Tuesday, July 24, 2007

When people tell you how they are...

One of the fun things about visiting with my friends H & A is that somewhere along the line we usually run into their friend with whom I have had a few romantic encounters in the past (i.e. - hookups).

The first time we met, Brian and I hit it off instantly - complete with the electric spark the second your eyes meet, the jump of energy after the first witty banter is exchanged, and the full-on burst of can't-hold-each-other-tight-or-kiss-hard-enough make out session. These sessions didn't go long without being interrupted in a movie-scene way, and therefore never went all that far. Just far enough to whet my whistle, so to speak, and make me always look forward to the possibility of seeing him.

But alas, he lives there and I live here, and our lives went on without each other. He has now been seeing someone for a while, and when we do see each other, while genuinely happy to be in each other's company, we are appropriately well-behaved.

This weekend, deep into Saturday night, we all found ourselves out in a bar on the Lower East Side. Sure enough, Brian and I somehow gravitated towards each other, innocently chatting. I did mildly wonder if his girlfriend and her friend noticed how much he was talking to me (I was careful not to instigate the conversations), but decided not to bother myself with it. When the two of them left to find the bathroom at our second stop, Brian leaned towards me.

"Man, I hate it when people do that," he said.

"What? Go to the bathroom?"

"No. Try to pay. Her friend tried to pay."

"What do you mean? Why do you hate that?"

"Because. I like to pay for things."

"Well, that's nice of you. But it's not like you have to pay for your girlfriend's friend all of the time."

And then the kicker -

"Yes I do. It's how I distinguish myself. I make up for having no personality with money."


"Why do you say that?" Genuinely shocked, I waited for a laugh, or some signal that he was joking, even if he really wasn't. But he didn't give it. It appeared that he was really telling me this about himself.

"It's true. I don't have a very interesting personality, so I make up for it by being the guy who pays." His tone was completely matter-of-fact.

I was really floored to be hearing this. Brian is a successful, smart guy in his early thirties who has always been nothing but nice, sharp and sweet. He has traveled all over the world, and always has a lot to talk about. H & A truly count him among their best friends. And yeah, he's loaded - but how could he truly believe that money was all he really had going for him? And furthermore, why was he so blatantly telling me all of this?

"That is not true. You've always seemed very witty to me."

"Well, there has always been alcohol involved."

"Ah... the old liquid confidence, huh?"

"You got it."

"Well, if you ever need to buy your way into someone's heart, I'm available," I said in a jittery and slightly sarcastic voice, trying to make light of the awkward (on my part, anyway) exchange.

"You got it," he said with the cute and warm smile that had always made my heart skip.

The conversation was over, but my confusion was not. How is it possible that this great guy with whom I had always felt a strong connection really thought so little of himself? Is his opinion skewed, or is mine?

I remember a Maya Angelou quote that I once heard Oprah say* - "When people tell you how they are, believe them."

This is so true. Whether they pretend to be joking, somehow hide behind it, or are dead serious, people will often tell you exactly what they are like, if you listen. So unfortunately, my crush on Brian has to end. I'm choosing to listen to what he told me. That despite everything that he seems to have going for him, he's a pretty unhappy dude with some issues. And there wouldn't be anything I could realistically do to change that.


*I tried to look this quote up online to make sure I had the wording right, but couldn't find it anywhere, so please forgive the paraphrasing if it's incorrect. Or better yet, let me know what it really is.


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