Monday, October 31, 2005

Secret Origin of Cap'n Neurotic pt.12 - Letters! I Wrote Letters! I Wrote Sacks and Sacks of Letters!

Well, despite my best efforts, the time stream still resists my efforts to reshape it to meet my whims, so I suppose I'll just go ahead with the next chapter. I'm as ready as all of you are to get past this incredibly long and neurotic section of my history, so I plowed full-steam ahead for this one; makes yourselves comfortable, this is going to be a long’un. As I mentioned last time, during the Year of the Flunky I had started to slip into my old patterns again when I was over at Dr. G'ovich's house for Poker night, which then began to bleed into all of our other interactions. After a mini-breakdown which turned into a mini-epiphany, I finally decided upon writing him The Letter.

Now, I know that Flunky was aware of the letter at some point; whether I told him about it before or after, I don't recall; if I did tell him about it before, he apparently didn't try to talk me out of it. In retrospect I wish that I had had him look at it first, so that he could have very patiently explained to me that giving that particular behemoth to the Doc was going to be a very, very silly move.

I still think that the idea of writing a letter was probably my best chance of getting out exactly what I wanted to say; unfortunately, there was whole heck of a lot that I wanted to say, and, I, in case it might have, somehow, someway, escaped your, I'm sure, incredibly astute powers of observation, have a tendency, nay, let us say a compulsion, even, to be, for want of a better term, overly verbose. So, there I was, overflowing with issues, overflowing with wordiness, and unencumbered with any sort of editorial guidance; I wound up with a three page, single-spaced letter, the first two pages of which were just set-up. I basically did a much more succinct version of the Secret Origin for him, and then laid out the following:

I’ve really been wondering about for the past few years, but have been either too chicken or too stubborn to ask. Which one of your lists am I on now, [G'ovich]? I know I sure as hell got knocked of the respect list a long time back. Am I just the guy you called when you started needing a fifth for poker? Am I the guy you feel obligated to invite because you hang out with my roommate? Am I the guy you once had something in common with, but now can’t remember quite what? Or, am I possibly the guy who, up until you got this letter, you thought everything was A-OK with? This is the question that has been bothering me for way too long now, and it’s a question I would really like to have answered.
And just think, there was still half a page worth after that.

One of the problems with The Letter, other than my aversion to brevity, was the odd tone; I was trying to talk about something serious, but I didn't want it to be too serious; I tried to add some levity to it so I wouldn't come across as too psycho, but re-reading it now, that need to joke around strikes me as so pathetic, so needy that it makes me cringe. I think it probably would have been better to just slip this note to him:Yup, that probably would have worked out a whole lot better.

Anyway, I printed off the lever, and headed over to G'ovich residence; I'm not sure what I had planned on doing if they had been home. But they weren't, so I left it in their mailbox and waited for a response. Any response. Even a "You're a *$#&@ nutjob and we've got a *$#&@ restraining order, so stay the *$#&@ away from us and our kids" would have been acceptable at that point. But no response was forthcoming. I'm not sure how many days I waited in nervous anticipation; surely not as many as it felt like. When I saw the Doc was online I kept waiting for some message at least acknowledging the letter, but got none; I finally caved in and sent him a message asking if he had got it. His response was, yes, he had, but he was swamped with school stuff, and needed time to think about his response. Which was fine; however, several more days passed, and still nothing; again, my will-power was unequal to the challenge, and I soon asked about it again. This time, the response was basically that he didn't really have anything to say about it, and he didn't think he treated me any differently than he did anyone else. And, well, that was it.

I was, to say the least, nonplussed. I had poured out all of my fears and insecurities and neuroses onto the page, and all I got back was a brief answer little better than "No comment," an answer that felt like pulling teeth to get. I mean, if he had instantly replied with that answer, it might not have bothered me so much; bothered, yes, but not to such a degree. But to have what I'm sure was at least a week go by and to finally have to be browbeaten into replying; it was too much for me. At that point I was ready to wash my hands of him.

