Sunday, May 29, 2005

Dances

Hostility is so much easier to deal with than friendliness, for some reason. Me and non-familial hostility are old pals, dating back to the first time a drill instructor got close enough to kiss me and instead questioned my mother's past morality at the top of his lungs (it wasn't the shouting I minded as much as the bits of spit I couldn't wipe off my face. See the end of the courthouse scene in Blade Dancer for more emotional details.)

Hostility is always a stand-up guy, though. Pure, honest, right there whenever you need a kick in the pants. He makes you feel like a little girl in a stupid dress and too-tight white Mary Janes, made to dance the polka at a family wedding. Hostility is the older, flatulent boy cousin who hates you more than dog puke and will give you at least one Indian burn and a wedgie before the accordion player takes a break.

It's a dance you endure, because you know where to find dead bugs in the wedding hall, and at some point during the evening, Hostility will leave his soda and food unattended.

Friendliness is also at the wedding, but he's not a family member, or flatulent, or scowling at anything young and female. Someone you know makes vague introductions, and he smiles at you. You don't smile back because he might assume something horrible, such as you like boys.

You watch Friendliness, and note that he has good manners, doesn't fart recreationally and is polite to the grownups. He dances with girls, but none of them leave the floor rubbing their arms or pulling at the back of their dresses. You might think he's a suck-up until you see him quietly stop Hostility from pinching your little sister until she cries.

You realize that Friendliness does not know where the dead bugs are, or maybe he does and doesn't care. This causes you to admire Friendliness from a safe distance, and part of you wishes you could be like that -- if that's what he's really like. You don't know. Not like Friendliness is easy to read. Friendliness is too much like grownups, and you're still a little kid.

Then Friendliness does the Worst Thing Possible: he comes over and asks you to dance. Politely, without your mother or your older sister asking him to. He smiles again. He's got a nice smile. Why is he wasting it on you? Doesn't he see your stupid dress? Your too-tight shoes? Not like you can dance anyway.

Do you take a turn on the floor with Friendliness? Your answer depends on how many times you've been forced to dance with Hostility, and whether or not you made use of those dead bugs.

10 comments:

  1. And sometimes it's not quite so cut and dry ... because there are people who will pretend to be friendly in order to hurt you, intentionally. That makes it all the more difficult to trust in anyone.

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  2. My default position is to trust, and I find it works pretty well for me.

    One thing, though: I learned long ago that once someone violates that trust (that is, when they are sneakily hostile) they will generally keep doing it, and so I don't trust them as much any more.

    In other words, I refused to dance with Hostility. Sent him (her, actually) packing.

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  3. Not to be a copy cat, but what Dean said. I avoid Hostility. I'd rather hide in the coat closet than dance with Hostility. That said, it's not always cut and dry. Sometimes I spy a bit of Friendliness in Hostility, something that intrigues me enough to risk getting my toes stepped on. I choose to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but like Dean, Hostile or Friendly, once that trust is violated, I wave bye-bye.

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  4. I'll dance with Hostility once, to see if he's really Vulnerability or Hurt protecting himself inside a hostile disguise.

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  5. I have a tendency to dance with Hostility when the hostility isn't actually directed at me, but at others. When the dance is finished, I then have a tendency to go around telling people, "Yeah, Hostility isn't that bad! Sure, a bit abrasive, but really nice!"

    Then I stick up for Hostility. "Nah, it wasn't really meant that way--that's just in character. Really, it wasn't meant to hurt you."

    Then Hostility calls dibs on all my dances, and I'm not allowed to dance with anyone else.

    Generally, it's some time after that when I realize that my toes are all smashed up and bleeding from being stepped on. They start to hurt all at once, and I stop dancing.

    I'm much more selective with partners now.

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  6. Very strong/vivid analogy. I'm like Dean, once you break my trust, you're escorted off the dancefloor, out of the wedding hall and banned for life from the premises. I haven't had to deal with a lot of hostility (unless it was the sneaky underhanded kind) but I have had my trust broken, and each and every time it hurt.

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  7. Perfectly penned, as usual. I agree that Hostility (at least the in-your-face kind) is easier to deal with than Friendship. Hostility is up front and honest; Friendship can kick you in the gut when you're not looking. :) Wonderful analogy, PBW.

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  8. Hostility destroys me. I melt like snow in a blaze. I can only deal with freindliness and politeness.
    After many years I learned to deflect anger, but at the first sign of hostility, I'm more likely to become invisible.

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  9. Well, that was a very astute sketch of my childhood, how'd you know all that?
    I was in such a good mood til I read that ;Op

    Joking aside, yeah, what you said, and big cyberhugs from a stranger, because whatever prompted you to write that must warrant a hug.

    Thanks for the blog in general and this post in particular.

    Jess

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  10. I have an odd reaction to hostility. If it's directed at others I want to step in and defend them, especially if hostility is bullying people just because he can.

    I rarely back down from hostility. Instead I dig my heels in and prepare to fight. I hate bullies. They really frost my ass.

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