About a week ago I had the shocking realization that I can be a vain and shallow person. Yep. I have learned that I do in fact take pleasure in other peoples’ pain. I am not, even in my silent grin, one who takes the high road. I dwell on sad truths. I forget about forgiveness.
I am so vain that I do think that song is about me. (I mean, Ben’s partner? I love Ben Affleck. I want to be Ben’s partner. Me.)
Now, mind you, I don’t like that I am a vain and shallow person; it’s not a diva quality that I’m fronting. Like a “yeah I have little depth BIOTCH. So the fuuuuuck what?” No, no. In fact I am ashamed of this newly discovered quality. I wish I were above it. That I was better. Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.
Yet my shame is not enough to deflect basking in the glory of schaudenfreude. It’s like I’m pretending to be ashamed just because it is what is expected of me to maintain a shred of human dignity. Then I try to justify it. “May I remind you that I also take pleasure in other people’s joy?” It balances out, right?
Let me digress, because I know much of this shallowness is an internal battle (i.e. not many people know why I have been giggling nightly) until now. And perhaps after I tell the tale, you can be the judge. Who knows? Maybe it’s not vain; it’s human. At least that’s the vote I’m hoping for. And if it is not the consensus then consider me shamed and I will go back to keeping my snotty thoughts to my snotty self. If the snot never leaves the nose, no one knows you’re sick.
Yeah, I just made that up.
Okay, so a couple of weeks ago my gal pals and I were talking about the joys of facebook and how it allows us to see what has happened to people we knew in our past without having the hassle of calling them or going out for an awkward lunch. And how shitty was it, we mused, that there were still those few folks who have trickled away from our lives and did not even have the decency to be on the social networking sight? What ever happened to Emmie? Or Kaitlin? Or that dude in college? Don’t fucking know, that’s what.
We all had our lists, and at the top of mine was my high school sweetheart. And I think that’s a good list topper. One should always know what happened to their first love. And my high school sweetheart was a lot of firsts for me, not to mention a lot of hindsight punchlines. (I shit you not, one time this kid had a heart shaped pizza served to me to celebrate our fifteen month anniversary. Oh and he once played a five song medley in front of my choir class called “Ali.” Oh and he made me a yoga book of himself doing yoga poses in his cycling gear and had it bound at Kinkos. Oh and our one year was a literal twelve days of Christmas Extravaganza, I could go on…)
We ended the normal high school sweetheart way. After graduation he dumped me, a thought that still makes me gasp, (I mean, he dumped me? Yes, I am vain, but honestly, he had just given me a gift basket of homemade items AND Stomp tickets as my graduation present. That dude fucking worshipped me. I mean, what?) and we parted ways for college. But what was once a simple puppy love ending soon transitioned to true legitimate hurt during my first semester at college. He was in the same area as me in Arizona, and I was happy to have a friend while I was so far from home. Now, a blog is not the place for this story so I won’t tell it, but I will say that as my friend he treated me more poorly than a million times being an eighteen year old girl who was dumped after graduation. He shook me in the trust and faith I had in people, and made me near impossible to get close to be it as a friend or in dating. I’m sure my boyfriend now would “love” this guy for that nifty challenge. (At the very least, he made me more funny. People are funny as a defense.)
And after all was said and done, I was mad. I was mad because I didn’t want to be that girl who hated her ex from high school. I didn’t want to have a bitter end to it all; that we dated during our teenage years and now didn’t speak. He was someone I was suppose to meet for coffee ten years down the road and laugh about old times. And that fucking bastard ruined that for me. He really did.
But as the years past and my life became richer and fuller with new friends and new loves, I began looking back at my high school sweetheart with fond memories again, if I ever thought about him at all. I know I am not that old, but my teenage years are already starting to seem like faint memories. I was a different person then. I mean, now I live in Chicago! I have my college degree! I have life long friends that I’ve met in twenties! And those that I met earlier I keep tabs on on facebook!
The discussion with my friends last week (best friends whom I met in college) was really the first time I had uttered his name in, I think, years. And as we continued talking, I found myself thinking, “hmm. I think I totally forgive him. You know what? I do. And I wish he had a facebook just so I could know about him.”
