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2003-09-24 3:45 p.m.

return of chuck


Anyway. I rode a bus up to see Junko last weekend.

I took my bo staff along, too, because I wanted to show some people in the karate club some of the stuff I've learned with it over the summer. The bus people made me check it and ship it in the "cargo hold," because of its status as a potential weapon.

The cowboy behind me took this as an opportunity to rave to me about gun control.

We talked a bit. Turns out he used to break horses, until he had an accident. He got thrown from a horse into a fence, where one spike went through his throat all the way to his spine, just missing his larnynx, another went up into his abdomen, just missing his heart, and another ripped open his head. He also got a dislocated shoulder and various other complications as part of the deal. He showed me the scars. He was quite a character.

I LOVE meeting people like that. I guess I must spend too much time drowning in the bourgeoisie.

Anyway, while I was there I got together with Chuck again for the first time since she came back from China two years ago. Junko and I went out to dinner with her and her husband. It was something of a train wreck.

I had forgotten how much work it is to be around her. It was like having a bucket of ice water dumped on my head. She's just so damn... tactless.

For instance, the topic of my going to France comes up. Chuck asks Junko, "Are you going to France with him?"

Junko says, "No."

Chuck says, "Why?"

I jump in at this point with something about how Junko's visa status requires her to stay here... blah blah.

Chuck grabs her husband and says, "I'm glad he doesn't have that problem."

At the time I took "problem" to mean "inexplicable desire to run off and abandon me," but I suppose it could have been an immgration status reference, in hindsight. Anyway, that far I was willing to assume that she just didn't understand that my intentions of leaving for France are quite the sensitive topic for Junko and I. ...Though, having written that, it seems like it should be pretty obvious. Later on, she pulls out this gem-

"So, greyarea, how long are you going to stay single?" as if I'm a naughty boy who hasn't turned in his homework, as if I could just wake up one morning, take a shower, and decide not to be single anymore while eating my Peanut Butter Captain Crunch.

I pause, all too aware that my girlfriend of two years is sitting right next to me. "Until I decide not to be, I guess."

"That's what I thought," she says, with a wry smile. Let's take a moment and admire Chuck's intuition- so amazing that she already knew that I'm going to stay single until I decide not to be. I guess she was implying that I had somehow conveyed more information to her with my response than that contained in the words themselves. Which is true, but I don't think she got the non-verbal message I was intending to send, which was, "DAMN, GIRL! SHE'S SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO ME!"

It's one thing to ask such questions without Junko there. It's another to ask such questions AS IF Junko weren't there.

The third diamond in this vein dredged up out of the mine went as follows- Chuck was talking about something, and mentioned Junko being my girlfriend. Then she stopped herself and asked, "Is girlfriend an okay term to use? Some people don't like it."

I wonder if her impertinence was intentional, or if she actually was oblivious... Chuck has a long history of pissing people off. Sometimes I think it's intentional, sometimes I don't know. I think she puts up a front that she uses to sabotage her relationships, so she won't ever have to risk someone rejecting her for herself.

Hey, I've skimmed pschology textbooks- I know how it works!

The main thing that bothers me about Chuck, though, is that she always acts as if she knows everything and as if everyone around her is totally clueless. Which couldn't be further from the truth, which she well knows. She is constantly trying to goad me into a pissing contest with her, and I am constantly rolling my inner eye.

Of course it's all just a cover for dismal self-esteem. The truly confident don't feel the need to be constantly trying to validate themselves to everyone around them. This posturing of hers, these endless attempts to make herself appear smarter than YOU are what most bother me about her. It just goes against everything that I am. Who cares what other people think? If you really are the shiznit, you don't need to try and prove it- you know it will happen naturally as situations arrive that require your skills. People are impressed and pleasantly surprised when you are unassuming and then proceed to perform brilliantly when the time comes. People are annoyed and perhaps unpleasantly surprised when you've painted them a picture of bullshit and then proceed to drop the ball when it counts. Braggadocio won't fool a perceptive person for long and won't fool a naive person forever. This is why Chuck is good at making friends but bad at keeping them. And why, as much as I value Chuck and her friendship, I could never possibly be romantically interested in her.

We stayed friends because, I think, I'm much more tolerant and patient than most people. I adore the girl, when it comes down to it. She's really quite fascinating.

She claimed I hadn't changed much. I'd qualify that by saying my mode of interacting with her hasn't changed much. Whenever I'm with her, she's constantly poking and jabbing at me with her words, challenging me and trying to get a reaction out of me. This tends to annoy me, even piss me off. I can never just BE with her. Thus I find myself with two options- leave or go into Super Stoic Mode. Usually I do the latter, and she thus thinks of me as standoffish and sullen. Which isn't untrue, but there's a lot more to me that she's never been able to see, because those parts of me just couldn't withstand Hurricane Chuck.

Just after our time spent with Chuck, Junko and I found ourselves at a mall. Junko went to the bathroom, and was there for quite a while. When she came out, I could tell she had been crying. She denied anything was wrong, of course...

The key to dealing with Chuck is just to not take it personally. That can be kind of hard if you don't understand her a bit, and Junko's never been very good at not taking things personally...

[sigh] Chuck, God knows I love you, but not much alienates me more than making my girlfriend cry...

Oh- Seika, if you're reading this, don't pass any of this along.

pretending the echoes belong to someone,


P.S. This seems to be most candid I ever got in discussing Chuck while our time together was passing.