Now, to be fair to G'ovich, he pretty much did do what The Letter asked him to do; he answered the question of whether I was unwanted or not; I suppose I should have included a "Please explain why, in a minimum of 200 words" clause. But while the general "it's all in your head, now leave me alone" tone bugged me a bit, it was nothing compared to what I would feel about a week later, following a particularly ugly volleyball game involving the Doc, Flunky, and myself, which led to an interesting yet infuriating ICQ conversation, which led to yet another letter. Yes, that's right, I never learn. As to the volleyball game, let's just pull a direct quote from the 2nd letter:
I was tired, frustrated, and wound up beyond belief from the events of the previous week, so I was even more sensitive than usual. So, when you started yelling “Play it” after I had already let the ball go, I didn’t hear any joking tones, I just heard disgust that I didn’t go for it. Later, when you said “Play everything, [Cap'n], the line lies,” I knew you were trying to kid around, but I had fallen too far into my black mood by that point. When I asked for you to just tell me if I was doing something wrong, it was my attempt to try and get things back on track. When you set the ball and called my name, I started to go for it, then saw it was going more toward [Flunky], who was running for it, so I stopped. Of course, then he stopped too. I was pissed, but at myself for not going for it, not at you. But then you were defensive about it, which made matters even worse, since I knew I’d just blown my one chance to patch things up between us. Afterwards, [Flunky] informed me that you and I were both being overly touchy. Well, I can’t speak for you, but I know I sure as hell was.
Following this lovely incident, I struck up an ICQ conversation with him the next day, trying to apologize for being such an overly-sensitive jerk. He then proceeded to tell me this was why he never joked around with me, because I took everything too seriously; he griped about the fact that I was so self-deprecating, but then bit off the head of anyone who put me down even slightly; and then he made the now infamous "If you keep this up, you won't have any friends left" comment.

May I take a brief moment before relating the rest of the conversation to comment on just how infuriating it was to me that, after giving me the "I have nothing to say, I don't treat you any differently" answer a week or so earlier, he was now unloading this bit of "here's all the stuff you do that tick me off and make me want to not be around you anymore" information on me. I find it very hard to believe that this pattern of unbearably obnoxious behavior had developed in the span of a week; the fact that he had waited till that moment to relay this info angered and confused me; now, back to the conversation at hand

So, I don't know, maybe I'm the only one, but if someone has just told you that you're in danger of running off all of your friends because of your horrible actions, wouldn't your first response be to question the speaker to see if he had hard proof to back this up, examples of your other, apparently soon to vanish, friends expressing their dismay over your thoroughly unpleasant behavior? Or is it just me? When I asked him if someone else had said something, his response was "It's not like we sit around talking about you all day."

Let's stop to ponder that response for a second, shall we?

"It's not like we sit around talking about you all day."

Where to begin?

First of all, that's obviously patently untrue; we all know that I, Cap'n Neurotic, with no disrespect intended towards Cap'n Disaster, am the center of the universe, and that all words, deeds, and actions exist only to somehow further my status as such; of course all conversations held in my absence are designed only to humiliate and inconvenience me. Second of all, even assuming, for a moment, if you can stretch your incredulity that far, that the whole world does not revolve around me (I know, it seem impossible, but bear with me for a second); even assuming that improbable theorem were true, couldn't he have picked a less flippant and insulting way of communicating it? I mean, I had just been accused of being such a gigantic and colossal ass that I was in danger of driving away everyone who was close to me forever, was I crazy to feel like the crack was a slap in the face to my concern? Or was it just a case of me being overly-sensitive and not being able to take a joke? Or, as G'ovich put it, in what has to be one of my all-time favorite G'ovichisms: "Cap'n N., you have trouble separating G'ovich from reality."

While the accusation of my unbearable behavior hurt, I couldn't deny that there was some truth to it; however, after much thought (not to mention a seeking of reassurances from some of my other friends that I hadn't yet come close to driving them away), I decided that, for the most part, all of my problems revolved around G'ovich.

Raise your hand if you're surprised.

