Licking some old emotional wounds
Vail, CO, Colorado
Tom and I were never friends; you might say we were acquaintances.
A more apt description would be we had mutual friends. Once those friends moved away, I lost touch with Tom. I assumed he had moved as well.
So, I was a little surprised when, a year ago, he called me out of the blue and asked if we could meet for coffee. In retrospect, I’m glad it wasn’t lunch.
Though I was early, he was already waiting when I walked in. Even taking into consideration that it had been years since I last seen him, he looked different. He was always thin and sullen ” that day, he looked almost downtrodden.
I grabbed some coffee and sat down.
We made small talk for a few minutes. I asked him what he’d been doing since we last spoke. He told me he’d moved back home to Kansas several years ago. He mentioned that he some times hears me on the radio there.
I was curious why he wanted to meet with me after all this time, and I didn’t have to wait long for the answer. He said he’d been in therapy to deal with some emotional, lifestyle and anger issues that had been plaguing him since his late teens. He added that a couple of years ago he hit rock bottom and was trying to regain control of his life.
I couldn’t help but thinking: “And you are telling me this because … ?”
Tom said his therapist had suggested he contact people from his past who have had a positive impact on his life, as well as those he had misused, mistreated or betrayed.
It was then that I wished I’d ordered decaf.
Tom said he wanted me to know he’d never liked me.
I said, “OK.”
I think he wanted me to ask him why.
He went on to say that he now realizes the reason he didn’t like me had less to do with my being a jerk and more to do with the fact he didn’t like himself. He then said he still thought I rejected his gestures of friendship, and that I often exhibited a “demeanor of sarcastic arrogance.”
Tom asked: “How do you feel about what I just told you?”
I realized this was all part of my old acquaintance’s quest for an emotional cure. It was for that reason that I didn’t say how I truly felt, which might have been something along the lines of “Are you crazy?” Instead, I thanked him for his honesty told him I would give what he said some serious thought.
Later that day, I was talking to buddy of mine who has been through plenty of analysis and 12-step programs. He said part of the process is to revisit people of your past and clear the air. Now that I know that, I guess I’m happy it was therapeutic for Tom to tell me he once considered me lower than whale poop.
Tom gave me his e-mail address, thanked me for my time and left. He told me he had several other people to see before he left town.
I wonder if any of us appear to others as we see ourselves. I know I often misinterpret shyness for snobbery, insecurity for conceit and a person being busy for unfriendliness. I know I often forget to give others the benefit of the doubt I would hope they’d give me.
Perception is reality. I’d like to think that I’m not guilty of every criticism Tom heaped upon me; but in his mind I am ” or at least was. That being the case, I am guilty. I would also acknowledge Tom probably isn’t the only one who feels that way.
Alas, I think it might be too late to change either his opinion or my demeanor.
One result of my encounter with Tom was to remind me not to be so quick to judge others. None of us are exactly what we appear; I’d like to think most of us are a little nicer.
With Tom gone and that thought in mind, I got up to pay and leave. The sky was clouding up, and I hoped to sneak in a quick bike ride before I returned to work. The girl at the counter said “One large coffee is $1.75, and your friend’s latte and scone was $7.50.”
Therapy may cure many things, but apparently cheapness isn’t one of them.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.
Support Local Journalism
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User