they were helping me get ready for a party of 10. They were arguing about the proper placement of the three forks: salad, dessert, dinner…or salad, dinner dessert?
Celia suggested that it really didn’t matter all that much and they should just get on with the job when John came up with this piece of wisdom.
“Whoa. This is Mom we’re talking about. You know she isn’t happy if the table doesn’t look as beautiful as a Van Gogh. She demands perfection.” Celia agreed and they set out to make it happen.
Back in the kitchen, I glowed. That sounded pretty much like what I thought about me too.
Many, many years later, I was listening to that same discussion on the radio, only this time it was Danny, discussing dinner parties and table settings with a guest on his show. The lady -sorry I forget who she was – was saying how important a beautiful table is to setting the mood for the party. Danny disagreed.
“We had GREAT parties at my house,” he said, “and my Mom never cared about stuff like matching china and the proper fork!”
How could that happen? Really? How could one’s children, all raised in the same general time frame have such disparate opinions of their mother? And at least one of them. be so wrong!
I’d always been pretty secure in who I was and how I fit in to the scheme of things. I KNEW I would never use paper plates and throw- away cups for wine. Yet here was one of my kids telling the radio world that I really didn’t give a damn about that sort of thing?
It set me to wondering: If your own children have this kind of split, how many versions of you are there out there in your world? And how close is anyone to really knowing you.
For that matter, how well do you know yourself?
Needless to explain – (so why am I about to?) I have ruminated on this for many years, and just a couple of years ago, the subject came up when I was visiting some friends in Philadelphia.
Among the many who were important to me, there was one outstanding exception. This was a guy who showed up everywhere, determined to be a major part of all activity and loudly resentful if he wasn’t included in ALL plans. But the plans never suited him until he had argued everyone in to going to THE one restaurant that HE chose, arranged for someone else to drive, and just generally run the whole event to please himself, with, as far as I could tell, not the slightest notion that – just maybe- he should consider what others want.
On one occasion I was alone with this man and he was talking about his family. Particularly he was talking about his brother, Francis, who, according to my not quite friend, was a selfish, egocentric, man who never gave anyone else a thought.
“Of course” said this almost friend (I’ll call him William because that’s not his name) “I was always known as the empathetic, caring, thoughtful one in my family.” I took a close look at him to make sure he wasn’t being purposely sarcastic, but no, he meant every incredible word.
Are we all this blind to our true selves? I hope not because after all these years, I rather like my picture of me. I can be quite amazing sometimes…I’d tell you all about the wonder of me but you might find that a bit – well – intimidating.
I’m kidding…but I DO think I’m an overall pretty good lady.
So to the heart of the matter.
What do YOU think of you?
If, like the 12 Rabbis, you gathered 12 of your friends together and asked them to describe you, would you get back 13 opinions? None of them having anything to do with the person YOU think you are?
And, importantly, how close to the real you is the personality you have presented to your world? Have you hidden the temper that you barely manage to keep under control? Do you have to fight every day to make yourself go out, talk to people, be pleasant when you really want to be left alone to read a good book?
Is there a bit of the closet bigot in your makeup that you are ashamed of but which definitely exists? Do you hate people who aren’t smart enough to see things the way you do?
I’m going to suggest that ALMOST everyone is hiding a secret that scares them…something in their history that they keep from the world…except maybe from the one person they trust implicitly to keep their secret…who may not.
Another person of interest to me was a classic bubble headed blonde who seemed to need a man around her just to prove that she was a girl. It seemed possible she had never had a serious idea in her life. I knew her – or thought I did – for about 15 years.
If I tried to recreate one of our conversations, I couldn’t. She really never said anything of substance. But she was fun at a party. Always had a smile for everyone, never made a fuss. Was big in the sing-a-longs but never sang solo. All good. Happy bubble head.
And then one day we were having tea together and she put her cup down carefully looked at me sadly and said, “I’m so tired of being this happy-go-lucky dumb blonde.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say…but that seldom stops me. “Then why did you invent her?”
“I was afraid no one would like me, “ she said simply.
Now THAT’S sad. Forty years old and the only person other people know under her name is a woman she doesn’t even like.
She moved away soon after that. Said she was going some place new when she could be herself. But first she had to find out who that was. I saw her about three years later. She was a bubble headed dumb blonde with a new husband who loved to muss her hair and make jokes about some word she’d misused. “Cute” as a bug” was his description. She just smiled at me…then giggled.
So maybe that’s who she really was all along. I don’t know. I’m having trouble enough working out me.
So let me ask you? Who do you think you are” Would you recognize yourself if one of your closest friend wrote about you in a book and every body knew who she meant but you? Here’s a clue. Most people don’t.
WORD OF THE MONTH
1: an absolute or supreme ruler.
2: (in Imperial Rome) emperor
3: (in Republican Rome) a temporary title accorded a victorious general.
You may not have many occasions to use this one but I like the sound. I’ll find a way.