Thursday, July 26, 2007

Parasites

I used to have some friends who would say or do something, often something in bad taste or otherwise anti-social, and follow it after a brief pause with the disclaimer, “Just kidding.” As if it’s only just a joke; that if I don’t "get it,” then I don’t have a sense of humor; that I have to disassociate myself from the demeaning nature of the “joke” because it is “all in good fun.” I have come to some conclusions about these now former friends: They are not “just kidding,” they are just testing. They are testing my limits, testing my patience, testing my tolerance, testing my intelligence and all the time pushing the envelope. Taken to an extreme, they are the friends who might take something shiny and if (and only if) they get caught will play it off as a joke. Funny.

Obviously, these are not friends. Oh, sure, there are the isolated instances where someone will say something off-color and regret it. Indeed, they might really have been kidding. I know I have been guilty… and what I really meant was “I’m sorry.” Everyone slips up from time to time and damage control is sometimes required… the sincerity, however, is there. It is when the constant pushing of the limits of respectful conduct is one’s modus operandi that motives must be called into question. Is it an attempt to improve upon one’s self image at another’s expense? Perhaps it is a serious lack of social skills that prevents these poor souls from showing any authenticity. Maybe low self-esteem is better than no self-esteem.

Regardless, friends don’t disrespect friends. In fact, decent folk don’t disrespect anyone and tend to hold their friends in the highest regard. Isn’t that what attracted them in the first place? One would hope. I am too far along in this life to deal with the superficial and the shallow. It can’t be about what I have, what I can do or my status. It better not be about race, color or creed and of course, beauty comes from the inside. It’s about who I am, my values and principles. It has nothing to do with political ideology or social standing but everything to do with respect.

I would hate to be in a position where I attracted “groupies” - people that would give anything to be my “friend.” Without knowing one little thing about me, they would claim to be forever faithful. Spare me. I feel sorry for those that must sort through the multitudes to find those who are genuine - those who cannot be bought at any price. My friends today do not care what I have, but I have in the past been sucked in by those who did. They are not friends…

They are parasites.

31 comments:

shoeaddict said...

Michele (or Connie, wasn't that awesome) sent me to say that was very well said. I agree 100%. I am only 26 and I've been burned by parasitic "friends" way too much in this lifetime. I don't want to be judged by anything but who I am and not the size of my home, income, rings, etc... This is often the problem with women. I guess it's a lttle off subject from what you are talking about, though.

I really can't stand to be taken advantage of or put into a sterotype either. I like shoes, I like clothes and pop culture. I also love all different types of books and people. You can't fit me in a box and I don't like when people try.

flleenie said...

Well, I often find myself saying, "only kidding". I am from the Northeast and have a very dry sense of humor. I now live in the south and quite frankly, most of the people down here don't get my sense of humor. I don't consider my actions insulting, I'm just trying to have fun without offending anyone!

BreadBox said...

Hi Mr. A: Michele sent me to say: if I can't be a groupie, can I at least enjoy your thoughtful writing?

And I too find "only kidding" terribly nasty....

Best,
N.

kenju said...

I know about "friends" like that. You reminded me of the old saying "Many a truth is spoken in jest". I agree with you; I don't believe they are "just kidding" either.

Being married to a former athlete, I know all too well how it is to have so-called friends who hang-on because of your public acclaim, not because they really like you. They are painfully obvious.

Janet said...

You know...I DO know what you're saying, but I'm from the northeast, too, and it's a common saying here...not following a racial slur, tho, more poking fun at oneself!

Carmi said...

Perfectly said, Mike. There are a number of people in my immediate family who could potentially fall into that category. They seem to derive entertainment from winding everyone around them up. It's a very Don Rickes-ish approach to life, and it completely turns me off.

It's like people who preface a line with "no offense". Actually, that's exactly what they intend to do. The fake little disclaimers only advertise their intentions.

Best avoided. You, on the other hand...

wordnerd said...

Umm, well, I think we have a problem. When you continue to write like this, you will very likely develop groupies like me!

Well said, as always, Mike. And timely as well.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Yeah, that "just kidding" doesn't excuse the fact that someone may have said something very stupid or offensive in the first place.

I think that in certain limited situations, antisocial or offensive behavior is OK, but I certainly wouldn't want to associate with someone who thinks that should be the standard of behavior.

Here via Michele.

rashbre said...

Interesting post. I'm assuming some recent situations have provoked the line of thinking.

There has to be some unconditionality with 'proper friends'. We have off days and sometimes need support, counsel or solace.

There are people I've know for years where we've spiritually linked in some way that means even when we have long blank gaps we can pick up and continue as if there was no time or space between.

I suppose these folks are ones where we've shared some common experiences and lived through situations together. Such folk are unconditional when there's a glitch and look for ways to provide support or help.

I love these kind of people and consider myself privileged to have them in my circle of friends and with an un-asked for reciprocity from me.

rashbre

Tiffany said...

WOW! I could copy and paste that to my blog, because Boy oh boy do I have someone like that right now! This is probally one of the best blogs that I have read in a while. I think we all have parasites in our life. Im trying to rid myself of them now. I am officially taking applications for new friends...lol. Michele sent me, and I am so very glad she did!

Becky68 said...

