I was slurping down the remnants of a bloody delicious beef pho, when SpaGirl Kris called me. “Hey Sar, come downstairs,” she said, “we’re bouncing ideas around for the next event.”
The cafe downstairs is a steamy sort of confused set-up; flaky meat pies sit poolside the green soup in the sweaty hot-cupboard. The bathroom wall carries a faintly rank ammonionic odour and a slightly torn, laminated sign imploring visitors to “Please Wash Your Hand Before Returning To Work,” gummed to the tiles with ageing blu tack.
On the way to the table, I popped over to say hello to two of my old investment banking colleagues, both of whom I am very fond, exchanged the usual warm hugs and air kisses, and tried to catch up with months of lives in minutes.
“How have you been?” came the question. Cue stopped music, the ohhhh so casual question.
Yes, this is where it went wrong, Dear Reader.
Small Voice, you know, the one with more spunk than Platitude, squeaked “It’s been one hell of a ride. I’ve finally embraced anxiety and depression, stood face to face with reality and decided ‘enough’.”
“Guys,” she continued silently, while Platitude stood dumbfounded, jaw dropping, “there’ve been days when I’ve stayed in bed with my head buried, struggling to find the energy just to bloody keep going. I’ve grappled with relevance, identity, and the raging dissonance of silence, for fear of judgement. BUT, I’m tackling it head on with love and compassion. Can I tell you this process is no champagne cocktail party, but when I stop to feel, I’m actually in pretty good sha……pe.”
At this point, Small Voice got elbowed out of the way by Platitude, who cut in with “great thanks, really good.”
Small Voice is now sulking in the corner with a bar of Raspberry Intense Lindt and a herbal tea, muttering “great thanks, really good? What the F*ck was that, Platitude?”
Had Small Voice spoken up, the guys probably would have understood you know, but it just wasn’t the right time for her.
So, imagine, had Small Voice spoken up, I mean really, would my friends have gasped in horror, would the pies have thrown their edges over their middles and dived into the soup? Would it really have been so terribly serious? Or would we have connected more meaningfully?
Was this vignette more about courage and honesty, or applying an ‘appropriate’ filter? Who needed to take control in that moment, Platitude or Small Voice?
I don’t know what the right answer is here, perhaps it’s about the degree of closeness you have with your friend. With the barista, let’s stick to “great thanks, and I’ll have a big fat chocolate muffin with that.” On the other end of the spectrum, someone with whom you’ve shared crisis, snot and dribble before in life surely warrants more honesty. It’s the people in the middle I’m not so sure about, so how about we figure it out over some of the coming posts. Unless I get distracted by something bright and shiny. Which is entirely possible.
This I do know, Small Voice, right now, We’ve got this, You and I, We’ve got this. Platitude, hang ten.
Dear Reader, what’s been your experience in these situations, who speaks up?