Saturday, October 09, 2004

Letter to an Acquaintance

I told you I am blessed because I have many good friends.

You told me that as I grow older, I will eventually realize and understand the true meaning of “friend”: that people we call friends disappear with our fortunes. That one is lucky if he has one true friend. That you are very careful with how you use the word “friend,” and that you prefer to use the phrase “good acquaintance.”

I told you that was an ugly thing to say to me. You don’t know my friends. You’ve never met my friends. I’m 29, not 9, and I have experienced more Life than some ever will. I told you not to condescend to me in this manner. How contemptuous you are to assume that I cannot discern for myself who is a friend and who is not.

You persisted: told me stories of your grandfather, who was taken from his beautiful apartment overlooking the Duna by the Socialists, sent to live in a peasant village near the Czech border. How all of the people he thought were his friends deserted him, and none offered to help him, save for the building caretaker.

I have little interest in disabusing you of your beliefs on this topic. You have an interest in believing this way. I know you think I don’t see what you’re trying to do, but I can see plainly that you want to claim me, have me. And my abundance of friends threatens your stake, of course. You therefore have an interest in proving to me that friends are faithless and slippery things.

Go on believing as you do. I’ve no wish to make you reexamine a belief that is clearly so vital to your sense of self. If you were to see that so many of my friends are good, kind, generous, loyal, and thoughtful, I know that this would by implication force you to see the poverty of your situation. If I had an interest in doing that, I would ask you: have you been a good friend to others?

You are so arrogant that you can’t conceive that Truth might lie somewhere outside of your realm of experience. If you haven’t experienced it, then it must not exist.

I know old men like you.

You want a pretty package of a pretty young girl. You want to tell her your stories and have her stare wide-eyed with wonder at the life you’ve lived. You project onto me this need of yours. You want me to be a sort of beautiful repository of your self-mythology. You want my pale girl hand to stroke your old man ego. You tell story after story, lecture me on politics and art. Fine. But this is not conversation. This is not friendship. This is masturbation. For the most part, I am happy to oblige you in this way. I listen because I do feel respect for your vast experience, I am interested and hope to learn, and because I feel pity for your weaknesses. But I tell you now:

You will never possess me.

2 Comments:

At 7:23 PM, Blogger undrentide said...

I always like your spirit!
I've been reading your blog with avid interests ever since I found your entry about the story of "Cookie" (I was searching with Google with the key word "kürtőskalács" - my Hungarian friend told me it's one of his favourite sweets).
I learned with a little shock that you're leaving Budapest at the end of this month. I hope you'll continue your blog because I want to read your writing - even about the different place and different people, under the different title from "Budapest and the Rest".
Sorry for my selfish comments, but please let me thank you, I really enjoy reading your blog - what a spirit, and what a nice sense of humour!

Yuriko

 
At 9:22 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

Caro caro Yuriko!

That really is exceedingly kind. I'm actually at a loss for words. Was sitting here eating some delicious peppercorn cheese, but had to stop because I was stunned by your generosity.

But it's dangerous to inflame the ego of a dilettante: she might become, well,.. steadfast.

 

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