For the past 8+ years, I've been coming to the sickening realization that if left to my own devices, I run the risk of repeating the patterns of my parents' own marriage.
Those of you who know me are already cringing in horror.
But take heart - it will never be that bad, partly because I tend to be hyper aware of things like this, which lessens the chance that I will succumb totally to that biochemical urge to imitate my parents. And it pays to be vigilant, believe me.
Over the past 8+ years I have refined the concepts, in my own twisted mind, of "Tom People" and "George People." George and I are different on so many levels that it can be challenging for us to find mutual friends who appreciate both of us. With the occasional exception rearing his or her head, our social life as a couple tends toward spending time either with Tom People, who appreciate my peculiarness and find George to be slightly abrupt, or George People, who adore George while not-so-secretly wondering what value I could possibly be adding to the relationship.
I hate to be identifying with my mother in this respect, since I am in almost complete disagreement with her on how she handled the personality differences between her & my dad. Yet, since both my dad and George are professional musicians, I do sometimes find myself complaining about the same sorts of things my mom complained about when having to spend large amounts of time with his musician cohorts. Many artists can be self-centered at times, and hard to converse with unless you stick to topics that are of paramount interest to them.
Needless to say, we have a lot of George People artists around us. We hosted a dinner party for some of them last night.
These are actually lovely people that I usually like quite a lot, but they are undeniably George People.
Everything started out nicely enough. I mixed some cocktails (clearly the value that I add, although once everyone is drunk my importance tends to diminish substantially.) We chatted. We sat down to dinner.
Then the conversation turned to opera.
The conversation never got off opera, except for when it turned briefly to symphonic music.
They were here for almost 5 hours.
I don't currently possess the ability to discuss anything about opera or symphonic music for maybe more than 10 minutes. I've seen the major Puccini works. Know a bit about the Ring cycle. And sure, I've heard a lot of the major symphonies. The point is, I just don't really have much to say about any of it. It's just never really taken hold of me as is has to some.
Like to George People.
I felt like such a rube amidst these highly cultured folk. Surely I have enough education, and was well brought up enough, that I should have enough interest in these things to learn to say something intelligent about them. Right? (Nope, guess not.)
At one point, one of our guests told us he had walked out of a perfomance of Parsifal at the Met when he was 12 because he just didn't appreciate the staging.
Another guest commented that he's just never been satisfied with anything presented on stage since he attended a production of Alban Berg's Lulu. (And no, he was not talking about the singer of To Sir With Love, which actually took me a minute to figure out.)
Still another guest took it upon herself to change the CD I had put on only five minutes before, afterward sarcastically commenting "loved it!" in reference to the pseudo-jazz recording made by my Finnish friend Kati. (At one point, while our literati were discussing Sibelius, the subject of the Finnish language came up, and I thought it would be interesting to hear some actual singing in Finnish. I guessed wrong, apparently.)
I was virtually silent for about 2 1/2 hours during this. I simply had nothing to add, and they weren't about to open the floor to other topics.
And then the piece de resistance.
I'm sitting there like an uncultured rube all night. All night long these people are discussing every composer ever born. Wagner, Hindemith, Bruckner, you name it. I have nothing intelligent to add to anything all evening. I make one attempt to present something of interest to the group and I'm publicly rebuked and humiliated in turn.
I'm basically feeling like a total loser. And then George says it:
"Tom, did you remember to tape American Idol?"
It's official now. I'm going to kill him.
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