A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

31 July 2007


I spoke at the post below of how the loss of a friendship can reduce me to rubble.

In a year spent in this Valley of the Sunshine of Life I have gathered perhaps three or four friendships I feel confident in. Perhaps I'm too selective; many potential friendships wither on the vine.

But some implode. And when they do, it hurts in a way nothing else quite does.

Shall we call her Mandela Warner? Mandy for short. I mentioned Mandy in an earlier post, without naming her. Words like "brilliant" and "luminous" were used. She's quite beautiful, and has a quirky sense of humour. I think she's a genius.

I had the opportunity and privilege of watching her light up the stage. I was ... I think "awed" might not be too strong a word. And a little envious. This woman is taking a career path that I was never bold enough to follow. There is no doubt we will see her in films within two years. I cannot convey to you the effect that interacting with her at any level had on me.

I can't.

I know because I've tried, and everyone seems to think I've got some sort of mid-life-crisis hard-on for a woman half my age. And I sure as hell wish that were the case. Pure lust is easy to deal with. Not so this strange ... whatever it is.

Mandy is a particularly accomplished writer and actor, and recently had a play produced at a local community theatre.

Now to refer to Winterfly's stage as "community theatre" is not to do it justice. It's a very professional facility, and the main source of theatrical entertainment for thousands. So getting a play onstage there is a significant acheivement.

Mme Metro and I attended opening night. How was the play, you ask? Well ... and there's the rub. If I am to be honest, and O Avid Fan can I be anything else? To my friends and Avid Fans, the truth always ... the word I'd use is "uneven."

The play began as a very funny farce. The word some people in the audience used was "relentless". The jokes were thick and fast, and some wished there'd been a bit more dramatic space between them. The characters were well-drawn, the cast was generally excellent, and the premise intriguing.

The second act ascended through farce into surrealism. The ending felt abrupt to me--as though having gotten the characters into an untenable situation, Mandy had had to find them a way out, deus ex machina.

However, let me be clear: I saw nothing in the play that was not admirable in some sense. And I never once questioned the value of the work, nor its right to be staged. It was brave and it was bold. Moreover, I caught glints of rich subtext. I'm not sure it was intended, but there were a couple of unifying threads that travelled brilliantly through the play.

So I enjoyed it. Remember that.

O Avid Fan, I am sometimes very stupid: Upon arriving home, I wrote to Mandy, including my opinion of the play. What I should have written was "I enjoyed the play. Congratulations on your achievement." Instead, I gave feedback. Honest and facilitative ... I thought.

I'll spare myself the embarrasment of quoting the drivel I wrote. What the hell was I thinking?

In the clear light a few days later the message sounded haughty, supercillious, and downright rude. But most of all, it was just totally inappropriate and wrong for the occasion.

After three days of cold silence I wrote an apology. It's now been over two weeks. Ladies and gentlemen, I think I've £µ©λed this one up for good and all.

I never thought this would become anything more than a pleasant friendship, but it's considerably less now. Worse yet, I have no idea why it matters; why a little bit of something good seems to have gone from my life.

Still. It hurts.

Update: Mme Metro, who has graciously and for the most part patiently nursed me through this with only minimal complaint, has pointed out that a 20-something who finds a near-fortysomething acting friendly toward her might be thinking "stalker". I could hope for such a simple misunderstanding.


At 9:53 a.m., Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Hmmmmm...sometimes it's good to write the email, but perhaps wait a day or two before sending it...just so you can gain some perspective. Sorry this has happened though, but you were well-intended, I believe, so don't be too hard on yourself.

At 11:26 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Oh it was worse than that. I carefully crafted the message to be as facilitative as possible, and still wound up sounding like a pontificating prat.

That's alright for the blog, I suppose, occasionally, but at the truly interpersonal level I needed to be better-expressed.

At 5:57 a.m., Anonymous azahar said...

As you probably recall, the lovely Mme Metro recently posted a link to an article called 10 ways to improve your life. While I was reading this post one point came to mind (especially the second aspect of it)...

