I love this fucker, no ifs ands or buts.
Now, there’s an inauspicious opening line…not sure I can do it justice.
One must push on, though…the curse of stream of consciousness writing.
Eeyore is this amazing character. Ever the pessimist, rightly so it might seem. Shit just never goes his way – his tail is tacked on, if he hasn’t somehow fully lost it and had it replaced with a poorly thought out substitute like an umbrella – or does it go his way and he just doesn’t acknowledge it?
Practically, I think it does. Maybe he’s just aware that it’s the nature of things to change and that his good fortune could be fleeting. Yeah, I think that wariness kind of captures my thoughts on this beloved character from one of my favorite stories growing up – and that’s from the guy who still has friends that call him Christopher Robin.
I often shorthand people by using Eeyore as an adjective, forgetting of course that this could easily be taken as a pejorative statement by folks who just don’t get Eeyore like I do.
Hi, my name is Chris, and I am an Eeyore.
My recollection is that I first used the term to describe Sacha’s dad, a guy I completely adored. I felt closer to him at the time than I did my own father, not simply because he was in a closer orbit than my own father who was still living in the LBC but also because my dad was still tying up his own personal loose ends on the perimeter of the family’s universe as he prepared for his re-entry. Even after my dad had re-integrated into the clan, I was fortunate enough to realize that there was more than enough room in my heart for both father and father figure.
So, Sacha’s dad…how was he an Eeyore? Strangely, it started out as a recognition of the character’s hang dog mannerisms partnered with his deep voice and slow conversational cadence. But it evolved into a deeper appreciation of the man-cum-donkey as I started making the connection between his attitudes and Eeyore’s.
He wasn’t the type of person to be the center of attention, but was an appreciated presence on the perimeter. That’s not entirely accurate, you might not notice that he’s there but you would definitely know something was wrong if he wasn’t there. If you asked him how he was doing, it wouldn’t be out of character for him to say something like, “Can’t complain, no one would listen if I did anyway”.
He didn’t expect outrageous reward from life. He did what he did because he was just a good guy. I doubt he would say that he had a credo; I don’t think he always did the “right” thing but by that same token, I would say that he never did anything that he thought was “wrong” either. I wish that I still had the photo radar picture of him running a red light with his hand in front of his face, perfectly blocking the camera. Now that I type it out, I can’t remember if the picture was of him blocking the camera with his face or if that became a running joke afterward…
Oh my god, I would be remiss if I did not mention that he was so much fucking fun.
How did this turn into a post about my ex’s dad?
But before I get on with it, one more story…it’s sad but demonstrative.
Sacha’s parents had this dog, Max. He was the family dog since Sacha was maybe 6. I met Sacha when he was 24 or 25 – shut up, I was 29, so there, I dated someone age-appropriate at least once in my life. Still single. What I’m saying is that this dog was old when I met him. Sacha’s mom was a stay at home mom…with only Max to mom for. She would take him on long walks during the day, frequently with the leash just draped over his back instead of carried in her hand, he was that well behaved. She watched over him whenever he was loose in the yard, not because he might run away but just to make sure no neighbor kids or squirrels were bugging him. He was usually just laying there in the sun.
His hips didn’t work, so she had to help him when he had to poop by holding him by his hips as he squatted.
Sacha’s parents would take weekend trips in their RV. Max loved the adventure of a getaway. We would go with them a couple times a year. One Sunday, they came back home early. I think we were supposed to meet them at their place for a BBQ, but they called to tell us that Max was gone.
Not dead, gone.
We drove over to their place and found his mom in the kitchen, absentmindedly microwaving the hell out of something. Sacha gave her a hug and asked what happened. They had gone for a long walk on the beach and had all three laid down to take a nap when they got back to the RV. Max laid down happily between them and just went to sleep. And that was it. Not a bad way to go…Sacha asked where dad was. I saw him in the backyard through the window and went out to check on him as they continued talking.
“Rough day, huh?” I asked, as I slowly approached him.
He was sitting – dejectedly, of course, ever the Eeyore archetype – on the picnic table, smoking his frowned upon cigarette and just said, “Yeah”, drawing it out until he had expelled the smoke from his lungs.
I sat down on the table by him and told him that I was sorry about Max. His shoulders slumped in a bit and his head sunk as he silently started to sob. He caught himself after a moment and pulled his head up, took a deep breath and said, “God! He was just a fucking dog!” and started crying again while we both laughed as the effort to shrug his feelings away failed.
Eeyores typically have this quiet depth that I really appreciate. They may not even know it is there, this depth.
That’s not a problem, in and of itself…not knowing one’s depth. But what has confronted me lately is not only the not knowing but also a lack of awareness about what one’s Eeyore-ness can do to those around you.
This is where I get punched, depending on who reads my blog and how accountable my friends truly are to their self-awareness…but here goes.
I had breakfast today with the Filipina Fox.
She’s married to an Eeyore.
Great guy, but I don’t think he allows himself to know it. We have become friends over the last decade or so because of my friendship with his wife. All things being equal, if it weren’t for her my path and his would likely never have crossed. We have exactly two things in common: the Filipina Fox and beer.
