Loud Peo­ple

The Freeman - - LIFESTYLE -

I’m sure we all un­der­stand the term “loud peo­ple” in the same way. They’re the type that ir­ri­tates, even sick­ens us. They’re noisy and quite a has­sle to be around.

But that’s only as far as their typ­i­cal de­scrip­tion goes. At times, we wel­come loud peo­ple into our lives. We even call them our friends.

When we’re lonely or hav­ing con­cerns that we want to clear off our mind, we want to bom­bard our­selves with noise. We know, of course, that it won’t as­suage our sit­u­a­tion in a sig­nif­i­cant way. But, some­how, it can pro­vide mo­men­tary dis­trac­tion from our trou­bles.

At least the noise of loud friends is much eas­ier to deal with than the big prob­lems that weigh us down. That’s what I mean by mo­men­tary dis­trac­tion, mo­men­tary re­lief. It’s eas­ier to ig­nore bois­ter­ous, non­sen­si­cal talk than it is to veer one­self from bills that are get­ting due or the un­faith­ful­ness of a beloved.

Thus, loud peo­ple are not to­tally nui­sance, con­sid­er­ing their use­ful­ness in sav­ing our san­ity from our real trou­bles. Un­til they be­gin to hold us in their debt for our tol­er­at­ing their noise. Now it’s like you have to thank some­one for spilling his drink on your shirt.

It’s some­times the fault of our so-called so­cial graces. We thank some­one for drop­ping by even if we’d rather be alone; we are the ones to apol­o­gize to the fel­low who ac­ci­den­tally steps on our toe. We think it’s good man­ners. Trou­ble is, it may look dif­fer­ently to the other guy.

Po­lite­ness is of­ten mis­taken for meek­ness, tol­er­ance for sub­servience. I had a friend with whom I was al­ways com­pli­ant. Very sel­dom did I op­pose his wishes and ideas, es­pe­cially when do­ing so would put our friend­ship at risk.

I al­lowed him to have the up­per hand in our friend­ship. I felt he needed my sup­port for his frag­ile ego. Mu­tual sup­port, I knew, was an es­sen­tial dy­namic be­tween friends. Al­though things were go­ing one-way in our case, I didn’t mind; friends were not sup­posed to count their in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions in the re­la­tion­ship.

This friend of mine was nei­ther bois­ter­ous nor ac­tu­ally noisy. But, to me, he was “loud” just the same. His care­fully veiled self-cen­tered ways screamed, “No­tice me!”

Our con­ver­sa­tions were al­most al­ways about him: what he thought, what he was do­ing, what else he planned to do. Now and then he would ask what I thought of the sto­ries he told. I had to be very care­ful, ac­cen­tu­ate my praises, tone down my dis­ap­proval; oth­er­wise a wind­ing ar­gu­ment would en­sue.

The guy would make big fuss of lit­tle mat­ters – es­pe­cially if these were lit­tle mat­ters about him. He made me feel I mat­tered only be­cause I was around him, that I had no im­por­tance of my own. I felt third-class.

There’s no ques­tion he was bet­ter off than I was. He had wealth, some public im­age too. Not to men­tion that he was very much in the so­cial cir­cle, be­cause – at his in­sis­tence – he had spe­cial tal­ents. He was into politics, busi­ness, the arts, and char­ity works.

He once ran for public of­fice and lost. In de­fense for such de­feat he claimed be­ing cheated, and that it was ac­tu­ally “the peo­ple’s loss, not his.” Last week, he sur­prised me with a phone call – he was run­ning again in the next elec­tions!

With great ef­fort, I have since suc­cess­fully dis­tanced my­self from this per­son. It’s been a long time that I haven’t heard of and from him. I dread be­ing within his sphere again.

There is some­thing I’ve come to re­al­ize about be­ing around loud peo­ple: You can grow deaf in their noise that you will no longer hear your own self.

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