People Really Hack Me Off (Part 2) The Clueless Christian Who Likes To Send You Upbeat Updates About Himself In Reply To Your Announcement of Your Mother’s Death (ex friend of mine)
(July 2018 update below)
I had this friend who I shall call “Douglas” (not his real name) who I met while in college.
This post will probably not be nearly as long as (Link): Part 1 of this series about the ingrate and hot head, Ellen (the other ex friend of mine).
Doug is about four or five years older than I am.
Doug is a devout Christian guy and a Republican. (Though he didn’t fixate on politics and go nuts about it the way Ellen did, who I mentioned in my last post.)
Like almost everyone I am blogging about in this series, he was self absorbed.
Douglas and I both had the same major and had a few classes together in college.
Doug lived about a 20 minute drive from the college campus. He lived at home and commuted to college every week in his own car.
I lived in a dorm during the school week. My home was about an hour and a half drive from the college. Or two hours.
Doug also had weird habits, which turned me off.
Every time Doug would come by between classes to visit me in my dorm room, he would peer into my trash can and examine it. I have no idea why.
I confronted him about that once, when I was seeing him out of the dorm, in the common room area – nearby was a microwave and large trash can where the girls would throw their food wrappers in.
Douglas denied it.
Doug said he did not have a weird fascination with looking at trash in trash cans, but he said this- yes, get this – while peering into the common area trash can – and he was not trying to be funny.
He was seriously interested in the trash in the can.
I said, “Look at what you are doing right now this minute, you are checking out the trash in the can. What is the strange fascination with the trash?”
Doug was a hypocrite, too.
He would come into my dorm room and give me static for a bread crumb or two on my desk.
Bear in mind that after my annoying roomie moved out (she was a total slob) – well hell, even when she was there, I was the only one who kept the room and the bathroom clean – I was keeping the room clean all alone. My mother did not clean my dorm room for me.
Doug lived at home and admitted to me that his mother made his bed for him every day. She dusted his room and so forth. She did his laundry.
I was like, “Dude, are you serious for picking on me for having bread crumbs on my table? Your mom cleans your room for you. I am keeping my own room clean, thank you. Who are you to criticize my dorm room?”
Anyway. I ended up having a big fight with Doug and told him I didn’t want to be his friend anymore.
He was self absorbed (most people I’ve known over my life are. I attract self absorbed people like moths to a flame.)
This was all back in the early or mid 1990s, when there was no internet.
— DOUG LOOKS ME UP ONLINE —-
Sometime around… I don’t know… 2003, 2005, I got an e-mail from Doug.
One of my e-mail addresses (like a Hot Mail one, or some other web based e mail account) was published on some guy’s web site, which is how Doug found me.
Doug apologized to me in his e-mail for having been a self absorbed friend. He wanted to know if I’d give him a second shot. So I said sure.
Doug had gotten married in the mean time.
Our first few e-mail exchanges were okay.
But, he soon got into this annoying habit.
—– DOUG’S SELF ABSORBED E-MAILS —-
Doug would write me these big, long e-mails going on and on about his life and what he was up to.
Then he might end the e-mail by asking me a question about me, like,
- “So, did you go to any pizza parlors this week? Which one, and how did you like their food?”
I would write Doug back and put a lot of thought into my replies. It would take me 30 to 40 minutes to compose a reply to him.
I would address about 90% or more of the points he raised in every e-mail.
Like, if he told me that his old green umbrella was falling apart (just to make up a stupid example), I’d write back and say,
- “That is too bad. I hope you didn’t get soaking wet if you used it in public. Wal Mart is having a sale on umbrellas this week if you need a new one.”
Then, I would answer his pizza question.
I’d say to him in my e mail,
- “Why yes, I did go to two pizza places last month. I went to Domino’s, then I stopped by Pizza Hut last week. I thought that the pizza at Pizza Hut was not as good, because blah blah blah….”
It might take me five, ten, 15 minutes to answer his question, whatever it was.
Then, in the next e-mail I’d get from him, he would act as though the previous e-mail exchange never took place.
It was so weird.
It also made me feel like responding to his e-mails was a huge waste of time for me.
Doug would not address my critique of or remarks about pizza parlors at all.
Why the freak did Doug ask me my opinions about pizza restaurants in the first place in one e-mail, if he had no intention of responding to my comments about them in his reply e-mail?
But in the next e-mail – where he ignored my pizza responses to his pizza question – after he spent the top 3/4th of the e-mail babbling about himself and taking no interest in me – he would end, again, with some other question.
I’ll make up another example.
Like say he ended this second e mail by asking me,
- “So, do you prefer Dolly Parton’s earlier work to her current stuff? If not, why not? Do you think Dolly should sing pop rather than country music?”
And I would spend 10 minutes responding in great detail why I enjoy Dolly’s entire catalog, and why I think she should stick to country music.
Then a couple months would go by, where Doug would finally reply, and you guessed it, in his response to me, he would not say a peep about my Dolly Parton comments.
Why is this joker asking me for my opinions on Dolly Parton’s music if he’s not going to deal with how I reply about it?
Even though I kept talking about Doug’s life – if he told me in one e-mail that he got a new pet goat, for instance – I would write back about his pet goat.
I was all like,
- “Hey, so, what color is the goat? That sounds great that you have a pet goat. Do you take your Goat on walks. What is your goat’s name? What do you feed the goat?”
– Doug would never take an interest in me or my life.
Oh sure, Doug might ask me random questions, like what is my opinion on Dolly Parton’s music, or did I go to Pizza Hut last month, but he never asked me about my job, was I dating anyone, or, if I did bother to share stuff with him, like,
- “Hey, Doug, I finally dyed my hair purple. Remember in college, I used to tell you, my dream was to have purple hair one day? My dream came true. I went to the hair salon and they dyed my hair”
But Doug would never, ever comment on stuff I wrote to him about me, like,
- “Hey, congrats on the purple hair, I’d love to see a photo of you with dyed hair.”
I would get no comments or questions from him about the stuff I wrote to him about myself.
After this went on a few more times over a year or year and a half period, I got the feeling that Doug was not terribly interested in having a two way friendship.
Doug was just nostalgic to meet an old friend from college and wanted to be a narcissist.
He wanted someone (me, in this case) to read about him talk about himself and his life in his e-mails.
Doug didn’t want a two-way exchange of conversation, he just wanted someone to listen to him go on about him.
Doug did not really care about what I was doing, or what I was up to. Nope. I was just an audience to read about him and his life.
In this regard, