Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Quality Conversation with the Teen

Our house is not pretty. In fact, it's pretty plain and boring. A single story ranch with ugly brown trim. It wasn't even brown, really. More like the color of rust. The ugly brown trim was peeling paint which made it look even worse. In fact, that's how I gave directions: we're the corner house with ugly brown trim. They always found us.

We updated the trim to a more neutral, less gaudy color and added shutters for some aesthetic appeal. (Window boxes will be next, if I can figure out where to get decent ones for under $200 a piece.) Not huge changes, I'll admit, but surely noticeable, one would think.

BEFORE

AFTER
(you cannot imagine how much I dislike
those wires on the side of the house)

Bean, you haven't said anything about the house.

What about the house?

The outside.

What about the outside?

What? Go out and look at it.  [forces teenager outside]

Yeah?

Well?

Well what?

Do you like it?

Umm.... yeah.

The color. It's a new color. That's why that guy with the big painting van was parked outside our house.

Oh. OH! Yeah, I like it. It's nice.

Thank you. What about the shutters?

Umm.... they look exactly the same.

Exactly the same as what?

As the ones we had before.

We didn't have shutters before.

We didn't have shutters?

No, we did not have shutters.

Are you sure? I swear we had shutters.

No, we did not have shutters.

Oh. Well they look nice.

You don't see a difference, do you?

Not really. But in my defense it's not like I walk around staring at the outside of people's houses all day.



* I would post a picture of the actual front of the house, except that would mean remembering to take a picture of the actual front of the house. And it's not like I walk around taking pictures of the front of people's houses all day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Win a War: Stay one step ahead of the competition. Which, clearly, I am not.

Hey, Dad! Guess what? Remember how we took out that scrub brush from by the street? On the other side of the garage? By the lilac bushes? There are sunflowers growing there! The girls noticed them the other day! Can you believe it?!

Maybe someone planted them as a joke.

Who would plant sunflowers as a joke? No one plants flowers as a joke.

We used to back home. When someone left we'd plant something in their garden and wait for them to find it.

Did you plant sunflowers in my yard as a joke?

(stifles laughter) No... I'm just saying that some people would do that....


I feel like this is a good time to point out that my parent's back yard is massive. Like regulation football field massive. And it's neatly (and proudly) mowed and trimmed. With beautiful gardens bordering the yard, which is big and wide and all smooth cut grass.... like a blanket of velvet.

I wonder if Dad likes corn. I'm picturing three or four cornstalks sprouting up from the exact center of his manicured lawn....

Monday, October 3, 2011

How can I hate you? I hardly know you at all.

Long story short: although I did absolutely nothing in high school that was memorable or newsworthy, I still felt it important to have a class reunion. Mostly because I like cheese. And there is always cheese at reunions. I was never on Student Council. I was never an honor student. Or a popular kid. Or a cool kid. Or a pretty kid. I was just a random teenager trying to figure out my place within the High School Galaxay.

Surprise! I found out I didn't belong there. Just like all the other kids in high school -- because you're not meant to stay in high school. You're meant to grow up and mature and find yourself and stop throwing french fries at the dorky guy who walks past you on his way to get his fifth carton of chocolate milk.

I'm not sure who was relegated with the duty of reunion planning but no one did anything about it for 16 years. That's when me and this other guy joined forces and planned an impromptu gathering at our local Legion Hall. Reminiscent of our school cafeteria, it was pretty fitting.

Then we tried really, really hard to put together a decent 20 year reunion. Three of us: Me, and Tom, and Dominic. Like the three Musketeers. Except without the tights. Because no matter how much cajoling those boys would not wear the tights. That reunion would not have happened without the support and dedication of Tom and Dominic. It just wouldn't have. They deserve the biggest thanks ever.... like a bathtub sized edible arrangement. Each. Except that would suck if they were allergic to pineapple or strawberries, because then they would probably think I was trying to kill them off or something.

For months we planned, tracked people down, put our own money down for deposits, and hoped for the best. All while maintaining our full time jobs, traveling and keeping a home and family. (I had it the easiest because I was too poor to do any traveling.)

And the reunion was freaking awesome! Mostly because it had cheese!

But then.....

...the other night I received a message. And then another one from someone else.

Someone was unhappy. Very unhappy. Because they said no one invited them. And they weren't surprised because they hadn't been invited to the first one either. And so, because I did not want people thinking anyone was intentionally left out, I politely explained to both that actually I had contacted said Unhappy Person via Facebook and said Unhappy Person told me to never contact them again because we had never been friends in high school so why would they want to be friends now? (Only with much more angry voice... in fact, a lot more angry voice.)

And I got to thinking about that.

How sad if that is how they think it's supposed to be. I knew you once before but we weren't friends so therefore we can never, ever be friends.

I love Facebook because it has enabled me to reconnect with so many people I had gone to school with that I did not know. Sure, I knew their names. Maybe I also knew they were on the football team or yearbook committee but I didn't know what they thought of their father or how close they were to their grandparents or if they secretly longed to learn how to rope cattle. Now I found these same people allowing me to get a glimpse into their lives: I can see that family time is important to them by the amount of camping trips they go on each summer. I can see how witty and funny they are by their status updates. I can see that this person here loves to read, and so do I, and suddenly I'm talking about books to someone I had only spoken to that one time when I came charging into the bathroom because I was afraid I had gotten my period and ohmygawd what if it's leaking through? I'm never going to be able to show my face again! and literally knocked them over and sprained their finger. (I'm still so sorry about that.)

And I found that so many of those kids I walked the halls with were doing the same thing I was doing: just trying to figure out where we fit in.

Then, Unhappy Person contacted me...... and although I tried to apologize and explain I had only respected their wishes of not contacting them, and that the invitation had been sent to their parent's house, they insisted I was a fake. I guess because we hadn't been friends twenty years ago I'm not capable of being sincere in my apology. I know what it feels like to be left out; I'd never want anyone to feel that way over anything I was associated with. (Of course, I also wanted to point out the obvious: your friends were invited and had known about the reunion, why didn't they tell you about it?) Unhappy Person was angry. Bitter. A pissed off exterior hiding a hurting soul.

And because this person assumed I hated them, anything I said would be (and was) perceived as fake. The bottom line is, being nice to someone you dislike doesn't mean you're a fake. It just means you're mature enough to tolerate your dislike towards them.

By the way, I didn't dislike them. Not now, and not then. I couldn't. Because I don't know them at all.