One of Jon Stewart’s favorite “gotchyas!” is to show a clip of someone stating a position unequivocally, then show the clip of the same person saying the opposite thing, with equal fervor, in the past. Is the person doing a crappy thing by being a hypocrite, or is Jon doing a crappy thing by pointing it out?
It’s hard to get away with flip-flops when you’re always near a camera. In these days of ubiquitous smart phones, we are always near a camera. It’s easy to get caught doing crappy things. Some idiots deliberately photograph themselves doing crappy things, and post them on the internet, and they get arrested. Sometimes these viral postings have caused teens to commit suicide. This is a very crappy thing.
We have all done crappy things. One of the crappy things I do is that I remember other people’s crappy things. To make matters worse, I am of Irish descent, and the Irish don’t forget. Ever. You can ask my ex-husband.
I come by it honestly. My mother still talks about the time I threw up on her during a plane trip. She had to travel a long distance wearing a vomit-covered dress. In my defense, I was four months old, and this was during the Eisenhower administration. At some point, she has got to let this go.
Which brings me to a statute of limitations.
Is the length of the statute of limitations determined by the severity of the crappy thing? Is it affected by the number of less severe crappy things — cumulative crappiness, if you will? How much time passes before the crappy thing becomes water under the, ahem, bridge? Ted Kennedy went to his grave haunted by Chappaquiddick. Every time he even thought about running for the Presidency after 1969, the C-word came up and he had to back down. Whatever good Senator Kennedy did, it was forever shadowed, and rightly so, by that crappy thing.
I lost the friendship of someone I loved by mentioning his crappy thing. We were arguing and naturally I was right and he was wrong. But he refused to admit it. So I said of course he would feel that way because of his crappy thing — which occurred almost thirty years ago. (Did I mention the Irish never forget?) He hasn’t spoken to me since.
One on hand, it was truly an egregiously crappy thing that he did. Doing it was worse than my remembering it, but somehow my mentioning the crappy thing became worse that his doing the crappy thing. That’s a familiar theme. That’s why I am divorced. I kept mentioning crappy things.
People hope and wish we would forget their crappy things. Sometimes we can’t. If it had not been so crappy, it would have been forgotten. If you don’t to be remembered for doing crappy things, don’t do them.
That cuts two ways, of course.
I don’t want my crappy things thrown in my face, either. It does happen, and it makes me ashamed. I want to defend myself or fight back, but sometimes that is the wrong thing to do. Accepting responsibility for my crappy things is hard, but necessary. I want to be forgiven. I have to be forgiven, before I can forgive myself. (If you think you have not done crappy things, wait until your adult children go into therapy. If you don’t have adult children, get drunk with a frenemy.)
For the sake of my own peace, I have erased a lot of the entries, mostly on the Crappy Things Done To Me side. It’s hard, though. Sometimes the ghostly outline of the chalk comes through, takes form. Even though it hurts me, hurts those I love, those bitter memories clump together, forming a pattern, forming a monolith of resentment which keeps me from healing and growing. The memories form an ugly work of art, which is part of my life, part of who I am.
It is my Statue of Limitations