Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm not really sure how I have friends sometimes: OR Sarcasm as an Emotional Shield, Part 1

ADJECTIVE: Distant physically or emotionally; reserved and remote.

Is it any wonder she's totally my new hero?

I've gotten that one. Also, "snobby." Something must be working. Besides the fact that a shield of aloofness can protect one from many (though never all) of the friendly characters/sexual predators one runs into while riding public transportation, it also functions to keep me from making an ass of myself. Or so I like to believe. (The aloofness does tend to fall away after a couple drinks. But I suppose that's also kind of the point.) By "ass" I mean someone who reveals their true desires, lets people get emotionally close to them, and can consequently be hurt by those they choose to trust. You may say, Lauren, without emotional intimacy, isn't your life a lonely, empty shell of selfishness? Depends on what you mean by "empty." I manage to fill mine with plenty of alcohol and television.

Now, don't get me wrong, I can certainly enjoy the company and emotional support of others. A select few (who make up probably 93% of this blog's readership), anyway. But appearing aloof allows me to take my time in choosing friends.* Because once I decide to trust somebody a little bit to like me the way I like them, we will still probably never talk about our feelings (soberly). Unless something particularly shitty is going on with me, my main approach to emotional relationships is "deflect all pain inwardly with sarcasm until something really bothers me and/or I become convinced I can trust this person." Laying bare real, vulnerable feelings is TERRIFYING. (Reason number 1 why therapy is not fun.) And my usual crushingly low self-esteem keeps me from believing that most people even give a fuck about how I feel. But in the form of bitter jokes, I get to express myself indirectly, and my friends are allowed to laugh in solidarity and no one has to cry or hug each other.

So, my ode to sarcasm: Thank you, dear, non-literal speech, for allowing me to express feelings in a way that creates emotional distance. And thank you, dear sarcastic friends, for exchanging insults in place of sincere tokens of affection. Let us all continue to vent our joys and frustrations through verbal irony, because as long as we're laughing, we're not crying. And if I accidentally express an earnest sentiment in your direction, just blame it on the booze.

*And even if we are friends, I probably won't ever touch you voluntarily. That's another story, however.


  1. julia (again)3/19/08, 9:29 PM

    I've thought about this before, and while I don't consider myself to be quite as misanthropic as you describe yourself to be, I still a) hate touching people when I don't absolutely have to (unless i'm drunk) and b) tend to assume that I won't like a person until they prove me otherwise (which is rare) rather than the other way around.

    But what I have wondered, is the fact that the 3-4 of us who bonded during those oh-so-crucial personality shaping years in high school based on our shared sense of misanthropy (on various levels) or do our sardonic personalities come through today because we influenced each other so much by spending 956 hours a week together between the ages of 14 and 18?

    Chicken or the egg, you know?

    I think it's a little bit of both, but erring on the side of individual personality flaws (or strengths depending on how you look at it) because I have since made several friends that really like to try and give me hugs, and it sure as hell hasn't rubbed off on me yet.

  2. I think it's a family trait. We either never learned how to talk about feelings or it was shunned, I'm not sure which one. But it does make me a little bit socially retarded. Although I will say this, I don't think I'm as obnoxious as my roommate who ALWAYS talks about her feelings. ALWAYS! My usual response is a bland "okay". How many life crises can you go through a day, really?
    However, I've become a lot more huggy-er since I came to college. Although it still heavily depends on the person. I've realized the smaller the person in proportion to me, the more I like to hug them. Pocket sized!

  3. Oh, awkward hugging. How I miss those days in GCA.