that guy

Prompt: A family member you dislike

Ahaha haha ha … there’s only one person in my family I really dislike. That guy.

Ah, that guy.

I’ve known him for 18 years. The last time I saw him was, what, 7 years ago? I think? I expect the next time I’ll see him will be at a family funeral or wedding. I actually kind of avoid a lot of extended family gatherings, knowing he’ll probably be there. I mean, it’s not the sole reason, but it’s definitely in the top 10–under travel costs and lodging concerns and vacation time and I don’t like to travel alone.

I started to write out this long entry detailing my interactions with that guy over the years–I seriously cannot think of one positive interaction I’ve ever had with him–but it just made me sad and angry. It was super depressing because whenever he pops up in my life, he’s just this unremittingly awful presence, and I prefer not to think about him at all because it’s so negative.

It’s funny. I imagine from the perspective of that guy things probably look very different. I’ve heard versions of his perspective, relayed third-party from people who spend more time with them; from his wife; from my own interactions and conversations with him. I can layer the different slices of story on top of one another, like variously-colored slides of a photograph, and get an idea of his worldview. The way he sees things, the way he see me.

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Let’s just say, we definitely see the world through different lenses. I suspect he thinks I am too opinionated, too angry, too unwilling to follow the wisdom of those I should–like the church elders, or priesthood leaders. Like him.

Actually, I don’t think he’s necessarily alone in that opinion. I get the impression a lot of people wish I would be less … vocal. That I would set fewer “politically correct” boundaries on behavior, or be willing to let more “silly” offenses slide. That I would be more conciliatory, more passive. That I be more ladylike, I guess.

Anyway, I think it’s fascinating, because all my slices of that guy are bad. Like, every single one. His conversation is dull, his worldview his offensive, his jokes are dumb, and his advice is just … ugh. Do the opposite. I honestly do not understand how anyone can stand to be around him for more than 15 minutes voluntarily, and haven’t since the first time I met him.

But for someone else, he’s got redeeming qualities that make him worth loving. For someone else, the good outweighs the bad on a regular basis. There are people who like him, love him, and even respect him. think he’s an awful joke of a human being, but there are people who think he’s pretty cool.

What’s interesting to think about is that I’m that person to someone out there. We all are. I think that’s kind of fascinating. Like, my husband and my best friend and my son and my loved ones might think I’m pretty cool. They enjoy spending time with me. They think my goods outweigh my bads.

But there is probably someone out there who could write up an entry detailing every single interaction they’ve had with me, and each entry would be, “Man she is such a bitch. I hate her face.”

Don’t believe me? Check out Mother Teresa. She is both loved and reviled–seriously. Even Ghandi has his detractors, people who are all like, “Yeah, Ghandi’s cool and all … but did you hear what a dick he was to his wife?”

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