Dear Andy: The usual thing to do in these cases is to say, well, we can't be boyfriend and girlfriend, but we can say hi now and then (go to the coffee shop together, maybe go to the movies, etc.). This usually goes along with the thought, spoken or -un, "I don't want to hurt your feelings..." or "Please don't take this badly..." or "I know how sensitive you can know you're really a nice guy..." all perfectly fine sentiments, meant to soften the blow on both sides. Whether I actually say hi to you, go to the coffee shop or decide I've got some urgent appointment that afternoon makes no difference, it's just the kind thing to do.
The problem is, I don't think you're all that much of a Nice Guy. You can play the Nice Guy very well: you agree with everything, you pay compliments, your voice is low and gentle, and you're very, very seldom outright angry.'re not. After once, you didn't take me to church anymore. Why? You "sleep in" on Sundays. In other words, you'd agreed to take me to church every long as it didn't conflict with your staying in bed until suppertime. What kind of agreement is that? Wouldn't it be better to have been honest to begin with? I'm quite willing to admit that at times I wasn't the most agreeable person myself, but dealing with your passive-aggression was nerve-wracking -- going through the trouble of making a nice dinner, only to find you eating sardines and chugging orange juice from the carton ten minutes before I got everything on the table....and then not having an appetite made me want to cry. You might want to hide all this behind a cute little dimply smile and a childish "Oh, but I just can't help myself, you see! Look at how sweet and babyish I am! You need a hug! Come and cuddle me right now! Take off your shirt, and I'll suck your titty! Really, I'm so much of a Nice Guy, I'm really just a big kid."
But you aren't a baby, and the reason why you want my shirt off isn't lunch.

Little kids don't get interested in no-money-down real estate, Prem Rawat, or Scientology. They're curious, and run around all the time, and get happy when fire engines come. They demand to get taken to the circus, only to get scared by clowns, get miffed if they can't wear their cowboy shirts to school, but cheer up when you put a smiley face on their sandwich. They want to make things and play games, hang out with other kids, and have wild and thrilling things happen, all the time. What interests you is sex, money, following the worst possible examples of the cult of personality and manipulating people, in between grazing for food, and of all of those, only the last is at all childlike.

These are harsh words, I know. It pains me to say them. As I said, if you were a normal person, I would not be saying anything like this at all. But then, I would have "normal" feedback from you: you'd look pained, or startled, at my first remark, and ask "Why are you saying this? What did I do?" Instead, I might as well have said "Oh, cloudy day we're having. Pity we can't get nearer, I have a cold." When I told you, you flatly denied, instead of apologizing, or finding some reason why you would have said what you did....even if you couldn't remember it. That's human, maybe you thought it was teasing, or funny, or you simply "misspoke".
Perhaps I might have simply chalked your denial up to embarrassment, if it weren't for the fact that you once cornered me in a small galley kitchen, with you stark naked. Or wearing a Speedo, leering at me. Or...inferring, any number of times, that we should have sex, simply because I was a woman and you were a man, and we lived together. No, you said it, and if you were one-half of the person you claim to be, you should have apologized.

You claim to being "a wonderful person", in a voice that sounds like it was on a self-improvement tape. Maybe people at Fellowship House tell you that to bolster your self-esteem. Maybe it's on your affirmations list. But no adult seriously tells another adult how to feel about them, with any good intent. And if you want to call yourself a good-enough adult to handle money, profess an active faith, or have sex, you should be able to take criticism, not with a whine that this doesn't make you feel good, or by refusing to listen, or deciding that it's really about me, and trying to get me to feel like the bad guy.

I don't find you sexually attractive. No, not even given the choice between you and masturbation. You wet the bed and I don't think you're even healthy enough to have sex, much less do it in a way that would be even remotely pleasurable for me. Besides, you're a liar, and I don't hold with your political, religious, and/or aesthetic choices either. Now, ordinarily I would be inclined to overlook a few items, here and there -- I've had perfectly good friendships with people who've been far more different than we are...we came from the same school, for heavens sake!...but what you ask of me is the equivalent of me asking you to join the Skinheads .

