Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm sorry, I'm Canadian

I seem to be on a roll with a couple of posts in a row that could be summarized as: "this is what's wrong with me." I might not be a charter member of my own fan club, but I really don't suffer from particularly low self-esteem. I just find it interesting to examine my foibles, because maybe if I understand them, I can start to cure them. Nah, that's probably not true. I just think it's fun to ridicule myself. Today, I'm going to ridicule myself for being a stereotypical namby-pamby Canadian, because I feel like I caved in to the stereotype too much this evening.

I had a particularly off night at volleyball (which is saying something – I'm not terrible, but I'm not exactly ... um ... name a famous volleyball player here), and found myself apologizing when I didn't do a great set, but then also caught myself apologizing when I did a great set and my teammate messed up the spike. Then in conversation later, another teammate asked something about my parents, and when I only mentioned my mom, he asked about my dad, who died when I was a baby, and I never had a convenient father-figure replacement who I could refer to instead. But even though I always stress the baby part – long ago, no memory - people react like they've just stuck a giant foot in their mouths, which makes me feel terrible (though really, aren't they being the too-apologetic ones?). I end up trying to assuage their guilt for daring to bring up such an innocuous topic, and then feel ridiculous that I feel badly because they feel badly for something so un-feel-badly-about.

The trait goes beyond those examples. I have literally apologized when people bump into me on the street. I feel terribly if I hurt someone's feelings, even if it's in retaliation for them hurting mine. If people ask me a dumb question, I feel the need to phrase my answer in a way that doesn't make them feel dumb, even if I think they are. Because there are no dumb questions, only dumb people.

It sometimes seems a little odd to me that I love the character of House so much, but then things like that last sentence pop out of me. Some people have found the current season too dark, House too nasty, but I love the fact that the writers are defying the expectation of the stock character who appears to be a bastard, but is revealed to be a true softie underneath. There's some squishy softness in there, but House really is a bastard, and I love him for it.

Yet I value kindness. I like the social veneer that allows us to only think cutting things about the stupid and annoying people we encounter every day - the social veneer House not only lacks, but scorns.

I'm not quite as nice as I appear to the casual eye. There's a very small percentage of the population that doesn't bug me. I haven't nearly reached House's blissful level of misanthropy, but I am in awe of his ability to express that misanthropy so fully. He says the things I might think I want to say, but never would, and could never forgive myself if I did. And I love him for it because it's liberating to hear those thoughts vocalized, without risk to any feelings but fictional ones.

Coworkers and casual acquaintances have told me they've never seen me in a bad mood or be unpleasant to anyone. Friends know better. In a way, it's a great litmus test for friendship - it's obvious I'm comfortable with someone if my inner bitch shines through occasionally. Maybe that makes me hypocritical, or passive-aggressive, but I think there's enough crap in the world without me making people feel like crap for no reason other than they bug me, or I'm in a bad mood. And I'm not sorry about that.