In Portland, that last one is pretty much enough to form a durable bond.
Well, and we’re both tall. He’s even taller than I.
Aaaand…their marriage is having a tough go lately. We’re talking estrangement level tough.
He’s a total sports nut. Especially soccer, for now, I think he’s pretty well adopted the “Rose City til I die” mentality of the Portland Timber’s Army, but European soccer is his true passion.
See, I’m not a total sports nut. Or even a partial sports nut. Let’s face it, I just don’t need a reason to drink beer.
So, he’s a sports nut. He also works in sports. In a job where he feels disrespected. Liked, but disrespected and not appreciated. I’ve been there…it’s tough. Definitely not fun.
His attitude about it is pretty much, “Nothing is good and nothing is ever going to be good again”. I’ve lived that mantra. It’s a tough work hole to climb out of.
Today was the first time I have seen the Filipina Fox since she walked out on her hubster. Man, listening to her talk about it was like talking to Sacha’s dad talk about Max. I think there may be a city ordinance in Portland banning tears at brunch without booze present. We broke that ordinance today. She talked through where she was, enormous tears occasionally escaping her eyes.
She doesn’t feel like she’s his number one. Not just that, but that she’s maybe not even a priority at all. How much his tough situation is weighing on her own happiness because he only talks about work.
That’s such a man thing.
I think most women would acknowledge that a typical dude’s top priorities would be some variation of work, sex and sports; regardless of relationship status. So, it wasn’t surprising to me that her perception was that he only ever talked about how dissatisfied his work life was.
I was a little surprised that she went on to say that he complained that they never did anything. This couple…I envy their weekend adventures. Hikes. Beer, sometimes at Timber games, but still…beer. Trips to the beach, where there is hikes, but also beer! Escapes to the mountain to ski or snowboard or whatever one does in the mountains when not hiking. But escapes to the mountain with – you guessed it – beer!
I’d kill – don’t pin me down on literally or figuratively, here – for a relationship with shared interests like theirs.
But on top of a cruddy work situation, his back has been crapping out lately so it’s been hard, if not impossible, for him to enjoy his typical active lifestyle. Another frustration I have struggled to live through. Man, I have a lot more in common with this guy than I give us credit for! The Filipina Fox, beer, crappy job experiences, being betrayed by our own bodies. Anyway, it’s hard when you stop getting consistent physical stimulation. There’s a therapeutic value to exercise. I described that loss of endorphins as a physical depression…and it evolves into just depression.
I mean, for me it did. I don’t want to project.
So there’s also that strain in their relationship.
Just as an observer with maybe five-fourths perspective on the situation, it seems like he isn’t aware of the overwhelming size of the emotional wake he is leaving behind him. I listened to my female Fox and could totally empathize with her. I’ve left relationships for the same reason: the other person was depleting my happiness. Relationships are supposed to enhance one’s happiness. Sure, they take work – these relationships – but you do the work and repair the relationship and you’ve got your enhanced happiness back on track.
When you are stuck in a Eeyore spiral like this, it’s hard to pull out (shut up, Diezel) and recognize the effect you’re having on the people around you. This has been a sustained spiral. I can see where it would come to a head.
The sad thing is – and not to insert myself into their relationship – but I don’t think any of the three of us want this to end in divorce, but there’s no easy solution for this situation. We’re Americans, hard work and accountability aren’t our strongest attributes these days so I don’t know what will happen. I don’t think this is a situation – like so many situations – where either person is right and the other is – by default – wrong. Absolute right and wrong is rare, but I think things are all too often reduced to that base level. I don’t think that a marriage should be oversimplified, for sure.
But what do I know about marriage?
And when did this become a blog about my friend’s marriage?
This is all just an example of how that Eeyore attribute of expecting things to get worse can become self-fulfilling.
In contrast, one of my other Eeyores has a similar hate/tolerate relationship with his job. We get together and have a beer and he’ll talk about his job in that same, “Nothing is good and nothing is ever going to be good again” way and it’s anecdotal. He works at Lowe’s and calls it Blowe’s.
But that’s the difference between recognizing you’re in a crap situation and dealing with it and just dealing with it without even realizing how far down the shit hole you’ve gotten yourself. That wryness and humor that he injects into his story are exactly what makes work tolerable for him, even if he doesn’t realize that’s what’s going on. The byproduct is that the people he relies on for support give it effortlessly because there’s a balance to the relationship: he gets some occupational therapy and his friends get a good empathetic chuckle at the story he spins about life at Blowe’s.
I’ve had a lot of Eeyores in my life. I love them all. There’s a fondness that I can’t deny when they come to mind, try as I might to convince myself otherwise.
Sometimes I tell them that they are my Eeyore du Jour, sometimes I just keep it to myself and enjoy an Eeyore privately. No matter the come what may; good, bad, happy, tragic, some have more drama than others, some have no drama – which is really strange to me – nonetheless…my Eeyores all tend to make their way through their lives and come out of any adversity or unhappiness to return to their surprisingly humble low-key awesomeness.
It’s the Eeyore way.