You got skipped at Micheles so I came to say hi since I'm much more into reading than writing right now. (too many things I can't say on a public blog- too little that I can)
I have experienced what you're speaking of & some (my oldest daughter) would say that I still have one friend who is a parasite- The problem is she needs help- & I can give some of that help- to the friends credit she's actually paid back some of what I've given in the past year which I was happy to see. Even if it was only to be able to say to my 17 year old (who still thinks she knows everything- ah to be that young again!) 'See- she's not such a parasite after all!'

The Turmanators said...

First, thanks for the kind words at my site. I appreciate the support!

Second, I completely agree. The "just kidding" comment is another way of saying "I mean what I just said but don't want you to get mad at me". It's an immature and hurtful approach to communicating, and like you, the older I get the less time I have for game playing. If you are past, say, 35, and can't just put an issue on the table and deal with it, then I don't feel like I have time for you. I hope this doesn't mean I'll be a crotchety old lady, but I probably will. But at least there are more of us out there, it sounds!

Glad Michelle sent me today.

Bob-kat said...

I know exactly where you are coming from with this. I am very choosy about who I call 'friend'. I expect alot from my friends but I give a lot too. Friends are one of the most valuable things in life and a good one should be cherished.

I have been blogging for just after a year and I am getting more used to virtual friendships now too. I have learnt that these friendships are just as valuable and the same rules apply. Respect is so important!

Bob-kat said...

LOL! I was so taken with your post that I forgot I came by to answer the question you left on my blog!

At the club I go to we all have our own weapons. We actually practice with blunted steel weapons mostly and occassionally bamboo shinai. As we own the weapons we are all responsible for the upkeep of them. I look after my swords as I do my car and I love my car :)

Thanks for asking and thanks for your best wishes for my family. It is much appreciated!

Shephard said...

I like Kenju's quote.
The behavior is passive aggressive, and I recently in the last month have had issues with a couple friends who use p.a. behavior to shut me up. People do indeed mean what they say.
Great post.

Michele sent me,
~S

Used*to*be*me said...

Very well said.

BreadBox said...

Michele almost certainly wasn't there to send me this evening, but if she had been, she would have, to say this:
I have been graced with some extraordinarily good friends -- not a huge number, a handful, but they are very very special to me. The sorts of people who continue my conversations years after seeing them, who phone on the day that I think that I need it most, and who shout at me (gently) when I really do need it most!

Fake friends are like fake anything: rarely worth the time or money.
N.

Theo said...

been there done that. been there got that.

nicely said.

Michele's site sent me tonight...

PI said...

I love it when someone perfectly encapsulates a situation one has experienced and not been able to put into words oneself. It is a gift you have Mike - to be big enough to see the whole picture and to describe it so accurately.
Arising from that, why do people seem unable to make a sincere apology? I can't sleep at night if I feel I've behaved badly. It really puzzles me.

PI said...

Ooops sorry! Michele sent me.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Authentic People....that's all I want in my life and hopefully that is what they get from me, too.
Like you Mike...I'm too old for all that other crap! It's exhausting and is not turturing in any way....OY! There are many people out there also, who make decisions abouty you based on who they think you are and not who you really are...I find that discouraging and also a waste of time. Again, it goers back to the Authentic Self....But people see what they want to see sometimes and not what is really there, right before their eyes.

gautami tripathy said...

I have known a hell lot of such parasitic friends. Being basically nice, I could never say no. But somewhere down the line, I shook them out. And very happy for it.

Michele sent here to dwell on that.

panthergirl said...

Did you ever see the stand-up comic who talks about the expression "with all due respect"? He basically says that people think they can say ANYTHING as long as they say "with all due respect" before it.

Example:
"With all due respect, your sister's a whore."

As for "only kidding", I really hate it when someone says that because even if it's a funny joke or witticism, that takes all the fun out of it. The point is to just "get it" and not have to be informed that it was a joke.

Here via michele today... no kidding!

Paul said...

Great post! And you used "regardless" correctly. Not that other non-word that so many people use.

Hi, I'm here from Michele's today and it's almost 1:00 p.m. in the Heart of America.

Belizegial said...

Mike,

I agree with you that parasites are a pain in the *a...* and suffering fools gladly was never my strongpoint.

Congrats on applying to lawschool.

Happy weekend,
Enid

Bob-kat said...

Hi Mr A. I have sent you an answer to your question via email :)

PI said...

Mike! I'm here again from Michele's and may I say I see you with a charger on a white horse - ready to rescue fair maidens from evil blog/spam meddlers. It's great to have men like you around. Hooray!

Melody said...

I can't be bothered dealing with people who irratte me or who are childish or foolish. You know what I mean - I have too much other stuff going on in my life that to have annoying people in my life. I have only really learnt this lesson in the last 13 years or so; life is too short. Interesting post and it is very appropriate to have posted it this weekend, with all the bizarre going-on's over at Michele. Hmm...

Michele sent me, by the way!

Michele said...

I agree with used*to*be*me that this is "very well said."

However, it is this one line...

"It’s about who I am, my values and principles",

that says so very much about who you are. It explains why you have many friends and why you are a wonderful friend to so many.

LADY LUXIE said...

Uuuuu...How charmingly worded!..I feel like wanting to curtsy..hee! hee!

Splendid...

Bravo!..Bravo!!

Shane said...

heh heh
reminds me of my mom when she says "I hope you don't take this the wrong way but . . ."