Sunday, October 30, 2005

Secret Origin of Cap'n Neurotic pt.10 - Shock and Awe

We're starting to come into the home stretch here, people! Honest, the deep psychological scarring is almost done. Almost. If my calculations are correct, we should have the bulk of my neurosis all dealt with within the next two or three Secret Origin posts; but I have been known to be wrong before.

Hark, is that a light at the end of the tunnel I see? I'm shocked!

In the year I roomed with The Old Man I reconnected a bit with Coronela (who was our next door neighbor) and the Stonehearts (who had by that point gotten married). I also hung out with Dr. G'ovich a bit; not being cooped up in the same house had eased, if not totally erased, many of the frictions between us. Of The Old Man I saw little, as he spent the majority of his time at his fiancĂ©’s place. I hung out quite a bit with one of my co-workers from the public library and his wife; yes, the same ones I had begged off of doing stuff with back when I was obsessed with recapturing the glory days of the Golden Year.

I suppose that marks the biggest difference in my attitude during this time period; I had stopped hopelessly pining for the close-knit camaraderie of the Golden Year. Did I miss it still? Of course I did; but at the same time, I had finally resigned myself to the fact that too much had happened for things to return to the way they were in the good ol' days. But while this resignation helped me to crawl out of the mental pit I had dug for myself the past two years, it also carried with it something else: a tinge of bitterness.

Bitterness towards whom, you may ask, although by this point you're probably conditioned to say "Dr. G'ovich" automatically. And, if you are, then I've done my job well; there was indeed some resentment harbored towards the good Doctor and towards Flunky as well. Was the resentment well-deserved? More than likely not, but it kind of made things easier to bear; I had finally decided to go the route of "self-pity" over "self-loathing," no longer trying to figure out where I had gone wrong to drive everyone away, but instead compiling a list of all the ways I was being let down. Still not exactly the picture of mental health, and not really living up to that whole spirit of forgiveness thing, but at least I was able to sleep most nights.

Now, what sort of things was I resenting? Well, I'll refer you back to this post at CoIM's spin-off site; again, I'll caution you that many of these grievances were colored by my more-than-slightly out-of-whack P.O.V. at the time. Although G'ovich and I were communicating slightly better, that overly-sensitive aspect of my personality was still pretty active, causing a flare up now and then. Probably the biggest thing to bug me about the Doc over the next year or so was an off-shoot of the Cap'n Cellophane effect; the biggest difference now was that it was not a case of him forgetting about me when plans were made; no, at this point plans would be made, but he would then forget about them or, at the least, forget to tell me that they had been cancelled. For me, it all smacked of disrespect; I knew G'ovich had a lot going on at that point, and I like to think that I would have been understanding if plans had to change due to family commitments; but all too often I would wind up structuring my activities to accommodate plans which would never come to fruition. I don't think I ever adequately communicated to him at the time exactly why I was so ticked; it probably came across as more of my old clingy, needy behavior, rather than the brand new font of bitterness it really was.

And what of Flunky? Well, as mentioned last time, during most of this time I hardly ever saw the boy outside of an occasional gathering at Doc and Rocket's place; again, I was feeling abandoned, unwanted, yada yada yada; hence, the bitterness. I remember when I got a call from him one evening to see if I wanted to go see Starship Troopers with him; I was shocked as all get-out. And, if I'm not mistaken, that was also the evening where he let slip that he had gone to some sort of activity earlier that day with G’ovich, GMC, and some others, but didn't ask me to come along because it was organized by The Eskimo, and he knew I didn't like The Eskimo; apparently, according to Flunky, everyone knew this.

Now, this was not the first time something like this had happened to me; back when we were all still in the house, Doc and Rocket broke up for a time, and I had multiple people make the comment to me that I was probably happy, what with me not being able to stand her and all. I couldn't believe my ears; if I ever did express any such dislike, I honestly have absolutely no recollection of it. While it was true that Rocket and I weren't the best of buds at the time, it wasn't a question of dislike or detestation; it was more a question of us never really having found much of a common ground at that point. And now, here it was a couple of years later, and I was once again being told that everyone knew I couldn't stand someone else in the group. Once again, I was shocked; only this time, instead of a "where did that come from" reaction, the shock was of a "holy crap, am I that obvious?" variety.

So, yes, I admit it: at the time, I did not care for The Eskimo. I can chalk that up to a couple of things. The first was of the first impression variety; in early encounters with him he struck me as cocky and condescending, and I had a hard time getting past that initial mindset; everything he said or did seemed to reinforce that image in my mind. But probably the biggest source of my dislike for The Eskimo was that green-eyed monster, jealousy. Jealousy of what, you may ask? Well, let me put it this way: back when I was suddenly feeling excluded from all of my roomies' activities, three guesses as to who was G’ovich’s new constant companion? Yes, that's right, I didn't like The Eskimo because I felt like he was stealing my friends from me. In my defense, remember that I was psychologically unsound at the time.

I remember at one point G'ovich said "You know what I like about The Eskimo? It's that if I say 'This is how we do it' he'll respond {singing} 'This is how we do it'." That would be a reference to a popular song of the time, for those of you who were wondering; of course, upon hearing this statement my first thought was a firm certainty that, if I had responded in a similar manner, as my songbursty nature made me apt to do, I would have just gotten a dirty look and been mocked relentlessly. I guess it just felt like I was being discarded, that old "disposable friend" fear showing up again; here was someone cooler than me who could actually play basketball and volleyball without being a complete embarrassment to his teammates, so of course I was being shoved to the sidelines. So, instead of trying to fit into the new dynamic, I became resentful and sullen; and apparently, didn’t hide the resentment and sullenness nearly as well as I thought I had. Heaven knows how much stuff I got excluded from over the years because of it; and of course, now that I knew that my attitude was transparent to everyone, I was doubly self-conscious in Eskimo-related situations.

Again, my memory of exact sequences of events is a bit hazy; after the movie night, I think some of the ice thawed between Flunky and me; when he told me that he and Flunky Lover were going to get married in Houston he seemed shocked when I expressed an interest in attending, and even more shocked when so did Coronela and the Stonehearts. How shocked? This shocked:Yes, that's a young shocked FlunkyBut even though we were on better terms than we'd been for a while, we still weren't quite back to the best-buds level; that's why I was pretty shocked when Dr. G'ovich told me that Flunky had asked him if he thought I would be open to rooming with him the next year. Now, you might be shocked as well, what with him being married and all, but Flunky Lover was graduating a year before he was, and already had a job set up in Texas, so they were going to be doing the long distance thing while he finished up his degree.

I have to admit, I was sort of dreading Flunky actually asking me himself, because I wasn't sure how I was going to respond. On the one hand, yes, things had been better between us recently, so it wouldn’t be totally awkward; on the other hand, I had experienced an instant flash of "oh, sure, never hear from him unless he needs something" when I first heard the idea, which was a big red flashing neon warning sign that maybe some of those old neurotic tendencies were still pretty active; but the gripping hand was, despite all of my petty resentments and weird hang-ups, even though we hardly spoke and he was so unsure of our standing that he had to ask The Doc, of all people, about how I might react; despite all of this, on some level I still considered him my best friend. The chance to mend the tears in our friendship was too valuable an opportunity to pass up and, besides, even if I hadn't been a 100% certain about the move, I probably would have said yes anyway; a friend in need, and all that rot.

That next year rooming with Flunky really set the stage for the new, more stable Cap'n Neurotic, although not without a few bumps, bruises, and blowups along the way.