Monday, July 19, 2010

Your Post

So if we were drawing a Venn diagram of my friends, the place where the circle containing people I actually know and people I know through the blogosphere would have a very small overlap. My friend Eric is one of those rare folks who would belong in that small overlapping area. A few months ago, I told him that I was going to write a post for him for his birthday to let him in on something he didn't know. His birthday was last weekend. I worked and worked on this post, but I found myself adding details to make it accessible to readers who DON'T know us that ended up making it cumbersome and - I thought - a little boring. So I wrote him a letter, instead. When Tom read it, he said - post it with a little note explaining why it's a letter. Eric agreed that that would be okey dokey with him. I hope this will suffice as that.

One year I wrote a post for my daughter, Lea, for her birthday. When she tried to explain this to her friends outside the blogosphere, she said, "My mom wrote a post about me for my birthday. It's kind of like when normal people write you a song." I don't know what world my child is living in - where normal people are writing each other songs all the time, but there you go.

Without further ado:

Your Note

My gift is my song, and this one’s for you. – Elton John

For the most part, I like people. I like talking and I like listening. I enjoy the exchange of information, philosophies and thoughts. I am a social creature. You know – on accounta being human and all. I crave human discourse.

When I was younger, thinner, and generally more attractive, this was a much easier need to meet. There was always someone on the next barstool willing to expand upon their theories. Often they were interested in hearing mine, too. Barstool philosophy, phone calls that lasted all night, confidently meeting friends of friends of friends – it seemed that there would always be someone to talk to. It never occurred to me that it would ever not be this easy.

But as I got older, bigger, and generally less attractive, meaningful chat with strangers became more and more rare. Apparently, in the eyes of strangers, the quality of my conversations was inversely proportional to the size of my ass.

This was hurtful and surprising at first, in the days when I would still freely turn to that stranger on the next bar stool, or on the next seat on the airplane, or in line at the grocery store – whatever – and expect a friendly exchange. I soon realized, though, that while this behavior was viewed as charming when I was generally attractive, it just became intrusive and creepy as I veered away from societal standards of beauty.

I convinced myself, eventually, that it was ok for people to discount my thoughts and words. I began to believe that I indeed WAS unworthy. And then – because that wasn’t bad enough – it got worse. I convinced myself that being in my presence was a burden and that no one should be subjected to it. And I accepted that.

I accepted it.

It got to the point that I could barely remember a time when it had been different. To tell the truth, it didn’t even hurt any more. It was just the way things were.

Enter you.

We met briefly at the first Martini Club and exchanged about three sentences – enough to establish ourselves as the matriarch and patriarch of the group.

The next month, you arrived first and I was second. You beckoned me over to the barstool beside you and we talked while the rest of the crew trickled in. When conversation at the bar became cumbersome, we moved the party to a table. You sat at one end and I moved towards the other. It was my natural impulse to give you a break from my oppressive presence. I would’ve done the same for anyone. You had been kind to talk to me so long at the bar. I was grateful. I was ready to give you a chance to talk to younger, thinner, more generally attractive and therefore obviously more interesting people.

You didn’t take it.

You caught my eye before I actually sat in a different spot and patted the seat beside you. I was startled. You wanted to keep talking to ME? Even when there were so many other more societally acceptable options available to you?

I loved you a little bit in that moment.

Finding common ground and enjoying someone’s company – something I’d done effortlessly and almost constantly a couple decades before – was happening again. It took me completely by surprise.

It shouldn’t have, but it did.

Since then my confidence, while still nowhere near the levels it hit when I was younger, thinner, and generally more attractive, has improved by leaps and bounds. I no longer just assume that my presence is an imposition and a bother. I’m learning to take it on a case by case basis. I can accept that people – really GOOD people – might – just might – be able to like me for me. I trust myself enough to at least make the effort to find out.

So happy birthday, Eric my friend. My gift to you is cluing you in on your gift to me. I think I got the better end of the deal.

I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words – how wonderful life is while you’re in the world. – Elton John, again. He’s very good. He’s no David Soul, but he’s still very good.


5thsister said...

lovely insights. and happy birthday to your friend Eric!

Cheryl said...

Damn near broke my heart with this note and it's not even to me!

You're absolutely right: EJ is no DS.

Happy Birthday, Tammy's dear friend Eric.

Rosa said...

Beautiful. And so you. And I mean that in the best possible way. For what it's worth, if you can work a David Soul reference into any given conversation (post...whatever) then you're way ahead of the game. :)
Happy Birthday, Eric.

Eva Gallant said...

Happy birthday Eric! Gtreat post!

Badass Geek said...

I'm glad you posted this. Great post.

Pam said...

This is heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. Like Eric, I would have patted that seat and said keep talking girl. I love reading your posts and I'm so glad you share your thoughts here with all of us. I hope some day I get to meet you in person and become a part of the overlap in your Venn Diagram. That will be a happy day for me. I will gladly sit by you and talk for hours and hours.

blueviolet said...

Eric sounds like a good soul, a true friend!

Anonymous said...


Joanna Jenkins said...

Happy Birthday to Eric-- a very cool friend.

As for you Miss Tammy-- I'd LOVE to strike up a conversation with you in real life-- at the market, the mall... where ever.

xoxoxo jj

Unknown Mami said...

Dang it, Tammy! I'm a choked up crying mess. Friggin' beautiful.

carma said...

Gosh I LOVE this post. You've found quite a friend in Eric. Isn't it amazing how we do this to ourselves. At parties I try not to hog up anyone's time too much with my "dullness" :D but you never know, every now and then somebody actually takes a genuine interest.

If our concentric circles ever intersect I'm sure that we would thoroughly enjoy each other's company!

MiMi said...

Omagosh, Tammy, that is SOO beautiful!!

Swine said...

I answered this lovely letter directly, the morning of my birthday.

I sat in front of the computer, hung over and stinky, weeping like a — well, like a groan man deeply moved.

This is how I finished my response that day, and I think it bears saying it again: Tammy, if I helped you in any way, it was the most effortless help I've ever given.

Thanks, babe. -Eric