Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Duck and Cover

Often the best plans work out serendipitously. Last night, my friend and I made a last minute mad dash for our favorite mahogany watering hole for champagne, and what always turns out to be ear bending conversations for the eavesdroppers around us. The bartender would no doubt report that last night’s musings did not disappoint.

There is always a point in our conversation where I threaten to use a line of hers as a Facebook status. Her witticisms are among the best I have ever heard and last night’s implication along the lines of ‘If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably not a cat’ was a favorite. It isn’t so much that her spin on the maxim was so clever; it was the context in which she cautiously used it to illustrate a gaping hole in my reasoning.

We have a code word we use to clue the other one in to the fact that they are venturing onto thin ice. The ability to deliver harsh reality and truth among best friends is something to count on and cherish, but there are times when our vulnerabilities are too close to the surface and our armor is too thin and then it is best to cut the dose in half or hold back altogether. She and I pull the ‘eggshell card’ in these instances. But last night, and with the benefit of a nice dry champagne, I gave her an eggshell pass and let the insight fly!

I won’t address the context of our conversation as what happens within those mahogany walls, stays within the mahogany walls, but I will say her point was that perhaps life was once again showing me that people are who they are and it is a great time saver to believe them when they first show us their true colors. On the subject of dating, Elizabeth Gilbert says in Eat, Pray, Love “I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism."

I find irresistible the self-exploration and honesty of that proclamation and find it applicable in any number of circumstances. We want to see the best in those who share our air. Being a victim of one’s own optimism is a cruel affliction because it has its roots in goodness, compassion and empathy. If wielded against us, these blindside hits sting like a whip to sunburn. The hidden agendas of others masked by pretty words are no more truth then the foreign object floating in my wine glass is a grape stem, but still we cling to the hope that everyone will mean what they say and do what they promise. The optimism of youth promises transformation and growth and idealism. The wisdom of age poignantly says, “See that thing waddling over there? It’s a duck.” Quack.

1 comment:

Katie Gates said...

So true, so true. I realized, at the end of my first -- and so far only -- marriage that potential indeed has a shelf life. You may enjoy this post I did last July:
To date, it's generated more comments than any other post on my blog.