So being the top of my “what ever happened to” list and at the forefront of my mind, I did what any sane person would do. Since the kid didn’t have facebook, I googled him. And as I slowly typed his name in the thin white search rectangle, I contemplated just calling the dude. I bet I remember his cell. If I was so curious, why not?
But no. Forgiven he may have been, but I was not about to make the first call. Biker shorts wearing, a cappella singing, monthly anniversary surprising him needed to make that move.
I halted mid push of the letter “B.” Why hadn’t he tried to contact me? I mean, I was his high school sweetheart too, you know. And I didn’t do anything but provide him with fond memories. Mistakes made were his and his alone, not mine. And why wouldn’t he want to laugh at those days? Did he not want to hear about what happened to me since? My life is pretty bomb right now, I wouldn’t mind chatting it up a bit. Did he not care?
Did he not care?
I stopped my google search.
He probably didn’t.
As anxiety built up and my thoughts brought back pain that I hadn’t felt in over five years, I threw caution to the wind and thought, “Meh. I still want to know.”
I’m not above not caring. I will never be. He has probably gone on to do great things with his life and that may be cool to hear about. Maybe he’s too professional by now to be on facebook, and that’s why he’s not. Or he died and no one told me. That would suck. Or….
I clicked search and immediately an image came up.
Click Click Click. I had to take a double take. Ohmygod.
He. Got. Fat.
Yep. I am a terribly vain and shallow person. I examined the picture and then just burst out laughing. I didn’t read when it was taken or what it was for. I scanned to see key words to really verify that it was him and then laughed away, laughed away.
And granted the photo may have been from a while ago and he still may be very successful and happy with his life. He may even be married by now and doing all that he had hoped and dreamed of. That may be an unflattering and dated picture, I know. But my holier “I forgive him. Let’s be thankful for the sweetheart years” high roading had completely left my mind and body, and in it’s place I was just so… relieved.
I laughed now because for that brief moment, I had won some tiny victory I’d probably been subconsciously dealing with for years.
I had to tell two of my girl friends, and my mom, and my boyfriend (but that was only because I tell him every part of my day, not because my boyfriend needed to know). I had to relook at the picture the next day and I am now writing a blog about it.
See? I am shallow.
The thing is, it’s not that I have some prim, “being fat is the worst” ideology. People gain weight after high school, it’s called “bye bye metabolism.” I had the freshman ten (though I lost it, Wa-bam!) and lots of people are just naturally inclined to be heavier. I get that. In my case I know I have smelly feet, dry wrinkly hands, a pastey body and small boobs. We all got our shit to deal with.
So to clarify, this isn’t a fat thing, it’s a “realization of self” thing. The fact that this kid gained weight made even just the slightest anxiety I had prior to finding that picture vanish once I saw his own imperfection. And the truth is, I didn’t actually care if he was doing great or where he was at in his life. Fuck him! He certainly didn’t care what happened to me! I googled him because I wanted to see if he was in a place where he could think he was better than me. I wanted to see if he was, in fact, better than me. And if he was, then I would feel a pang of hurt but also convince myself that I was happy for him.
But that’s not what went down. What went down is he got fat and I laughed out loud. He’s not the top of my list anymore. I don’t think I would care if I ever saw him again for the rest of my life. Really. He got fat, and I’m doing great. Now I can bump up people who I actually like and miss. (Emmie! Where’s your facebook?)
In the end, I know feeling true pleasure in all this makes me a bad person. The positives lie in my closure of a painful time in my life and the desire to truly let go. But the rest of it, well, it’s just not right to laugh at something like that. It’s not very nice and it is a belittling way to judge a person. I may as well be one of those celeb bloggers who post unflattering pictures of models who may not be a size zero anymore. I suck.
That said, I still find myself giggling at the image forever branded in my head. Even now I feel skeptical for even posting these thoughts for public viewing.
But I’m going to.
I’m that shallow.
– One L
“Flip Flops cannot possibly keep your feet safe from the harm of the world.”