Have you ever noticed that things people used to find endearing when they first met you turned into colossal character flaws as your relationship grew?
This isn’t limited to romantic partners, although this tendency to turn your once-positive traits into character flaws is probably responsible for more than a few breakups.
From Wit to Sarcasm
It wasn’t that long ago that I was witty and charming.
Now, not so much.
If someone asks me, “Did you get a haircut?” and I wittingly and charmingly respond, “No, my hair is receeding into my ever-expanding head,” I receive the following rebuke:
“You’re so sarcastic!”
The words spew out of the person’s mouth, travel the distance between us at the speed of Dick — Jeff Bezos’ rocket ship — and land squarely on my freshly coiffed cranium.
But my wittiness and charminess aren’t the only vestiges of my once-admired traits for which I am admonished.
What Brothers and Sisters?
My ability to entertain myself and look deep within my soul for the answers to life’s big questions — a skill I learned because my imaginary friends didn’t help — morphed into:
“You’re a selfish only child!”
“What can I say? My parents reached perfection the first time around, so there was no need to continue to populate the planet with lesser beings,” I respond (wittingly and charmingly, of course).
That response is further evidence that I’m so sarcastic!
Incoming Body Parts
To continue the prosecution’s argument of my character’s demise, my former admirer bestows even more “compliments” upon me.
“You’re an asshole!”
I always respond with a smile and a “Thank you.” I might be a sarcastic, selfish only child, asshole, but I’m polite.
And when my politeness is greeted with stares of disbelief — and what looks like what could be the prototype for the exploding head emoji — I point out that being polite is simply my way of hiding the hurt their words caused.
Susceptible to Stimuli
My accuser then does a 360 and not-so-lovingly suggests …
“You’re so sensitive. You’re even more sensitive than the most sensitive person I know, and that’s a lot of feelie feelie!”
Who knew that a sarcastic, selfish only child, asshole (um, me) could be all those things and be sensitive at the same time?
Well, I did grow up in New York and having done so, I’m a melting pot of complex emotions, equal parts light and dark, embracing all of me, and apologizing for none of it.
That used to mean I was confident and self-assured. People (nameless, generic people because, let’s be clear. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead in this article, is purely coincidental) used to find that very sexy.
But somewhere between my move from Brooklyn to Southwest Broward County, Florida, my confidence and self assuredness became undesirable.
The Concrete Jungle’s Flip Side
“You’re such a New Yorker!”
Notice how adding “such” to anything turns it into a not-so-casual affront.
But I also love it when someone goes toe-to-toe with me and flings them right back at me. In fact, I’m disappointed when they don’t.
But here’s the caveat: as long as they’re not being mean spirited.
Fling a mean-spirited zinger at me, or worse, at someone I love, and you will meet someone who makes the sarcastic, selfish only child, asshole, New Yorker look like a baby wrapped up in a blankie with puppy and kitten pictures on it.
My Evil Gemini Twin
Anyone who thinks they have every right to fling barbs at me but gets mean and defensive when they are the flingee, should turn the mirror around and look at themselves.
This leads me to my all-time favorite endearing-turned-evil character flaw:
Well, of course, I’ve changed, haven’t you? Haven’t we all? Isn’t that the point of life? To change, to grow, to evolve?
The implication, however, is that change is what made me a sarcastic, selfish only child, asshole, and sensitive New Yorker.
But it didn’t.
If anything, change allowed me to wear my character flaws as badges of honor, discard the ones that hurt people, and embrace those that make me unique.
That’s why my standard answer to all these put downs is:
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
Throwing humor in the face of an insult diffuses it in a New York minute.
And laughter, my friends, is not a bad thing at all.