Wednesday, February 9, 2011

how can you say I go about things the wrong way?

I got a call at random from a friend of a former friend last night. I don't really know her all that well, as I know her through my most recent roommate who's no longer speaking to me, and so there's a dynamic of awkwardness there because I don't know what she knows about everything that went down in the past year. Since I'm not a fan of drama, I figure that what she doesn't know can't hurt her.

Every so often, she finds me at work or calls me and asks for life advice, most of which I know is not what she wants to hear and that she'll never take. I don't believe in sugarcoating but I try to be nice, yet the truth usually seems to possess this uncanny ability to hit nerves and make people mad.

We come from very different frames of reference in relation to absolutely everything, in part because of the difference of socioeconomic status and the values with which we were raised.
My upbringing was fairly conservative (though by no means as conservative as others I was around), and lower middle-class, while her parents are progressive, very well-off and live in a very affluent part of town, and currently bankroll her rent and college education in hopes that she'll get a master's degree because those are the kind of things that matter.

I tell her that maybe if you don't like school you should do something else until you decide what you want to do, get some life experience, because life isn't about how many degrees you get or what they're in.

Or instead of being on the Internet all the time looking for love, you should get out and get interested in stuff, volunteer or something if your parents aren't crazy about you working minimum wage, because that opens up your world and usually gives you more common ground with other people, and that usually guys get a little creeped out if you text them all the time and tell them their exotic ethnicity is sexy.

So she's asking me for love advice in regards to her roommate that she's enamored with even though everything about him even through her rose-colored gaze screams bad news to the point where I actually fear a bit for her safety and general well-being because said guy sounds sociopathic.

She considers me a "nice person" and a bit of a prude, which isn't terribly far from the truth. Any Victorian-ness on my part comes from an uncanny instinct for self-preservation coupled with the memory of several unpleasant incidents in my teens and seeing lots of instances of date rape aftermath in a college town. Moral code aside, it's a man's world and I tread there knowing that I have fought back and don't intend to be in those situations again if I can help it.

She always apologizes for swearing around me. She's surprised to find out that I have lived with male roommates, though it was for about three months in a college housing sublease situation and nothing "happened," considering that one was a fratboy who had his sorority girl friend with benefits upstairs and the guy I shared space with weighed 90 pounds and had muscular dystrophy.

So after she goes into way more detail about the relationship than I really wish I knew, she gasps a little bit when I tell her this guy is a total asshole who is constantly denigrating her, sees this as an economic arrangement plus the sex he'll never get to have in his own country, and that if I was her, I wouldn't date him ever and would probably move out also because he sounds like a terrible person to live with, let alone date.

"But I want a relationship!"

Don't we all. Sometimes.

But there's a reason why we don't give our phone numbers out to random dudes on the bus who ask for them because unlike humans, all relationships are not created equal. Sometimes it's heaven on earth like it is for my sister and her husband, and sometimes you end up with someone dead. There's Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, but there's also Sid and Nancy.

The conversation ends quickly after that, and I paint for awhile and go to sleep on my couch in my cold little half a house wishing that I knew her parents' phone number so I could tell them that their daughter is living with a scary dude and that if they're going to pay her rent they should maybe pay it somewhere else where she'll be safer, but also knowing that she's a consenting adult and will probably continue to make mistakes like these so maybe I should let her? I don't want to feel responsible for someone's stupidity but I wish I didn't know.


Randal Graves said...

This is going to sound more callous than it is, but this is why I'm glad I don't know more than a literal handful of folks. No matter what good advice/suggestions that you give her, the odds are that she won't learn until it's too late, as you alluded to. Then you'll feel like shit because part of you thinks you could have done more, which a sober mind knows is untrue.

Well, off to troll the internets for chicks.

P.S. Apparently, public transportationistas are even crazier than I've encountered.

thatgirl said...

I don't feel guilty for the bad decisions on others, because that's their choice and their consequences, even if it's hard to watch people so young screw themselves up so much.

I take it you've never had anyone ask you if your pimp takes care of you well while you're on your evening commute.

Randal Graves said...

Unsurprisingly, that has never happened to me.

Chef Cthulhu said...

Interesting. Trying to think positively about this, the fact that she continues to seek affirmation from you when she knows she probably won't get may point toward one day when she actually takes your advice. She probably knows what she should do, wants to hear it, but just can't muster the courage to do it.