For the last week, I’ve been sick with the flu. This is my second bout in the last month. It seems I didn’t take the first bout seriously, so it came back to make a believer out of me. Oh, I’m such a believer. I don’t think I’ve ever been this sick. If someone told me I won the lottery, I would probably just roll over and go back to sleep.
But for the moment, which is about 2am, I’m awake and thinking about something that came to my attention recently. No, that’s not entirely accurate. I’ve known some about this for a few years, and my response has been to laugh it off, and mostly because it’s seemed absurd and not important enough for me to get my knickers in a twist. To get so worked up over fandom has seemed a great waste of energy, and for some of us (waves hand vigorously), that’s precious energy.
I hope you don’t mind if I share an experience with you.
When I had been living as a vicar’s wife for about four or five years, I came out of a local hardware store one day, and a young woman I knew was getting out of her car. She saw me and came over to greet me. As she approached, she had a coy smile on her face.
I was about to say something and then she said almost frantically, “I’m so glad to see you!”
Before I replied, I looked at her closely and then said, “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m okay,” and then she hugged me hard. This was someone who was normally very controlled and the last person I would think would give someone a spontaneous bear hug on the street.
As she pulled back, I sort of smiled, laughed and looked at her again as if to say, “What was that for?”
Seeming to hear my thinking, she replied, “I just wanted to do that.”
It felt a little weird even though I did appreciate the hug. But then I noticed her rubbing her eyes as if there were tears in them, and I said, “There is something wrong.”
“No, really, it’s okay. I was upset, but I’m getting over it now.”
“Well, I’m glad it’s passing, but if you ever want to talk, you can.”
That offer was predicated on caring about this young woman and also on one of the first things I learned as a vicar’s wife. People in pain have a great need to talk and especially to someone safe about their thoughts or situations with “safe” being someone who will listen, not condemn and never betray a confidence. I had expected that desire from people to manifest only toward my SO. But it became apparent very quickly that people sometimes selected me to listen, whether I wanted them to or not, because they looked at me as an extension of SO.
When I made the offer to the young woman, I was hinting at discussion for a later date if she needed it. The tubing under my basement bathroom sink had sprung a leak that morning and flooded part of the basement, which was still in a mess, and I really didn’t have time or inclination to listen to anyone at that moment. But the young woman decided to talk right there in the parking lot.
“I don’t understand people. I really don’t.” I was obviously in the dark but waited for her to finish. She said, “I’ve just come from the Annual _________ Luncheon, and…, I’m glad you never go to those things.” I was intrigued, and she continued, “I am never going back. I’m sick of it,” and then she looked at me intently.
This luncheon she had come from is a county wide women’s thing to raise money for a good cause, and it’s considered to be an important event where I live. I had been invited every year I had lived here but had always politely sent my regrets. It’s held in May, and when you’re a parent with kids in school in the U.S., May is crazy. It’s simply the worst time to plan something for women who have school aged children. I had three in school at the time. But I sent the charity group money and volunteers, since I did support their cause.
I will also admit these kinds of functions are not my bag. I had been to enough women’s things to last me a couple of lifetimes by the time I got to this town, and I would be damned if I was going to miss my kids’ events for something like that, and I was damned. The young woman breathed out as if she were exasperated and said, “I love you and [SO], and I feel like I’ve gotten to know you over the last few years. It was hard to listen to you being reamed out.”
I remember thinking, “Wow these ladies take this luncheon attendance really seriously,” and I remember laughing at the thought.
As I stood there chuckling and thinking, the young woman looked miffed at me and asked in a huff, “I’m sorry I told you that, but seriously, why do people do things like that?! Maybe there’s something I don’t know, but you don’t even know these people that well, haven’t done anything to them. I could not believe it!”
I was still laughing at the absurdity of this, and then I noticed a brutal look out of her eyes and it sobered me to respond, “I’m not sure why these women did what they did. Maybe they’re offended I’ve always declined their invitations. Mostly I think they did it because they’re bored,” and then I looked at her directly and said very pointedly, “People do all sorts of things because they’re bored.”
I quickly said goodbye and that I would talk to her later, and I’ve never forgotten the look on her face. Dare I say it was almost an evil look, a look that said I had thwarted something, and later this was confirmed by a pattern she exhibited of creating tensions between people where she could be a kind of savior, and I had refused to let her be my savior that day in front of the hardware store.
This incident made me sad. Sad that her life was so empty that in order to make it meaningful, she had to resort to creating problems. But this seems to happen often when people are bored and unhappy.
So my point for this long winded note is this is how I often see the drama that occurs sometimes in your fandom. Not that it’s peculiar to this group of fans. I’m sure you know it’s just indicative of groups in general. Get enough people together and someone in the group who is bored and unhappy is naturally given to facilitating tensions. I’ve wondered on occasion what that must be like from your perspective. As someone who appears very sensitive, that has got to be hard on you. Yeah, man, I feel for you. But it’s my hope you can just ignore it or ignore it as much as possible.
A Crazy Fan who is here for the fun and never for the drama and hoping everyone can soon move past it
edit: I’ve stripped out the bottom half of this post because the post was just too long, and really, this above makes my point about drama in the fandom. Now I want to go back to what I enjoy doing, which is mostly cutting up and laughing.