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Should Old Acquaintances Be Forgot?

In the Scottish dialect of the old New Year's Eve song Auld Lang Syne, the composer posits the question: Should old acquaintances be forgot?

The short answer to this is "Sometimes."

One example will suffice. A "friend" of mine emailed me the other day and although she is not a writer, her words spoke plenty. Her first rebuke was that I don't answer her calls, and this is a claim I cannot deny. But the accusation was caustic, mean-spirited--it was as if I had neglected to visit her in the hospital, that's how grievous my omission was. She insinuated so much by those few harsh words.

Why did she call? Purportedly to inform me of her physical status and that of her dog Murph. Being the obedient child I still am, I did call her afterwards, and we spoke. Mostly S spoke of her new illness--osteoarthritis of the spine--and her dog's possible diagnosis of valley fever. I listened and listened and listened until I just couldn't take it any more. There were no more assaults on my neglect of our relationship, but she remained as ego-centric as she always was. I really hadn't expected differently. No questions about my dogs and the health of my oldest and cancer-diagnosed Mork. No questions about the health of my husband. No questions about our future plans to buy a home in Flagstaff. No questions about my writing (she knows I write a blog but I am positive she has never gone to my FB page or my blog Humor for All).

So when S ran out of steam for a millisecond, I claimed the advantage and told her I had to go--she should keep me updated on Murph (I don't really want her to call me back, though, because first of  all, I don't enjoy her monologues; and second, I don't want to hear more bad news about another sick dog.)

I fear that she is one old acquaintance that should be forgot. Another one is a former close friend in NYC. When I really felt emotionally weak, I was not answering the phone. Period. Ever since I relocated to Arizona, T and I had maintained a friendship that deteriorated gradually as she supplied angry, hysterical stories of her relationships with family members and other friends; as she became ill, first with seizures, then ankle surgery, knee surgeries, and a totally destroyed apartment due to a fire (she denies causing it but at the time, she did smoke). As a result of the ruined apartment, her dog suffocated. I have to say I felt worse for the dog than I did for my friend. She was being treated for PTSD and living in a longterm motel/hotel until her apartment could be restored.

By the time she returned to her apartment, I felt like I had lived through the horror with her. But I was depleted in spirit and succor. I was understanding and compassionate until the end--when I did not have the emotional strength to hear any more of her crimes and misdemeanors. However she did not give up easily. According to my husband (who answered the phone and retrieved voice mails) T was begging to talk to me. And I had involuntarily become the Wicked Witch of the West. I could not re-start a relationship that gave me nothing and asked too much of me.

 I have never regained the patience and stamina to re-establish our friendship. I can predict how it would go. After a few minutes or half-hours of bland chit-chat, she would want to know why I didn't want to speak to her. And I wouldn't be able to tell her the truth: that she was boring, narcissistic and unpleasant to converse with. Now I ask you, how could I tell her these truths and more? And she'd want to see me, meet me in NYC or another place and I'd have to wiggle out of this somehow. I would be spreading pain around, opening a wound that had already scabbed over.

Better to not return her calls. Better to have her think I'm a rotten person who cares only about myself. So she has become another old acquaintance that will be forgot.

I know that the past two or three years have turned me into the quintessential hermit. That is to be expected when you don't answer the phone or make lunch dates.When my husband suggests we go out with friends he knows from work, I turn my nose up. It's too uncomfortable and too much time away from my animals who have limited life expectancies. I haven't become a total hermit but I'm headed in that direction, mostly because of my priorities. I write, I take care of my animals, I need to look after my welfare, not distract myself and thus lose parts of my identity by insinuating myself into the lives of other people.

I just googled Auld Lang Syne and it's about old friends meeting again and rejoicing. I don't think this song will be my mantra for 2019, but this sentiment doesn't have to apply to you. I once heard that if you have 1 or 2 good friends in your life, you should count yourself lucky.

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit
Sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl't in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine,
And we'll tak a right guid willie-waught
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye'll be your pint' stowp,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And days of long ago !

For old long ago, my dear
For old long ago,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago.

We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
For old long ago.

We two have paddled (waded) in the stream
From noon until dinner time,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since old long ago.

And there is a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we will take a goodwill draught (of ale)
For old long ago!

And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago!


This blog actually continues on Facebook's The Dysfunctional Family page. I determined that readers were more apt to read my blogs if they were posted in a more familiar venue. And what could be more familiar than Facebook?!

Although it has its faults (many of them technological blind alleys that I have no idea how to free myself from) Facebook is the choice of many people for personal introspection by looking into the lives of others.

Of course I am the prototype for the Dysfunctional Family what with having a sister I have no relationship with, two parents who have passed away, and a passel of cousins, nephews, nieces and other assorted relatives.

But the focus will be on ME. This is my opportunity to show off all my warts such as being childfree, emotionally wacky, frequently depressed, and addicted to companion animal keeping.

Janice Arenofsky, blog author, freelance writer and fellow dysfunctional
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