July 16th, 2003

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put out the big light

"Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
when I hear the silly things that you say. I think somebody better put out the big light, 'cause I can't stand to see you this way"--old Elvis Costello song

I have a friend who described meeting an old girlfriend, years after they parted. During the time they were dating, he wanted to marry her, have 2.2 kids, and live in a ranch house. But she wanted to move on to more fascinating quarry--perhaps more attractive men, perhaps more "social" men.

Years later, though, she returned to visit my friend, apparently hopeful that they might resume dating. The discussion was congenial, but his response was negative. As he phrased it later "I just had to laugh".

His reaction differed entirely from what would have been my own, as any woman who ever had the poor judgment to choose to go out with me deserves and receives a sort of honorable mention in my personal hall of fame.

It is a curious thing, though, to meet someone whose personal fortunes worsened since the time when one was closer to them, friend-wise. This applies across the board, and not just in that tacky "see, you stopped going out with me and it turned out I was the best thing you had going for you" sense. When former friends or acquaintances go through misfortunes, one feels somehow that one psychically could have "seen" this coming. When an enemy has great fortune, one feels blindsided by life.

The "toting up" and "scorecarding" of people is perhaps natural, but it can be corrosive. I think sometimes I ought to turn off whatever lamp makes me pay attention to how people turned out. I do learn sometimes from the stories (amazing lessons like "alcohol in excess is bad" and "marrying rakish
men who dumped you before will probably not work out well"), but I think this sort of judgment makes me far too much like that Saturday Night Live character The Church Lady than I ever wish to be.
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sobering reflections

"There'll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine (moonshine)
Stoned soul, stoned soul
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic"--one-time relevant song covered by the Fifth Dimension

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