Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I spent Monday morning at the office, lunch and far too much of the afternoon up at my mother's (cleaning out a huge bookhelf/cabinet in the living room so that some of the family things I had brought back from my vanished studio could be put to rest in it) and rushing back down to Nowheresville for dinner, to meet the Wednesday student crowd, who were seeing one of their own off on a summer research trip to Europe. Even one of the hockey players showed, though he would neither eat pizza nor drink beer, having already spent his afternoon eating two hot dogs and drinking nineteen beers. [I am not sure that his claim was an entirely accurate count, but then, as you even approach nineteen beers, who could keep one? Not me, that's for darn tootin' sure.] The restaurant was so loud I could not hear anyone except the people sitting right next to me -- the rest of it disappeared into the general echoing din. But it was a really nice event, nonetheless; I have rarely been so grateful to be a mascot.

Bless all those little children; I hope they don't suffer for having come to me...

I went back to my car and saw that there was a message on my cell phone:

the Goat had called.

His message nearly made me cry. My heart just went out to him. He was upset, he used the same words to describe the aftermath of his meeting with the RBF as I had used to describe my reaction to my after-graduation lunch, and he was looking for comfort -- looking to me for comfort. That was pretty overpowering; I'm not sure I had ever heard him express deep emotion of any kind. It should come as no surprise that I got a lump in my throat, a lump easily twice the size of my throat. I tried to call back. I called several numbers and left messages, but he must have been in transit, because he wasn't at any of his usual numbers... so I headed for home.

He called back when I was most of the way home, and aside from the moment when I realized it was him and nearly steered into the other lane, things went pretty well. I sat out on the porch, where there is a snowball's chance in hell of a decent signal, and aside from a few minutes when I had to go inside to get another layer because the temperature was dropping, the signal was pretty good -- he only complained about my breaking up once; we must have talked for almost an hour.

The RBF had let him have it with both barrels, ticking off everything he had done wrong for the last four years -- and I have to say, I didn't particularly question the RBF's list, much as it outraged the Goat. He just doesn't get the fact that because -- since his last (apparently really devastating) heartbreak -- he has constructed a wall around himself to keep heartbreak out, he leaves the rest of the human race with all the heartbreak he won't let in. He revels in his self-sufficiency. He doesn't seem to see that for all the rhetoric of "openness," this break-up would not have come about if he hadn't found someone else and gone on at length about that someone else... that's enough to make anybody fairly crazy with jealousy and insecurity. (Seems to me.) On the other hand, he did have a point in his distaste for the RBF's penchant for keeping score -- and apparently keeping score over the long haul... four years is a long time. Not twenty-seven, but long enough.

My job, apparently, was to play Devil's Advocate and make clear to him why the RBF wasn't crazy or hostile, but human. I suppose I was pleading my own case, in a way, because I could see all too clearly where my heart and my vulnerability would be going if he couldn't see the way the world looked to the less rigorously self-sufficient... but mostly, I just wanted him to understand that much as I feel for him -- and I do really feel for him -- Christ Almighty, do I feel for him --he has to understand that he is part of the problem. Well, he said some thing things silly enough to make me roar with laughter, which always makes ME feel good, and he even claimed that I had made him feel better. It's another two weeks before he can even think about trying to fit me into his end-of-the-year schedule, so I have to take the contact I can get...

God only knows what this portends for the Goat and me. My Goat remains the Grand Master of the Ambiguous Utterance, and I'm @#$%-ed if I can figure out what he means, or rather, what most of what he says actually means for "us" [whatever that is] in the long run.

Who knew I had it in me to take on this ministry to brokenhearted men? I suppose it helps if I have an investment in their hearts... There are people out there in Blogville who know I've gotten myself into a fair amount of trouble investing in other people's troubles... and I have recently lectured other people for trying the same thing with people they have "invested" in...

It still feels like a dangerous place for me to be, given my general clumsiness, but we are all better at seeing other people's problems in perspective than they are, so maybe it's not gross malpractice to try to "straighten people out." At least, not if you really have their best interests at heart. I really do think that the basic first step toward understanding is allowing some validity to the other side: "you must give the Devil his due." I have to insist on that, or God knows I would never get mine...

Well, things keep shifting around.
And we just have to keep shifting along with them.

Hang in there, my far-flung brethren.
I do my best. You do the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment