Letters and Diary Non-Fiction posted August 18, 2016


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Memoir

To the Point of Being Foolish

by michaelcahill














 
Loyalty, determination, patience and perseverance-- those sound like some pretty admirable characteristics. I suppose they are. I accept those as traits I have in abundance. I’ll even go as far as to say, in all humility, they are good things, and I’m a pretty decent sort for having them.
 
Before you add ego-maniacal, arrogant punk to the list; let me begin to analyze some of those lofty attributes of mine. Well, ours, many, or most, of us feel those are traits we possess. I mean, do any of you claim to be disloyal? Are you one of those folks who lack determination? Patience? Well, I guess lacking patience many will admit to. Lacking patience doesn’t seem all too damming a trait. Being impatient might even indicate an energetic let’s-go-get- ‘em-right-now kind of soul. So, maybe patience is over-rated.
 
Perseverance though, that’s a good thing, yes? The wherewithal to endure against all odds, to stand tall where others wilt and wither-- that’s a good thing certainly. The cliché “beating a dead horse” comes to mind though. We associate such an action with perseverance. We’ve all seen some poor soul who keeps beating against a brick wall with bloody hands when everyone knows, the wall is not going to crumble. It’s downright foolish behavior in such a case. It is perseverance though, isn’t it?
 
I began speaking of loyalty. I am considered loyal to a fault, a good thing. Yet, the phrase itself comes with its own caveat— “To a fault”. Well, well, well … it seems the magical glow has quickly dulled on your boy here. I didn’t remain such a stellar beacon of humanity for very long. None of us do, once you get to know us, do we? Yep, we’re all human, and not a single one of us is perfect.
 
Still, maybe I’m a pretty good guy anyway. I’ve been around a long time. I’m trying to discover that very thing. I’ve found writing about it is often a surprisingly revelatory way. Things seem to appear on these pages unannounced, and often uncalled for, if you ask me. Ahhh … I guess no one asked, but still, some shocking revelations, to me at least.
 
There are a couple traits I find unusual in myself. Part of my bent towards extreme loyalty is a natural tendency towards monogamy. This seems to be genetic. I do find the morality of it compelling, but I’d be lying if I claimed morality as the mitigating factor in my decision. It’s perceived as such, and I admit I allow the perception, and take the kudos accompanying it.
 
Truth is, when I have my girl it takes care of the whole “girl” issue for me. I have no interest in having “another girl”. What a hassle anyway. I just don’t see other girls when I have my girl. I’m only interested in my girl. Is it some great attribute I possess? Nope, just my nature.
 
It is interesting to note: Hardly anyone believes me, including most of my girls. I seldom run across a man who believes me … that should tell you ladies something about us men. I rarely have had my own woman totally believe me either. In fact, most of my girls have believed just the opposite. I’ve been the object of false accusations all my life. It began with my insane mother, and it continues to this day. No one seems to believe I’m perfectly happy with the girl I have, whomever she may be, and most of all HER. Ain’t that just a bitch? Jeesh!
 
I actually feel guilty most of the time and have most of my life. The truth is, I haven’t done anything that should cause me guilt, but constant accusations take their toll.
 
“So … you like her?”
 
“Like who?” (you see; I know where it’s going already. Experience. But I still have to play the game. If I react with NOT THIS AGAIN!!!! It’s even worse.)
 
“You know damn well who. You couldn’t take your eyes off of her and she couldn’t get enough of you.”
 
“The waitress?” (I already know it’s the waitress. I don’t know why she was talking to me. Not my fault.)
 
“See? Yes, duh, the waitress.”
 
“I can’t help it if she talked to me. She was our waitress. She’s paid to talk to us. What was I supposed to do, tell her to go to hell?”
 
Well, on it goes from there. Grilled about the waitress, I end up defending myself against something non-existent. Of course, I’m angry. Naturally, the anger means I’m guilty. I do feel guilty, which makes me seem guilty. She treats me as guilty. Good times.
 
Still, loyalty is good, no? I remained loyal to my first wife. Our marriage lasted ten years. I left my high school sweetheart for her when I entered college. We can factor in monumental mistakes when it comes to me, by the way. I seldom make mistakes, but when I do they are spectacular in nature … another story for another time.
 
