Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Like You, I Like You Not (And I'm Wrong)

So, you know when you meet someone and you’re all “Hmm, I have a really great feeling about this person” and then that person turns out to be like a serial arsonist or something? Well, that’s a constant problem that plagues me, because I’m a terrible judge of character. I misjudge pretty much everyone. All the time. Over a year before I started dating Geo, we were roommates. I spent hours in my room crying about how I had to live with him and share a bathroom with him. I thought he was mean. I thought he was arrogant. I thought we had NOTHING in common and he was out to ruin my life. I was so completely wrong. One day, I was all “Wait. He’s actually okay. Maybe one of my friends would like him. Actually, no, I’m just going to keep him to myself because I only now just realized he’s pretty much the greatest guy ever.” Normal.

I also have made that blunder with a bunch of other truly wonderful people in my life. Several years ago, my now-friend Valerie started working at the magazine I worked at. She strolled in with her fancy Ivy-league-education and $10 words and I thought, “Man, she’s got some nerve.” So I didn’t make an effort to get to know her. Several months – and way too many missed Work Happy Hour opportunities – later, I come to discover she’s super awesome, and one of my favoritest (one of MY fancy public university $10 words) people to hang out with. How had I gotten it soooo wrong?

It wouldn’t be so bad if it turned out that everyone I didn’t immediately like was actually a Geo or Val. That’d be lovely! But, my hasty, passionate first-impression-readings go the other way too. I had a roommate in college who I was SURE was destined to be my best friend for life. She moved in with Kim and me, and we got along like gangbusters. Then, whoops! Turns out she was horribly crazy, bought and then RETURNED a pet, AND she was a Food Stealer (the worst of all the stealers). Then I was stuck between trying to stay on her good (non-crazy) side without making her think I still wanted to hang out with her. (You know, ‘cause she was crazy.) It was a rough year for me, you guys.

It’s so counterintuitive, too. I gravitate towards sassy/self-deprecating/brash/abrasive people. They make me laugh, or they make ME look like the nicest person on the planet. So, you can understand the appeal. Until, probably 7 times out of 10, it turns out they’re just jerks and bullies and idiots (sometimes all three). I’ll be all, “Yay! He’s opinionated and sassy like me! We’re Friend Soul Mates! Uh oh, hold the phone…crap, he’s also horribly racist! ABORT FRIENDSHIP!”

It’s especially tempting for me to like someone everyone else seems to hate. They’ll be all “Ew, Simone* is mean and gross and not funny and no one likes her.” And I’ll feel bad for her because I think, “Rude! Some people think I’M mean and gross and not funny! And that’s just NOT always true!” So that’s when I swoop in to save the poor schmuck’s day by declaring “She’s just misunderstood! She’s really funny and clever and awesome! You guys are just dummies.” And WHOOMP! Turns out, everyone was right, and Simone IS a big ol’ jerky loser. Foiled again.

What is my problem? I immediately assume that if someone is too nice, they are either fake or boring or trying to ruin my life. Alternatively, if someone is horribly offensive and crass, I’m convinced they are top-notch friend material. It’s just so – inefficient. You know? Then I have to go back and apologize to the person I initially wrote off, beg for forgiveness, and pester them until they inevitably fall in love with me. Meanwhile, I ALSO have to discreetly remove the insane person from my life without them realizing it. It just takes so much TIME.

I know they say "Don't judge a book by its cover" but I just can't help it. I ONLY choose books by their cover, so it's not like I can turn it off. But maybe if I meet you in public someday, don't be offended if I hate you, and don't be too cocky if I like you.

* “Simone” is a real person, but not their real name. I know a lot of people with a lot of different names, so I didn’t want to inadvertently rename that particular villain someone else’s name. I thought to myself “I need a pseudonym that NO ONE I know is named, so no one gets offended.” Naturally, I came up with Raven Simone. That’s SO Raven…

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