I Hope He Laughs December 23, 2015Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, People.
We have a neighbor who loves to play the labeling game.
His view of the world is the only view of the world.
People who don’t share his perspective (like me!) are judged, labeled, and cubby-holed.
There is no room for gray in his life.
* When he realized I did not embrace Rush Limbaugh as a modern day sage and savior, he called me a “brainwashed, socialist, communist, liberal sympathizer.”
You know . . .
* When he ranted about “short-sighted and misguided” environmentalists who block progress by opposing drilling for oil and gas in pristine wilderness areas, I tried to share a few thoughts on the benefits of sustainable and renewable energy sources ~ like wind and solar.
He interrupted with a snort and informed me I was “living in a dream world” and “needed to get my facts straight” because sun and wind cannot provide the energy we need “to keep moving forward.”
He then added, free of charge, that he hated debating issues of importance with people who argue from an emotional frame of reference rather than from an intellectual point of view.
Did he just call me stupid???
One night at a wine tasting, he and I were seated at a table for eight when someone I’d met that evening asked me, “What do you write?”
Not wanting to get bogged down in particulars, I tossed out, “Oh, lots of things ~ poems, essays, several unfinished novels . . .”
At that point, our neighbor jumped in with a gleeful pronouncement, “You have ADHD!”
Startled at his outburst, I replied, “No, I don’t . . .”
“Yes, you do! You just said that you didn’t finish a project that you started!”
“So? Not finishing a novel doesn’t mean I have ADHD. I have no problem concentrating for sustained periods . . .”
“Then WHY didn’t you finish those novels?”
“Because I didn’t want to.”
“BECAUSE YOU HAVE ADHD!”
Without abandoning his initial hypothesis, he switched gears, “Why are you getting so defensive? I was just being funny.”
I looked around the table and saw several mouths agape. “Really? How come no one is laughing?”
“Because YOU ruined the party for everyone by becoming defensive for no reason.”
“And what was the alternative? Letting you put words in my mouth and yet another label on my forehead?”
“No, you could have just laughed. Your problem is that you don’t have a sense of humor. You need to lighten up and stop being so serious.”
“If you wanted me to laugh, you should have said something funny.”
Taken aback, he sputtered, “Well, this is a free country and I can say whatever I want . . .”
“Duly noted. But, since this is a free country, we don’t have to laugh on cue.”
At that point, his wife intervened and suggested we change the subject.
I nodded my agreement.
Seeing no one jumping to his defense, our freedom-loving friend switched from FIGHT to FLIGHT and beat a hasty retreat from the restaurant, his wife trailing behind.
I apologized to the rest of the table, amid a chorus of “YOU have nothing to apologize for.”
Hmm . . .
While I appreciated the show of support, it takes two to tango and I did my part to keep the dance moving in a downward spiral.
I could, of course, muster all sorts of justification for the barbs I’d tossed his way. I could rationalize that he is a bully used to getting his own way, and that fighting back was the “right” thing to do.
But I won’t.
Because I saw his face as he was leaving the restaurant.
The sadness registered there made me wish I had just laughed at his initial “ADHD label” rather than engaging in a pointless debate about “nothing.”
Oh, well, live and learn.
I’ve added him to my Christmas Gift List and I know exactly what to get him . . . a Dymo label-maker!
I hope he laughs.
Aah . . . that’s better!