The Games People Play (or) How It Is Sometimes

In another lifetime they might have been good, perhaps even great friends. Their natures each pitched to unusual keys, offset just enough to harmonize in inspired ways. But they didn’t. Not this time around. What emerged between them instead, was the relationship equivalent of elevator music. A vast politeness, a blameless bond neither strong nor interesting. It held them temporarily in the same orbit, no more, no less. Like passengers seated next to each other on a plane, who exchange brief pleasantries then fall into their separate worlds. Or acquaintances at a mutual friend’s party, who listen to one another’s stories with that air of formal attentiveness that betrays a lack of natural sympathies. From their forgettable interactions was absent the trouble or reward of real conversation. They traveled a shared highway, a little more than distant and much less than close. You know how it is with some people. And so it was with them. Though it might have been otherwise.


The kind of falling out that sinks beneath the surface after the initial confrontation. Unsettled ghosts woken by the disturbance now refuse to fall back asleep. They cast a gray pall over these relationships. Joy like a migratory bird leaves for warmer climes. Pleasantries continue to be exchanged, small kindnesses done. But there is wanness to them. Like winter sun. A futility. Like seed cast on stone. Everything feels smaller than. Diminished. Emptied like a shelled pea-pod. A once container. Contentless yet true to form. The ghosts stir the hollowed out husks with their sighs. ‘Do you remember?’ they whisper, ‘Do you remember those days when life was unbroken, the illusion whole? Do you remember when this friendship made anything possible?’


A variety of veiled distrust between them that self-righteously tilts away from full-blown disagreement, and nurtures instead, many minor refusals to correspond in perspective. The bigger battlefields have been wisely abandoned. The smaller ones foolishly overrun. Each bends over backwards  to avoid seeing eye-to-eye on minutiae. For to concur on trivialities admits common ground. And the thought of shared turf even in its most innocuous forms, is still repellant. A passive contrariness becomes the weapon of choice. Difference of opinion wielded as, not sword, but toothpick. Capable of wounding nothing, save vanity. Horns will not be locked like battering rams. No. Nothing so honest or conspicuous. Instead balloons will be pricked, and sails quietly de-winded by turns. Subtle deflation the new strategy.

2 responses to “The Games People Play (or) How It Is Sometimes

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