Getting Along

”Nothing is what it seems… I’m not even what I seem.”

She wails it with such self-involved pathos it would be funny if it was in a movie and I was just a spectator. I could enjoy the absurd black comedy of it, knowing that this heart-wrenching revelation was ludicrously shallow and would soon be forgotten. I could almost see her inner manipulator smirking at me behind the tears, checking me out with sidelong glances, appraising how this performance was going over. I imagined playing my own part in this fine parlor drama, an older and wiser friend with kind and honest words to offer…

“Well don’t feel alone,” I would have said. “It’s a healthy sign of maturity when the magnitude of your deceit in every aspect of your interpersonal relationships blows up in your face like an inflatable birthday clown with explosives strapped to its chest.

“And hey, you’re only 37, assuming you weren’t lying about that too, and that’s actually a fairly young age to begin coming to terms with something as psychologically profound as this; the deeper question of beingness, of self knowledge, of the nature and meaning of human existence, of the oppressive constraints of social conditioning. Lots of people don’t get there until much later in life.

“In fact, some people never give it a thought until they are terminally ill and are trying to come up with a repentance card to play in the final hand of heaven-or-hell poker… figuring, I guess, that a confession of their life-long charade ought to be worth something, and even if this contrite admission isn’t sincere, they’ve been getting away with pretense for so long, they might have a decent chance of fooling even God.

“Come to think of it, some people skip it altogether and remain in character, so to speak, right up to the end. Beyond even! Lying in their coffins with their lips sewn shut just in case they might inadvertently speak from the grave, seeing from their newly disembodied perspective the opportunity they missed to live an authentic life instead of being a robot, and thus tempted to reveal the greatest spoiler of all time, not to mention ruining the fond memories they so pathetically believe the living have of them.

“Don’t beat yourself up about this,” I would have said. “It’s magnificent you are willing to confront the hard truth about the mockery of life, the farce you have been living all these 37 years, assuming you weren’t lying about that.

“And don’t think anything is going to change just because you have recognized it. Oh no! You will go on as you are, being what a repressive culture dedicated to self-loathing disguised as self-fulfillment has made of you; a poignant example of a woman betrayed by her own willingness, grasping desperately for undeserved dignity.

“Like, you’re just now catching on?” I would have said, laughing cruelly. “I’m deeply moved by this display of angst. Welcome to the living hell of everyday life! Woe unto you if you should actually change and begin to live and speak and–unthinkable!–even think for yourself. Your family, your employer, your coworkers, nay even your so-called friends will scorn, rebuff and reject you. You will be ostracized from every common, refused at every gathering place, denied even the pittance of succor to be had from frail human fellowship.

“Don’t do this thing!” I would have said. “Do you want to end up, as I have ended up, embittered and alone? Trapped in my own knowledge of terrible TRUTH! Tormented by my own failure! Seeking poor refuge in sarcastic critique!

“Oh Ye Gods… would that I forget myself in such pleasant diversions that soothe the souls of others, and play my part in sweet unknowingness as they! Would that I might be as beast, grazing in contented fields until the day of slaughter.”

Instead I say, “Is this about your boyfriend?”

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