Autumn 2007 It's a year since I met Sly and Doris. They do not like me any better now than they did then. I want them to like me. People like me. They do. Why don't Sly and Doris like me? I was polite. I took a hostess gift. I helped with the dishes. I sent a thank you note. What did I do wrong?
I know there is the blog, but it's not like I am a raving lunatic, name calling or anything. I write about my garden and why haven't I won the yard of the month award and how there is a grand conspiracy keeping me from winning it. But I don't really mean that there is a conspiracy. It's satire, people. Satire.
And occasionally I make reference to political issues, so Sly and Doris know where I stand. I know where they stand. I know where my friends stand. As a matter of fact, I have many friends, Primo included, who are almost opposite of me on political issues and yet we get along. But Sly and Doris seem to be quite unhappy that we do not share the same political beliefs. Why can't we all get along? is what I say. Tolerance. Tolerance.
But they do not like me. And I don't know how to make them like me. I have failed. What am I doing wrong?
Primo has one of his weekly mandatory phone calls. Finishes. "How was it?" I ask.
"I'm not sure I should tell you this," he says.
"Tell me," I say, dreading what I might hear.
"My dad said something about you."
Great, I think. Now what?
"He's unhappy about something that happened last year when we were visiting."
"What did I do?" I ask. I can't think of anything that was exceptionally rude. Mildly - like barely hardly noticeable - rude, yes. But so rude that it had to fester for a year before it could be addressed yet of a code so bizarre that I wouldn't even notice? What on earth could that be?
"When he made breakfast that Sunday - remember? - eggs and bacon - he didn't like that you picked the fat off your bacon and just ate the lean."
I'm waiting for the rude part. "Um-hmm."
Primo says nothing.
"Wait. You mean your father has been upset about how I eat my bacon for a year?"
"Yes. He said it was an insult to the host."
"Your dad is full of crap."
"And you were worried about telling me this?"
"Because I thought it might upset you."
"What?" I am silent as I think about this. Am I upset? Yes. This is stupid. STUPID. He doesn't like me because of the way I eat my bacon? What's wrong with how I eat my bacon? I don't want the fat. So sue me. Primo eats it, so it's not like the fat is going to waste, and even if it were, so what? So the heck what? This coming from the man who ATE MY CARR VALLEY CHEESE EVEN THOUGH HE IS LACTOSE INTOLERANT? AND DIDN'T EVEN DRINK ALL THE LACTAID I HAD TO BUY FOR HIM?
Yes. I am a wee bit upset.
Just a little.
But in a good way.
Because you know what?
I have realized something.
I have been trying to make someone who is completely irrational like me.
And it's never going to happen.
Because he dislikes me for reasons that cannot be fixed. For reasons that have nothing to do with me. He has decided he is not going to like me no matter what and is looking for excuses for that dislike.
He doesn't like how I eat bacon? He's been thinking about that for a year? A YEAR? Yes, I know I am shouting. But honestly. BAD BACON EATING? As a basis for disliking someone?
You'd be shouting too.
The realization is liberating. I don't have to make him like me. I can't make him like me. He won't like me. Ever.
The only thing I can do is be sure to cut the fat off every single piece of meat that crosses my plate any time I am around him. And that's what I do. Revenge is a dish best eaten lean.