Friday, December 17, 2004

The Quality of Friendship

Today tastes like those jelly nougat candies with the fruity pectin pebbles buried opalescent in the matrix of vanilla bland chewy.

A number of things came together for me; and while I know I promised progress pics of the latest tank, if you're very good and patient I'll be able to complete the thing this weekend and show you a finished foto right off.

It's Hallowthankmas, after all, and one of the traditional topics of conversation is about the celebrations of the triumvirate/trinity/hydra-headed holiday. How many little SpongeBobs showed up on your doorstep this year? What did you eat for the feast--we had turkey, green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, pineapple, walnuts and brown sugar.

So in keeping with that, may of the lists I'm on are chattering about the final celebration, when presents are opened, lights are strung, and families reunite one last time (we only do this twice a year, after all, for the last two blow-outs of Hallowthankmas). Why only twice a year? Why, because we can't stand each other, that's why.

That's been a recurring theme, and finally someone took up the gauntlet and asked why. Why, if you can't stand each other and are miserable sitting there while Aunt Ethyl slugs down martinis (Ethyl's real name is Katrina, you see) and picks everyone to shreds; while Uncle Bob waxes lyrical about his latest surgeries and big plans if only an inimical universe will stop punishing him for daring to dream big; while Cousin Audry whines and wrings her hands and wet-blankets any sincere suggestion that might help her pull herself out of the pit she insists she's trapped in--why on earth do you feel obligated to put yourselves through that? Would the world truly end if you sat this year out and spent Hallowthankmas with people who nourish your spirit? Who eat with you instead of feeding off you?

And this discussion really strikes a nerve, because earlier this year, I had to ask myself the same question regarding the people I hung out with in real life--my meat friends. The meme and paradigm have been shifting slowly over the past few years. I'd seen it going on and put my shoulder to it a couple of times to try getting it out of the rut I saw coming. But come the fall (yes, before election time--August of so)I had a really powerul insight, and once something is seen, I can't unsee it.

Hanging with one bud one on one (a rare and marvellous thing with this bunch. It's gotten so a party of ten is an intimate gathering. It sounds like the height of cool to throw a party and get 300 through the door in a night--without property damage or theft, mind you. This is a gang that polices itself in the main, and everybody knows everybody else.) So anyway, hanging with Samwise and she happens to mention something she and Lynchpin were doing.

Lynchpin is the one everyone knows, her and her husband Hub. They organize a lot of group activites, they founded the Moveable Feast, they're respected and liked by many in the gang. Everyone wants to be close to or very much like Lynchpin and Hub. Which is not necessarily a bad thing . . . in some respects.

So as Samwise was talking (and it was about bookbinding; not meant to be a show of status, "I'm close to Lynchpin and you're not. I'm higher in the pack than you are." It was in relation to the SCA, though, and I am not a member and do not wish to be. Not at this time, thanks.) she happened to mention something about how Lynchpin was balked by someone at the latest event, and how Lynchpin flew into one of her infamous temper fits, and how everyone had to tiptoe around her while she sulked. And Lynchpin will be the first to tell you that she can't lose gracefully, and likes to win more than anything else--tho' she's not too good at doing that gracefully either. Whst's the point of winning if you can't crow and gloat, after all?

And unfortunately, I realized that I knew a set of people Just Like That. Three-year olds. Prone to unbridled little egos, temper tantrums when things didn't go their way, and in need of constant validation--"Look me, mama! Look me, look me!" Just like Lynchpin.

And that made me wonder if I wanted to be a part of a group where the person most admirable was basically a very tall three-year-old. Yes, building castles of blocks is cool and fun, and hearing the stories of white unicorns with purple manes who stole the cookies is amusing--but when you get to be the endless giver of support and validation and don't get anything back ('cos a three-year-old doesn't yet grok that other people are just as real as they are) and have to be careful to allow them to ALWAYS win to avoid the inevitable tantrum afterwards . . . well, there's a reason I don't have kids and don't have a job where I can work with them for the majority of my waking hours.

So. Holiday parties are upon us. I've made a point of not attending Great Pumpkin Night, nor TaleSpinners Night. I'll be going to the Three Days Past Solstice Celebration because I have goodies to pass out to some of the other friends. But the annual Tolkein celebration is upon us.

We're such fantasy geeks, this gang of mine. When they released Return of the King on the big screen, we were there in the line party for the screening where they were running the whole trilogy back to back to back. Every geek's dream, to see them all that way. My butt was numb for a week!

And being foodies, directly after Fellowship a small contingent of us were endlessly repeating that line about "What about second breakfast? And elevenses? And nuncheon?" "I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip." And daydreaming about how cool it would be to watch the movies and have second breakfast. And elevenses. And nuncheon. And tea. And dinner.

So when they announced the release of Two Towers to DVD, we planned a Tolkein celebration. It's not hard if you pace yourself, and have a bunch of couples so each pair makes one dish. No one has a lot of work to do.

But you see, it's held at Lynchpin and Hub's house. First Consort Gareth really wants to go--he loves to cook, and has an idea for gingerbread with cream and dried apricot butter. Not too sweet, but spicy, fruity, and interestingly textured. And he's not happy going if I don't go. He'll stay home, and he's good about not doing the passive-aggressive thing where he hisses and glares while claiming nothing's wrong (that's my game, thenk yew) but at the same time, he won't be the playful merry otter-boi he is.

Sigh. So I'm sitting here on the one hand, clamoring along wondering why anyone would go to a celebration when there's nothing festive for them there. When it's going to be sitting there feeding the psychic vampires a drop at a time. I'll have my knitting with me, but I've trained this group not to treat it as a shield. More like a nervous twitch; so I can't really get away with, "Just a moment please; I'm counting and I really do want to hear what you have to say."

And at the same time, I want to answer along with the chorus of, "It's just not that simple." Nothing is.


Dympna said...

So what would happen if you walked out on her temper tantrum?
Something I've always wanted to do.
Or tell her exactly why you will not be joining her and the others for the festivities.

Spike said...

Actually, Dympna, I have.

Walked out on the last tantrum (a neat trick when you're camping together), and have stayed in close touch with the handful of folks who I really care about.

The hard part, though, is that Lynchpin does come up with really cool stuff to do, and is one of the few folks who can not only plan stuff (wouldn't it be nice to have pie in the sky?) but actually motivate others to build the towers and see it through. It would be easier on so many levels if she were less complex.

Sigh. Why can't people be more like characters in fiction?

Dympna said...

My circle of friends has actually dwindled down to a select few because I do not put up with crap. Maybe from my family. Not my friends. I do have one friend that I have stayed with. I have tried to cut off all ties with her. I may never. She is worse to herself and maybe see needs us more then we need her. Luckly I don't live near her, otherwise she wouldnt' be my friend anymore.
So good luck to you.