[This is a continuation of a topic from my previous post.]
Q. Who is the most annoying person you know? Why?
Her name is Pam. I met her in 7th grade when she moved to our town. She is the product of a couple of people who didn't want her. She has no boundaries, no manners, no class, and thinks nothing of pushing her way into someone's life.
She pushed her way into mine when I was being raised to "be nice to people." That, to me, meant having to put up with them. Pam had no radar to tell when she wasn't wanted. Unless someone got downright violent and threatened her, she'd keep coming around, trying to be friends.
With the kind of home atmosphere she lived in, it was very easy to feel sorry for Pam. And so, I dealt with her all through high school, tolerating her tendency to be my "shadow" and copy everything from my clothes to my taste in music. I had no way to explain what introversion felt like, so every waking moment during the summer I could expect her at my house.
Senior year of high school she pushed my last button by openly rejoicing in the fact that I had broken up with a guy she didn't like. I completely blew my stack at her in front of practically the entire school and enjoyed a blissful 3 years or so without her presence. However, time took the edge off the irritation and when I heard she'd gotten married I naively thought she'd grown up and would be easier to deal with.
Pam, however, was not wired for maturity. At this writing, she is a few months shy of her 50th birthday. She is still boy crazy. Her first marriage ended, to be followed by about 10 years' worth of promiscuous sex that would have boggled the mind of Howard Stern. Her parents openly rejected her, so she went through a series of rented rooms, low-paying jobs and boyfriends.
Then she met Ed. She and Ed have been married now for nearly 17 years. She managed to stay faithful to him for exactly one year, and then I started getting the calls again from her about "this guy at work." She has not slowed down or stopped since then. She and Ed went through a phase in which he tried to "put his foot down" about her playing around, but the fact that they're still together tells me that he's every bit as dysfunctional as she is. She is openly active in “swingers’ clubs,” and though she will fixate on one guy or another, sometimes for years, especially if they keep her at a distance, she has also admitted that sticking to one guy will never work for her. She is always hungry, never satisfied. I would conservatively estimate that she has had something in the neighborhood of 500 sexual partners.
Pam is simply from another dimension. She has a compelling, sexual quality to her that really draws people (especially men). Many people are initially convinced that what she does is "put on a dumb blonde act." After awhile it becomes clear that it's no act. But her other compelling quality is the ability to inspire pity, and soft-hearted, well-meaning souls find her very hard to shake loose of.
About 4 years ago I was going through a fairly bad patch, financially. Carl was having medical problems and we were in the midst of getting him tested at various facilities. My car was dying and my remedy was to stay home as much as possible and not take the car anywhere except work and the occasional shopping trip. Pam decided she wanted to visit me (we lived about 850 miles apart). Despite telling her it was not a good time, she pushed and pushed and pushed, then finally bought a plane ticket and informed me she was coming. She was convinced that a visit from her would be "helpful" to me. She said she'd bring lots of money and pay for anything we did.
She arrived and promptly started asking to be taken to various stores (especially wig shops, her favorite). Predictably the car died. I ended up having to rent a car to squire her around. My mood was foul and unfriendly, and still she never noticed a thing. When she got back on the plane a few days later, I called everyone I knew and hysterically told them "I'm free!"
It was The Voice of Reason, better known as my cousin Pat, who finally got my head turned around straight with regard to Pam.
"Tell me," she said, "do you get anything out of this relationship at all, or are you the one doing all the giving, while she does all the taking?"
It was so simple. And the remedy was equally obvious. Pam had already told me about another friend who "out of nowhere" stopped picking up the phone or returning calls. "What was I to do?" Pam said, "She kept ignoring me so finally I quit calling her."
Once she was back home, I simply declined to return her calls or to answer the phone when she called. Thus ensued about four months' worth of harangues and threats, such as "Don't be too surprised if what goes around comes around and you start having bad luck because of the way you've treated me." Pam often bragged about "lighting black candles" against people who had "wronged" her. However, eventually she realized her efforts were fruitless and closed with a short note saying "Don't ever call me again." That was one request I'd have no trouble complying with.
Fast forward about 19 months. I had just moved to my current residence and the phone rang. Caller ID gave me no information. And there was that awful, Brooklyn-accented, whiny voice of hers, half crying about how nothing was going well in her life and she really needed me there to talk to, and she really missed our friendship. How, she wanted to know, could I possibly be able to close the door on a relationship of over 30 years?
I was not about to get sucked in again, under any circumstances. I told her that plenty of married couples stay together for more than 30 years only to split because there was no happiness left in the relationship. I told her I never really liked her but merely put up with her from a sense of obligation. I enumerated every fault, every shortcoming, every annoying habit I could recall, from 7th grade to our last time together. And still she argued: "But ... but ... but ..." She was determined to wear me down.
Finally, I said "I don't want to talk to you anymore, don't call me anymore, and I'm hanging up. Goodbye."
That, to date, was the last contact. I hope she has finally gotten it through her head that she'd better do what she can to improve the relationships she still has, because I'm out of her life and determined to keep her out of mine.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
[This is a continuation of a topic from my previous post.]