And so, the second letter was written, this one only a little over two pages long; this time I expressed my ideas that the only person who set off my temper seemed to be him; I related the "You realize you aren't hurting me" story and explained how most of his trash talk and jabs served to trigger a flashback to that time for me; I tried to get across that, yes, I had trouble separating G'ovich from reality, and yes, I would strive not to take everything he said so seriously; but I also urged him to realize that so much of the time when he saw the pissed off look on my face to realize that it was more myself I was angry with, and not anybody else. Finally, I ended this letter with an assurance that I was expecting no response on this one; I had said my piece, and I would strive to change my pattern of behavior, and that was that; if he wanted to comment, fine, but I wouldn't stay up nights wondering if he would. And, of course, he didn't, which surprised me not at all.

So, what was the immediate result of all of this letter writing? Well, let me answer that with a couple of quotes from some much more laid back letters I wrote to Flunky after he moved out
I know what you’re waiting for now. The latest blow-up between G'ovich and me, or at least the latest catalog of uncomfortable silences. But, true to my word, I’m not letting anything G'ovich says (or doesn’t say for that matter) upset me. Well, he still bugs me (he wouldn’t be G'ovich if he didn’t) but nothing that the new, incredibly stable Cap'n Neurotic can’t handle. Not that we’re best buds or anything, but I’ve found that not giving a crap about what he says has made poker night much more enjoyable. Why didn’t I think of this before?
Well, it’s been, what, three months since G'ovich and I had our last little blow-up? Yes, I believe it has. And guess what? The meter’s still running. That’s right, G'ovich and I haven’t really ticked each other off since you left town. And we’ve actually been able to talk a hang out a bit the last month or so without having huge, awkward silences as the prevailing mood. In fact, I hardly even worry about that stuff around him anymore. It’s only at moments like this that I stop and think, “Wow, we haven’t killed each other yet!” Here’s hoping we can keep the civility up at least until one of us moves off, which might not be too far off.

And yes, we were able to keep the civility up until Clan G'ovich joined the great Parkerite Exodus. However, at that point I fell out of contact with them; on the rare occasions when I would happen to see them, the old awkwardness between the Doc and I had somehow managed to resurface; it felt like we were tiptoeing around each other again; there hadn't been any snapping at each other or anything; that would have required us to be able to carry on a conversation of more than three or four words between us. It was bizarre; if there was some precipitating event, it's lost to my memory, if I ever knew it at all. I eventually just chalked it up to us growing up and growing apart, somehow losing whatever we had in common when we were no longer around each other constantly.

When I eventually moved to Denton, I had hopes that things might get better, but honestly, for the first year or so I was here I talked and saw the Parkerites less now that I lived 45 minutes away than I did when I lived almost 4 hours away. I would do things with Clan Stoneheart, and later Clan Berzerkr, who eventually moved to Plano from Colorado, but Clan G'ovich and I had next to no contact. I admit it bothered me a bit; not at old uber-neurotic "nobody likes me everybody hates me" levels, of course; I really was a much more stable, self-confident person by this point in time. But even if this distance between us bothered me, I didn't know how to rectify the situation; it made me so uncomfortable that I began to dread being around the Doc, because the lack of conversational compatibility was like a huge honking elephant in the room; I even remember one occasion when Pooh-bear asked me to call the Doc to find something out and I balked because I had visions of a disturbingly awkward phone call filled with long pauses and miscommunications; look, I know I said I was a much more stable person, but you have to remember just how unstable I was to begin with; the fact that I wasn't staying awake all night trying to figure out what I had done to cause this latest breakdown in our relationship was a huge step forward for me.

So, this strange awkwardness is where I shall leave us for now; the worst is behind us, my blog monkeys, so now we shall backtrack to the days of the Book Monkeys and travel through the time of The Singles, before eventually reaching the resumption of not-quite-so-awkward-as-before dealings with Dr. G'ovich.

What was that? Did I just hear a near-infinite number of blog monkeys letting out a huge sigh of "finally, no more G'ovich talk!" relief? I believe I did. But don't get too comfortable my dear blog monkeys.

You know the best villains always come back.