Stop jumping to conclusions. There are two common ways this habit increases people’s difficulties. First, they assume that they know what is going to happen, so they stop paying attention and act on their assumption instead. Human beings are lousy fortune-tellers. Most of what they assume is wrong. That makes the action wrong too. The second aspect of this habit is playing the mind-reader and assuming you know why people do what they do or what they’re thinking. Wrong again, big time. More relationships are destroyed by this particular kind of stupidity than by any other.

Basically, you will probably never know why she hasn't responded to your previous offers of friendship or to this latest email, so best to stop wondering and making things up that only make you feel miserable.

For what it's worth, my take on the situation (based on limited knowledge of it, it must be said) is that perhaps what you admired so strongly in her were elements of your own younger self. Sorry if that comes across as dime-store psychology, it's just a thought. Do you think there's anything in it?

At 6:08 a.m., Anonymous azahar said...

Oh, and I'm no doubt stating the obvious here, but also take a moment to REALLY appreciate the support and understanding Mme Metro has shown you through this personal crisis.

If Nog ever started obsessing about some 20-something chica he'd met I'd have felt way too threatened to be even remotely supportive. Though having said that, you and Nog seem to be very different sorts of personalities so if this ever did happen at casa az I probably would have something quite serious to worry about.

Still, it has to be said that you have one helluva woman there loving you and watching your back.

At 12:44 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

I think I haven't actually jumped to a conclusion on this: rather, I've remembered the primary aspect of interpersonal communication.

You cannot NOT communicate.

At worst, you can be ambiguous. In this case, given that following my message and apology I have heard nada I can only think:

a) She's simply so busy she has had no time to reply. Even to the apology, which it seems to me should be only courtesy.

b) She loathes me to the depths of her being and will shortly punt me off her e-mail list and similar contacts.

c) I have offended her extremely, but she thinks that there might be something worth having, despite all.

d) It all matters so little to her that she's quite capable of ignoring the situation (I favour this one, really).

Quite a neat little way for me to wind up quietly unable to jump in ANY direction. Because as I learned in the army: no matter how $#!77y the situation, you can always make it worse, even by doing nothing.

But I'm working it through now. It's still unpleasant and apt to catch me at daft moments, but it's down to a dull ache.

And yes, I am full of appreciation for Mme, for her patience and tolerance through a time I found stupidly stressful. Her advice generally consisted of the sentiments in the video post above this one.

But there was never any threat to us, or to our marriage. It's dammned difficult explaining that to people. I wasn't in love with her. Didn't want to run away with her. Wasn't going to throw away everything Mme and I have striven for.

Not that I necessarily could have been a good scout had she cornered me in a phone booth with a bottle of massage oil, but that truly wasn't what it was about. And the possibility was over the ridiculous horizon.

I just ... wanted to be there? Wanted to watch her go? Something like that.

At 2:27 p.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Bonsoir, Mon ami

Je sympathise ... et je comprends

aber it vill work out pur la beste

You still have a long way to go pur apprehender le prise de le grandissomo drongo de prat pontificant from l'aigle gris

Mais sonts les dames beyond praise est la Mme Metro et Mrs Eagle !!!

Le vestre servant obedient etc

G von Adler

At 10:13 p.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

The giving of honest opinions where they were not solicited has been the end of many a beautiful friendship.

I've ended enough myself to know.

Maybe one day you'll be in the position of helping the ingenue in question, but until that time, you must deal with the deserved frost.

At 7:48 p.m., Anonymous PJ said...

Could be anything. Her computer has been packed in a box for 2 weeks (as mine was). Or it's in the shop. Or she thought, "Hmmmm, I'll have to reply to that when I have time to craft a thoughtful reply" and then forgot to. Or started to, then got bad news about a family member, which drove it out of her mind. Azahar is dead on, saying not to jump to conclusions. You have no evidence of any of the possible scenarios. Don't be so hard on yourself -- nobody could loathe you.


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