In case anyone is reading this that does not know me in "the real world," let me share a little something about myself: I am a friendly, congenial fellow, and I like to get along with just about anyone who isn't racist, prejudiced, or otherwise small-minded.
I have also been out-blogged, so far this year, by two brilliant mothers, an uber-talented bassist, and a ceramic owl. But, I digress...
In general, I think most people who know me would say that I am likable, if not downright nice. I feel confident in saying this because I have made a serious, conscious effort to be this way. There was a time in my life when this was not so easy for me but, I am happy to say, I am now predisposed toward the positive.
Lately, however, I've become acutely aware of just what an unforgiving bastard I can still be, once in a while. So far, this year has presented me with ample opportunities to look into this facet of my personality and, I have to say, I'm not proud.
Let's start with that fateful Saturday night. I was working behind the bar at the wine shop where my lovely wife waits tables. I get to go in whenever they need an extra body, and it's always a fun time. It's a bit of work, but the people are great and we laugh & sip good wine all night long. (Now that I think about it, that's hardly "work" at all.)
On this particular night, we had a huge party in the tasting room (our version of a party room, for seating larger parties comfortably). These were not the folks one typically finds at an upscale wine bistro. No, these folks seemed more likely to be found, on any given night, at a boot-scootin' country bar, or even a friendly neighborhood beer-'n-shot watering hole. One guy, for example, was seriously miffed because my wife (their server) couldn't bring him a plastic or Styrofoam cup that he could use as a spittoon. (We have neither plastic nor Styrofoam in the restaurant.) Karen managed to find him an empty 7-Up bottle, which he filled about half way during the course of the evening, and was kind enough to leave behind for her to dispose of. (No, I'm not kidding.)
This party also presented my wife with several additional challenges. First of all, there were so many people that we didn't have enough chairs to accommodate them, even after pulling empties from all over the restaurant. The room was packed elbow to elbow, with everyone milling around. Even Karen, an excellent, experienced server, had a difficult time keeping up with who ordered what, and how to serve the food.
Worst of all, many of the people in this party were just downright rude. By the end of the night, my beautiful wife was almost in tears.
Several times throughout the night, when Karen would walk out of that room obviously shaken, I almost went back to the room and asked people to leave. What's that you ask? Am I allowed to do this? Nope - it would have cost me my cushy, enjoyable side-job, and possibly gotten me banned from the wine shop altogether. I didn't care. I wanted every person in that room to leave, and preferably meet a fiery death on the way home as a result of their own drunken driving. I'm not exaggerating - I was literally hoping for physical harm to befall these people. Especially the rude ones.
As fate would have it, after this particularly difficult Saturday evening, Karen and I also came home to - drum roll please - her parents. Yes, my in-laws were in town. Her mother had been here since Thursday and her dad came in that night while we were at work. Now, when Karen's mother is in town, Karen is literally baby-sitting her the entire time, and it's very stressful. Her mother is deaf which, in and of itself, is not the problem. Deaf culture however, is a subject for another post (or two or three) and, while Karen smiles through it all, these visits are never relaxing. Coming home to any guests, to be sure, is less than ideal after a tough night like Karen had, when she really just needed to walk in, plop down, and unwind.
When I first started dating Karen, and for many years into our marriage, I got along with everyone in her family. Now - not so much. I won't air our dirty laundry in public, and there is no possible way for me to abbreviate the history that has led to the tension between us, but...things have happened. Despite my efforts to "be nice," I just can't seem to forgive these things and put it all behind me. Even knowing how much it bothers Karen (for whom I'd do anything), I cannot muster the will to make that happen.
So, I'm left wondering: How many other people have made such a determined effort to become a better person? I would hope that most people don't have to. I know that, for my friends, the best things about them do not seem manufactured or forced. They're great people, and they make me want to be a better person. Still, as hard as I've "worked on myself," I can't seem to get past this...spiteful, vindictive inability to forgive. Why?
I've finally figured it out: I can forgive anyone who wrongs me. I cannot, however, forgive those who wrong the people I love.
Hey...maybe I'm not so ashamed by that, after all.