The Perceived Consequences of Christmas Guest Lists in the Age of Eric Lindros

Friendship SignYears back I used to hang with this guy who really annoyed the shit out of me.

It was back in a time when, admittedly, I used a pretty fat brushstroke when it came to defining what a friend actually meant. He wasn’t a friend, so much as an acquaintance, and he wasn’t even that so much as a familial obligation, and he wasn’t even so much an obligation as he was an asshole.

I was an asshole in my own right for hanging with him but I didn’t see it that way. I saw the arrangement as being a matter of efficacy. I was doing the wrong thing for what I thought to be a righteous reason. He was the son of one of my father’s business partners, and well, that’s where the familial obligation came in. I figured any camaraderie I could summon out of this ‘friendship’ would produce a positive bleed into my relationship with the old man, which has always been a complicated thing. Really, it was like tossing a golf ball down a bowling alley and expecting a strike. But I was young and stupid, a time of my life I now affectionately refer to as my early thirties.*

(*If you’re in your early thirties, don’t take offense. Stupid is a relative term, and my stupidity was relatively epic.)

This bargain basement deal met its end one night on the way home from a Flyers game and drinks. The conversation turned to my mom’s annual Christmas party and, more specifically the guest list.

“Marie doesn’t mind you hanging out with ex-girlfriends?”

“Why would she mind? She has guy friends, not a big deal.” I replied, parsing my response in the hopes he would get the picture and change the subject.

“Yeah, but I didn’t see any of them at the party.” He said.

At this point, I wanted to parse my response some more. Fuck you was making sense.

“What’re you getting at?” I asked instead.

“Perception is reality.” He answered smugly.

There comes a point in every man’s day when he has to decide whether punching someone in the face is a socially acceptable response. My moment came at some place close to midnight after a Flyers game and drinks.

“No, reality is reality. Your perceptions are what you bring into my reality and that’s not my problem, that’s yours.” I said.

I was proud of my reply, considering as how my brain was busy trying to abort the protocol for Defcon 1, which involved the launching of a Louisville slugger on the only available knee caps that weren’t attached to yours truly. My reply was smart, and it didn’t require bond.

“I didn’t mean anything by it.” He responded.

“My perception is that you did mean something by it. I don’t know what your home situation is like, but my reality is just fine. Thanks.” I said.

“No problems on my home front.” He said, almost childishly.

As we drove on in silence, I reviewed the flaws in my stratagem of befriending someone for indirect purposes. Ironically, I had forged a perception out of the realities when I entered into this tenuous alliance.

We never did the Flyers game and drinks thing again.

This episode did allow me to take inventory of who I could count on and who I couldn’t, and while the numbers fell precipitously, the importance of those left standing became magnified. My perception as to what friendship meant changed. I was no longer content to appease or collect. The logistics of my social interactions gave way to a much more rigorous set of standards, dictated entirely by reality.

My lesson learned was that you can always get busy blaming someone else for getting in your way, or you can thank them for giving you that time to stop and think. It’s not a glass half full, rose colored glasses view so much as a self driven mandate whose annuities will never leave you bankrupt.

I guess I owe the Flyers an assist.


15 thoughts on “The Perceived Consequences of Christmas Guest Lists in the Age of Eric Lindros

  1. I had a “friend” like this. Left me in a bar to pay for the drinks while he took off with the two girls we managed to talk into going to breakfast with us. Hitchhiked home and never talked to him again.

  2. “Perception is reality.” WTF does that mean, anyway? My guess is the guy heard it in his head a split second before he opened his mouth and in his head he thought it sounded profound. I’m betting you intimidated the hell out of him, Cayman.

    Young and stupid and early thirties sounds about right for me, too.

    Thanks for the Hendrix video. Damn! He was good.

    • Mary,
      I never did understand what in the hell that was supposed to mean. I’m just thankful I never held it against the Flyers. Not that I’m a fan, but still, it would have been unfair to hold the Broad Street Boys accountable for such a thing.
      Hendrix, now he was a talent the world is always gonna miss.

  3. “Didn’t require bond”? As in bonding bat to knees? James Bonding Dr. No? Either way, I like the phrase. And yes! Life is too short for putting up with assholes.

  4. Hendrix. Ahhhh.

    We can learn something from everyone, can’t we?

    I sometimes wonder if I’m living the same life over and over again, each time given another chance to get something right I missed last time.

    We all have our own realities. And they’re all different. Reality is reality, but my reality is not your reality. Perception steps in when I start making judgments about someone else’s reality.

    I’m not sure I’m making sense, but yeah, I feel you on this one. I’m glad you learned what you needed to learn. 😉

    • Tupelo,

      Your thoughts are eerily similar to my sister’s thoughts . . as per the idea that you’re living the same life over and over again, with each time being your latest chance to get things right.

      You make perfect sense.

      What else is new?

  5. I read this last week and have been thinking about it ever since. Seems that my youth (a.k.a. early thirties) were also fraught with non-friends that I spent way too much time, effort and worry with. I agree with 4 a.m. writer in that we probably need to have those types in order to keep the folks in our lives who truly would help us hide a dead body–no questions asked. I have no hurt feelings for those in the past–just no desire to rekindle.
    As always, I love reading your words. You even write about the tough subjects in a manner that soothes and runs as smooth as creamy hot chocolate. Don’t know why I use that description…but, hot chocolate always comes to mind when I read your page 🙂

    • Mama,

      I held onto the peeps who would help me hide a dead body. Not that I’m interested in making the body dead, but if hiding it keeps me on the friendly side of prison bars . . I mean, it’s an investment for my future, yanno?

      And I’m very cool with the hot chocolate description. This is Drinks Well country, and it’s still winter enough ’round here.


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