Sunday, September 21, 2014

May you live in interesting times...

My ex friend once wrote this ancient "Chinese" curse on a birthday card to me.  At the time, I didn't think much about it.  I didn't know the origin of the saying, nor did it occur to me that she meant me ill.  Given how things turned out in our "friendship", the fact that she put that on a birthday card of all things seems especially suspicious.  Based on my research, no actual Chinese curse exists; the saying is apocryphal.  Apparently, the closest thing is a saying that goes "It's better to live as a dog in peaceful times than a man in times of war."  Some have speculated that the saying was mistranslated by a British diplomat.  Robert F. Kennedy also used it in a speech

Today, on our way to the PX, Bill and I were talking about the so-called ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."  I told him about how my former friend had "wished" me this on my birthday.  Maybe she was trying to tell me something back then and apparently I was too dumb to get it.  She was my enemy, really, and was using me to bolster her own lagging self esteem.  I was just a warm body who could serve as tangible evidence that she had friends.  But she was never really my friend.  Fortunately, I was never in a romantic relationship with her.  I think her ex boyfriends fare worse than anyone.  In fact, I feel pretty sorry for her husband.

I remember one guy she dated told me about how one night, my ex friend got mad and swallowed a whole bunch of grain alcohol.  Her boyfriend at the time, being a good and responsible guy, was worried about her and demonstrated his concern by taking care of her.  A few years later, they broke up.  I remember how she went on and on about what an ass he was.  She had nothing good to say about him, though I remember that he was quite solicitous.  In fact, he was a pretty nice guy all around...  not gorgeous, but  reasonably attractive, very intelligent, witty, and probably way too good for her.  I hope he's living a good life now with someone who treats him better than she did.

I distinctly remember one time my ex friend invited me to her house.  Her ex boyfriend (who was at that time not an ex) was also there.  She decided he needed a haircut.  Despite not having any training in cosmetology or barbering, my ex friend proceeded to cut this poor guy's hair while I looked on.  He had thick, luscious, wavy red hair and I remember him looking more than a bit humiliated as she sheared him like a sheepdog.  Fortunately, when she was finished, it didn't look as horrible as it could have.  It definitely wasn't a professional job, though, and he didn't look too happy with her handiwork.  

I watched her treat another ex boyfriend like a slave.  He always kind of carried a torch for her and she ate it up, even decades after they had ceased to be a couple.  I kind of hope he's wised up and realized that he deserved better.  But then, it took me years to finally dump her, despite wanting to for several years before I actually did it.

I would be lying if I said I didn't still think about her at times.  She was a big part of my life for many years and we did have a lot of fun when we were growing up.  But anyone who puts an "ancient Chinese curse" on a birthday card is definitely not a friend.

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