My first wife turned out to be an unfriendly lesbian, who happened to be unaware of her sexuality. I knew long before she did. As confident as I was, it did affect me over time. Honestly, it devastated me for a while, also another story for anther time. Her sister, on the other hand was sweet and quite straight. Her sister married an overbearing unpleasant gentlemen herself. We spent a great deal of time together, silently commiserating with each other, and strong affections grew between us. I never spoke of my love for her, nor she for me. She had that same loyalty quality. There we were, two loyal souls, just as miserable as can be. Too bad we had the whole loyalty thing going on, we might’ve been happy. But, loyalty’s a great thing, isn’t it?
 
Are you applauding me? I remained faithful to my first wife, even though she treated me terribly. I could’ve had a beautiful affair with her lovely sister, but I passed it by as being wrong. I did the right thing even though it cost us both a chance to be happy. I might add, it did nothing for our respective spouses either, as both marriages were doomed.
 
Or, are you thinking, “What an idiot! He’s stuck in this doomed marriage while this lovely woman is standing right in front of him ready to make him happy.”
 
Of course, no one would’ve known all the facts. I would’ve been the lousy cheating bastard who ran out on his wife with her SISTER no less, a total cad if there ever was one.
 
Life isn’t so black and white … nor what it always seems.
 
Determination, patience and perseverance all go hand in hand I believe. They are a package, at least in my case they are. I learned them through adversity, I suppose. I think they are inbred as well, genetic if you will.
 
The genetics of who we are can’t be discounted. When I sit down to play the piano, it should never leave my mind that it is a gift. It IS NOT something for me to shove in someone’s face and say, “Look what I can do!” It isn’t something I CAN do; it is something I was BORN to do. There is a huge difference there. If I had been born to be 6’ 5”, 240 pounds and could lift a Volkswagen, it would be the same thing.
 
On the other hand, the ability to divert a piece on a barely related tangent IS a learned skill, and I DO take full credit for it. As my teacher’s in grammar school said, “Michael doesn’t apply himself and he hangs out with the wrong crowd.” or my sweet Grandma Bobo pointed out, “A “D” in handwriting. He’ll never amount to anything.” All true and all points of pride, I don’t, I do, I didn’t. End of tangent ...
 
So, D, P & P ... I have those in abundance, even unique abundance, it might be alleged. I admit to being worthless if a task is too easy or mundane. I crave challenge and adversity. I’m not sure why or how this came about. I’m likely to fail if given something ordinary to do. However, if I’m told the task at hand is impossible and to attempt it is an act of desperation, there is a very good chance I will save the day. I find it a rather curious persona myself. It’s true though.
 
It’s been of benefit to me. I managed to open and successfully run a small business for ten years when “the book” predicted a near one hundred percent chance of failure in my circumstance. I set the record in the mile run in high school even though I wasn’t all that good a runner. Yes, I came close to death doing it. I passed the firefighter’s test at age forty-five because they told me I was too old to take it. Near death factored in there as well, but I passed and it was gruelling, believe me.
 
It’s all just a strange personality trait, I suppose. Sometimes it’s a good thing and I do things out of sheer will. The drawback can be huge, however. There are many, many times I should’ve given up and didn’t. My business was burglarized and wiped out. I still kept the doors open for a year afterwards. There was no chance of recovery. I put myself through a living hell where every phone call and every visitor wanted payment for a bill or some other need I had no way of fulfilling. But somehow, I managed to keep the doors open. It had to be the most foolish and bullheaded year of my life, pure torture, just to prove I could do it. The reason? I couldn’t tell you, I just do things like that sometimes.
 
Well, this isn’t the whole story. But it’s a start, and enough to demonstrate a premise. Loyalty, determination, patience and perseverance sound like wonderful, positive traits. But honestly, they don’t mean a damn thing until you see them in action with the individual applying them.
 
I guess I’m not really all that wonderful after all. I still look mysterious in a cowboy hat though, and ... 



"I’ll never leave your side."


"Ahhhh. Yeah, well that's okay. I'll be fine. Anyway, I'll need some ... ah, privacy here."

"Yeah. I know. Okay, you know what I mean. Outside the door. I'll be right outside the door."

"Please, don't hover outside the door."

"Yeah, okay. At the counter. We'll have a drink and ... "

"Look. Enough is enough. I'm trying to be polite here ... "

"Okay, okay! At least give me you're numb .... "

"Buddy, I'll call the police if I have to. Will you please stop following me?"


Well, as you can see, not everyone appreciates the whole loyalty thing ....









 


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No idea what to write about in this contest. Sooooo, I figured I'd just start blathering and then at some point stop. Ya know, the usual. :))

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