We just don't fit! I'm never going to think that Carleton Sheets and Prem Rawat are anything but liars and con men, and I think L. Ron Hubbard was worse, all promoting a sociopathic worldview that exhausts the pocketbooks of its adherents, while draining them of everything but a crass, shallow, selfishness that blights everyone around them. Maybe you don't think so -- that what you've learned in all these places are perfectly sound and ethical techniques that, if applied, can only bring you a vigorous, healthy mind and body, deep, fulfilling relationships, great wealth, personal happiness and spiritual growth. You are well within your rights to think that way, but I'm also well within my rights to try to avoid you, particularly if I think you might make me unhappy.
I find it hard to believe that you can't find someone you like that you might be more sympathetic to your ideals: Debbie, Sandra, there must be a dozen other women at Fellowship that share your same general background and interests. If I'm so cruel to you, as you seem to imply, I can't understand why you insist on wanting to hook up with me. I can't seem to remember us having any kind of a good time together, no matter what we did, you'd always get nervous and act up or I'd get nervous, hoping not to hurt you. Part of this is the fabric of the society in which we live: men and women live under an uncertain time, where the power structure is never clear, and I can understand how you'd much rather have things less chaotic and more under some kind of control. The people that have taught you how to sell things and manipulate people know this, and have taught you that you can and should do whatever you need to do to get what you want. That I have my wants and desires is well, something else.

But you might counter, you are a wonderful person, a millionaire in the making, a success in every aspect of his life, a spiritually progressed being who makes the world better in every way! Those words, when said to a truly good and ethical person, mean that you should keep yourself to an even higher standard than other people as far as telling the truth, making good on promises, treating themselves in a healthy fashion, and keeping some equilibrium as far as sexual matters go. It's taken for granted that such a person would have the capacity for self-reflection to realize their limitations, also -- no matter how happy you might be with your own appearance, only a very few people qualify to have their faces on the cover of Vogue. (Sad, but true.) It is one indication I have that you are not a good and ethical person, but a very bad man, that you've chosen to take these words as meaning "boast that you're Superman, act like a toddler, and never take responsibility for your errors". It's part of your bad nature, not your good one, that you brag about "your work with the homeless", as if I didn't know what your "work" actually is like. It's part of your manipulativeness that you offer to do things for me -- based on your track record, I don't think for a minute that you would ever make good on any of it. Maybe it's because the drugs you take are draining you of your humanity, maybe it's your poor choice of role models, but I, for one, don't need to have this kind of behavior around me. You're just making things worse for yourself when you try to insist how great you are in the face of so much that I see has gone wrong with you. If you want to blow your own horn all over town, fine, but don't expect me to like the noise, especially when the tone's off-key, and the music's dull, and I've heard this song many times before.

Good-bye Andy. When we met in Utopian Literature in High School, you were a thin, shy, fellow, who wasn't at all interested in me sexually. We were just polite together, and when our teacher tried to play cult leader (like so many others in the 1970's) I simply balked. I grokked a wrongness. I wanted to study philosophy, and instead of Plato, and Whitehead, and Hegel and Kant, I was referred to novels about contemporary Germany that I needed more than simply understanding words, I needed life experience. I can understand how you balked. I can understand how you may have decided to start talking about how you were God in front of your parents, since the idea of most of Huxley's and Heinlein's writings points to the central fact that each human being is a God unto themselves, and the sheer fact of putting those three letters together (G-O-D) might feel more than transgressive to a Jew, but simply common to a liberal Protestant such as I am. They tried to "fix" you. They tried to "fix" me, but I was smarter. I read the instructions on my drugs, and held my doctors accountable. I also held accountable those who tried to "cure" me of various addictions -- heck, when they control my access to what might help me, (assuming my problems didn't stem from social conditions or family problems) from vitamins to opium, I simply worked outside the system. What scars I bear, I bear proudly, if it please God not for me to have children, may I be Hildegarde von Bingen, and be mother to the orphans in Heaven. I am free. I wish to free myself of you. Good-bye.

Two months past, some things changed, some the same.

The other day, I saw her. I was walking behind in a crush of students, when I recognized the backpack, the hair, the watch. Three and a half years and not much had changed - it's difficult not to pick her out in a crowd on accident. I sped my pace to catch up. I wanted to talk to her. Mere steps behind her, everything falls apart in my head. I e-mailed her a couple days ago requesting we talk, as I need to be able to be comfortable around her - we share too many mutual friends to avoid each other forever. Anyways. I saw her and moved to catch up. It was morning and I hadn't even attended my first class.

Moving closer, I tried to figure out why I was doing this. "I just need to talk to her," I thought. "No. No, this isn't right. You want more. The touch, the feel, the comfort, everything that relationship ever brought you that made you human. DO NOT TALK TO HER. Don't do it. Don't be that asshole. Let her talk to you, let things go on her terms. Do not speak a word to her."

I paced onward. I'm the only person on campus with the blue/silver/blue messenger bag. She could not have missed it. I was quivering. My body was broken. I had to make it a hundred feet. Off the path and up the stairs to nowhere. Once in the middle of the W-shaped sculpture, my knees gave out, muscles flickered on and off, tears rushed forth, my breath left me. I shook. Watched as she walked off and disappeared seconds later. I sat there, a pile of human for ten minutes, until I could convince my legs to move again.

