I had a rather disturbing revelation this weekend. It resulted from a somewhat unpleasant incident. I was doing a publicity stunt one evening for the FSM (you remember them - the Fuzzy Sado-Massochists?). During the evening I was approached by a man I've know almost my whole life. I loathe this man. He is an embarassment to the species. He is the slimiest, sleeziest con-artist I have ever met. And he thinks he's charming and everyone loves him. (To illustrate how truly despicable this man is, I shall give you a little of his history, so that you may better sympathize with me in a few paragraphs' time: He spent several years in a federal penitentary for illegally hiring unfit women to act as surrogate mothers for infertile women. One of the women whom he contracted died as a result of the pregnancy, because this man ignored the docotors' directions that she should never attempt to become pregnant. When he got out of the klink he was deeply in debt, so he told people that he was terminally ill and solicited money to pay his "medical" bills. What a piece of work, eh?)
So there I was on Saturday night, all dooded up in my stunning attire (borrowed from a costume shop), acting as an official representative of the FSM. And who should walk up to me but... you guessed it! Let's call him "Bob," for simplicity's sake. Another of Bob's unfortunate characteristics is that he loves to hug people he barely knows. I've been aquainted with Bob since I was about 5, but I've never considered him a friend and I've not spoken to him for years. Now, I love a good hug, don't get me wrong, but frankly I'd rather suck a grizzly bear's nuts than suffer a squeeze from Bob. (For one thing, I'm fairly sure that if I sucked a grizzly bear's nuts at least one of us would enjoy it, whereas with Bob he doesn't enjoy giving hugs any more than I enjoy getting them from him. He's not nice. He only does it because he thinks it makes people like him. Which goes to show you he's as stupid as he is unethical.) The second he let go of me I felt like I needed a shower.
Following the unfortunate fondle I had to make small talk. I had to stand there and smile and be fucking charming (stop laughing you guys; I am capable of being charming when necessary) and ask how he's doing etc. etc. What I really wanted to do was splash a huge grin across my face and scream "Bob! My god, you're alive! I was sure you'd be dead by now! How ever did you afford the treatment?" so that the whole room could hear.
But I couldn't. Because, of course, I was there in an official capacity and I wasn't at leisure to spout my own opinions. I had to spend the whole evening carefully making sure that I didn't upset or offend anyone, even slimeball ex-cons. Do I need to tell you how much I hated it? And how much I hated myself for allowing myself to be put in a position where I had to play the fool?
This is the crux of the problem: I can't stand having to keep myself in check for the sake of someone else's reputation.
It's a phenomenon I've endured all my life. My mom is a prominent local citizen, and when I got beat up at school (because my mom was a prominent local citizen) I wasn't allowed to hit back. EVER. Why? Because my mom was a pominent local citizen! What a friggin' nightmare. When I left for college I was finally able to live my life for me, and I didn't give two shakes what other people thought of me. I was always completely honest and open with everyone. The result was that I made more friends than I'd ever had in my life, and I was happy for the very first time.
I am now back in a situation where I have to keep my tongue and behavior in check every single day, because even when I'm not working for the FSM in an official capacity, everyone in this shit hole knows who I am, knows where I work, and knows my mum.
Is it selfish of me to want to go back to living for myself, and not have to worry constantly about how my behavior reflects on someone else? I realize that no matter what I'm doing or where I'm working, there will always be times when I have to be on my best boring behavior so that I don't reflect badly on my employer. That's part of being an employee, and I can live with that, provided it's only while I'm working. What drives me nuts here is that it's 24-7. I can't even wear certain of my clothes out of my house because they might be considered risque' by some people, and even if I'm just walking my dog it could still relfect badly on my mum and the FSM. It's what comes from living in an ultra-conservative small town. (My English friends are probably pissing themselves with laughter at that, because most of them spent the better part of 2005 telling me that I dressed either like Miss Marple or a lesbian lumberjack.)
So I've realized that I hate having to worry about what other people think of me, that's the first bit. The second bit is that it makes me wonder if I should even bother contemplating getting married. As long as I'm single, I can live for me and not worry about how my behavior reflects on my family. But if I get hitched, will I spend the rest of my life feeling like this? Would that bond plunge me straight into a situation where I always have to consider someone else before I open my big mouth? That prospect is rather terrifying. I've always understood that marriage means consultation, consideration, and compromise. (That's rather tidy, isn't it?) But does it follow that marriage would be inherently stifling? Would it mean compromising not only on decisions, like where to live, but also compromising my character - how to live. It's not a thought I relish, and though I've never liked the (very realistic) prospect that I might spend the rest of my life alone, perhaps that's better for me.
Perhaps I'm just such a totally selfish individual the very idea of having to put another's reputation ahead of my own is sufficiently repugnant to scare me away from the altar permanantly. I always felt that in marriage I would gain far more than I sacrificed, but maybe that's not the case after all. I may have to reconcile myself to the fact that if I'm hell-bent on being totaly self-centered for the rest of my life, I shouldn't even want to get married. (A dear happiness to men, I'm sure.) It's an interesting notion, and one that I'll have to lend some considerable thought to.
Of course, there's one other option: marry a man who values my character and personality above his repuation. Someone who, like me, understands and loves the freedom that comes from not giving a shit about what other people think, and wouldn't want me to suppress my opinions for his sake. I can honestly say this much: If I loved, trusted, and admired someone enough to even consider marrying him, I wouldn't him to make himself less than he is for my sake. I dunno, maybe there's someone like that out there, maybe not. Not too likely, I reckon, but you never know.