I snapped this photo of myself 11 years ago at a Club Med in Martinique. I may or may not have been slightly toasted. I doubt it though. Booze cost an arm and a leg and you had to pay for it with beads to surly bartenders who only spoke French. So getting a drink was a challenge (except at dinner when you could have all the wine you wanted...Club Meds are run by the French after all).
But I digress. The photo reminds me that I didn't really have a realistic image of myself even then. For one, I used to think people liked me. And I used to think I was incredibly clever (especially when I was toasted). Now that I am older and have become a daddy, I have more time to reflect on what kind of person I am and was. And like the photo above, it isn't really a pretty picture.
Oh, I don't think I am a terrible person. Maybe it is age or maybe it is being a father, but I just keep getting glimpses of myself through other people's eyes in my mind and it makes me cringe every time.
I am a sarcastic person. I have always been a sarcastic person. I used to think it was part of my charm. Now I think it is one of the leading reason I don't have any real close friends. I attribute my sarcasm to growing up with two older brothers. I truly believe that their way of letting me know how much they loved me was by calling me stupid at every opportunity. So I came to believe that insults were a way of expressing affection. In retrospect, not everyone appreciates that berating them is my way of telling them that I care.
Coming across as a curmudgeon is a hard habit to break. I've grown to expect that people expect it from me. But then it has also great affected my credibility when I try to be nice. So I try to keep my charitable acts and acts of kindness anonymous.
This leads me back to my lack of friends. Stepping out of myself, I can understand this. I sit there listening to this jaded, cynical man jabber on in a paranoid fashion about the latest injustice at work and the stupidity of mankind and I too want to retreat to my happy place. Viewed in this way, I really bring myself down and I can only guess how it affects other people.
I am also an impatient man. I don't suffer fools lightly. This is a curse because fools are all around me. I want to throttle people who can't figure out how to use a cash machine without methodically reading all of the instructions. Who in this day and age hasn't used a cash machine? It is not rocket science. And don't get me started about people in grocery store lines. Don't write a check. No one writes a check in this day and age. And don't engage the checker in small talk when there are 40 people in line behind you.
See what I mean?
For the longest time I really did think I was a witty and clever fellow. No one could say anything to me without some clever response. Then I started realizing how annoyed I was when some jerk would say the same clever thing to me over and over. I knew this one guy who always said, "Why, am I coming apart" when someone asked if they could "join him." Funny the first time. Mind numbingly annoying the tenth or eleventh time.
God don't let me be one of those guys who asks if the flowers are for me when he sees someone with a bouquet walking down the street.