I’m a sensitive guy. If you’re laughing already, it’s probably because you’ve mistaken my version of sensitivity for the cartoonishly effeminate variety of tenderness that has come to permeate the significance of that word. No, I’m not suggesting that I’d be anyone’s first choice for a marathon session of Lifetime TV shows…unless we’re talking about The Client List starring Jennifer Love Hewitt…’cause I’d probably watch that…a lot. But be that as it may, what I meant was that I usually demonstrate an acute awareness of others’ feelings. Awareness of said feelings and giving a single, tender fuck are disparate things, however, and that makes me wonder, at what point should I care more about your feelings than my own?
Assuming that we’re reasonable individuals endowed with a healthy sense of fairness, our inner arbiter of justice should assess our position when our emotional needs conflict with a fellow traveler’s and determine whether or not to reconsider our stance, moderate it so as to reach a compromise, or maintain it and respectfully tell that trick to back the hell on up. What surprises me is that the inner arbitration process seems to be super freakin’ spotty for a lot of folks.
Here’s a true story to clarify my point. It happens to embody the everyday drama of which VH1 reality shows are made, which is good since most of you are about as trifling as a pimp at a Bangkok orphanage.
Anyway, years ago I hooked up with this woman named Olivia. And by “hooked up” I mean “came to know” and by “came to know” I mean “we got naked and bumped into each other repeatedly while genitally interlocked.” Many years later we were reintroduced and began hanging out sporadically. While there were multiple instances of flirtation then, there was no more having of the sex. More importantly, not once was there a hint that we were remotely interested in spending consistent time together, let alone seriously dating. In fact, we regularly told each other about the people that we were seeing, and she almost always brought someone along with her when we met up. In other words, our relationship had all of the intimacy of a live-streamed cuckholdry session.
Well, one time Vicky’s friend Olivia accompanied her. We hit it off famously, and started to hang out without Olivia. Eventually, it became apparent to me that we had big-time chemistry, so I confronted Vicky about what I sensed. She couldn’t deny it. Granted, she couldn’t speak at all since my tongue was halfway down her throat, but still. All that was left was for the two of us to tell Olivia, and we assumed that she’d be surprised, but happy.
We were wrong. Like, real wrong. Like, “You dirty, lying bitch, you’re not my friend, he’s pathetic, it’s never gonna work, and give me back my fucking Helmut Lang dress,” wrong. According to Olivia, she’d always had feelings for me, even if nobody (including me) had a clue about them. By kindling a relationship, we were guilty of betraying her trust. Of course, I say that we were only guilty of miscalculating the ratio of rational thought to lunatic self-absorption in Olivia’s spoiled head.
I mean, come on, dude. Olivia and I had had plenty of time to get something going. We’d seen one another multiple times, and neither of us had felt the urge to put in any effort to increase either the frequency or intensity of our meetings. There’s an old saying where I’m from: “If a cow has but one udder, it’s probably a bull.” OK, I made that up, but the point is that you can’t squeeze milk from a bull’s penis. It’s either there, or it isn’t…and it isn’t, ’cause bulls don’t orgasm milk.
What gives Olivia the right to stake a retroactive claim on something that was never hers? Her preternaturally late-blooming feelings? Well, la-di-da. Congratulations, Lady O, you’ve got feelings. Welcome to the club! You might have noticed that your friend Vicky and her man are also members, which is probably why they couldn’t make it to your initiation ceremony: they’re busy expressing theirs to each other in a very loud and physical way. Now, sit your Narcissistic Personality Disorder having ass down.
Look, it’s well and good for us to make our sentiments known to those around us, otherwise we can’t expect them to understand who we are and how they can help us live a more fulfilling life. As a corollary, it’s right and responsible to acknowledge emotions expressed to us in good faith, allowing them to shape our thoughts and actions accordingly so as to function as supportive, empathic beings. With that said, the phrase “in good faith” is key in that last sentence.
Your feelings are important, but no more so than anyone else’s, and their mere existence doesn’t make them unassailable. Emotions are not weapons to be drawn at random, pointed willy-nilly at others like some drunken, Old West villain, blasting away until you get what you want. When they are, I say that those on the other side have every right to return fire, or do like Vicky and I did: let the fools keep shooting until they run out of bullets, then laugh with everyone else as they stumble out of town, tripping over their inflated ego.