Later that day, I was in a relatively empty corner of the library with a study group. Had to pee, so I walked to the bathroom. At a computer, not ten feet away, she is there. I return to the group, suitable shaken. No words were exchanged there. I was hungry and freaking out, never a good combination for me.

Again, the same corner, looking for study materials two hours later. She's there. LEAVE. JUST LEAVE.

I've been in Bellingham for five years come this September. The vast majority of it was spent with her. Almost every place is the context of some memory with her. I want to leave. Summer offers respite: She will be gone for six weeks (I knew before we broke up about that) and I may be able to skip town for six weeks after she gets back. Maybe we won't talk until September.

I am a physician. I was fired by my hospital district on May 12 after 9.5 years.

June 5, 2009

Dear Dr. M.

I am writing to you as (my Ex-Employer Hospital) Clinic Director regarding my concerns about a letter that was sent by (my Ex-Clinic) containing my name. If you are the wrong person to address the concerns to, please notify me and forward the letter immediately. My concerns are as follows.

I was shown a letter about me by one of my patients yesterday, sent from (Ex-Clinic) and (Ex-Hospital).

I was not informed that any letter was being sent to my patients nor was I shown a copy prior to it being mailed. Since the letter says that visits are not being scheduled with Dr. Lizardinlaw, I find it appalling that it was sent without notifying me. The hospital district did not express any impatience to me about the letter that I am composing to go to my patients and I would point out that Dr. K's letter went out more than seven months after he left. My letter is nearly complete.

The letter from (Ex-Clinic) and (Ex-Hospital) says that no information about a clinic address is available (forgive me for paraphrasing but I don't have a copy of the letter). Exactly how would the hospital district have information if they never contacted me to ask if I had a new address or a new phone number? And the (Ex-Clinic) has had my new clinic phone number since the day I was fired. The answering service has been taking calls for me. My new clinic phone number is 385-1842.

I have also heard from patients in the community that when they asked who their doctor is now, have been told "you don't have one." I find this appalling. I would instead suggest that a more accurate answer is "we have canceled your doctor's malpractice." I still am their doctor and will be available as soon as my business is set up.

When the hospital district informed me that they were severing their relationship with me, they also informed me that the district would not stand in my way of setting up my own clinic. The letter to my patients does not support that intention.

I am sure that this is all an oversight, but I would request a reply as soon as possible. If the hospital district would rather reply in person than on paper, please let me know by email or by phone. I would also request that a copy of this letter, as well as the letter sent to my patients, go to the hospital commissioners and to the hospital ethics committee. Please let me know when the hospital commissioners have received it.

Thank you very much.

Yours truly,

Lizardinlaw MD

Originally published as E2Evaluation
Moved to Node Heaven

E2 is a fun sort of place
You can write whilst wearing scant lace
They don't like the poets
And don't I just know it
But still I get into their face

I am sitting in a kitchen in a very luxurious home somewhere in the northeastern United States. At present, I am alone. I am contemplating how my life has turned out so far as opposed to how I thought it would - because the corner I'm sitting in is a corner I used to sit in when I was in junior high school. My best friend, who has been my best friend since we were around 5 years of age, is getting married tomorrow. He and I sat in this his parents' vacation home countless times - having parties they didn't know about (at least, we fondly imagined that they didn't), commiserating over some pointless thing or other, sitting at this very table hung over after said parties, drinking bloody marys and eating omelets.

He's getting married tomorrow.

He is the last one of our high school crowd, save me, to marry. Disgustingly, our group of friends apparently have very stable marriages; none have fallen apart.

So here I sit, soon-to-be-sole-survivor.

Ha. Survivor.

He's doing fine, mostly because he organized the whole deal and dealing with the details has kept him busy. His family is also doing fine now that his mother has gotten past the overload point and subsided into zen calm.

I think I'll be fine until I have to put on the suit I bought but have never tried on, sometime tomorrow midday before the actual wedding.

Then I'll be uncomfortable as hell. I'm fat; good clothes are always torture for me. The discomfort, added on to my general feeling of something coming to an end and onrushing isolation, will probably push me over the edge.

Then I'll just have to grit my teeth, bear it, and get through the day. Deal with the fact that getting drunk will probably be a bad idea given my mood; cope with the whole thing sober by reminding myself that this in no way has anything to do with me - I'm scenery, intended to be at a couple places at particular times to be Seen and Photographed, and that's all.

Then I can slink away into the night and be a depressed useless bastard by myself in my car where there's nobody to take splash damage from my mood.

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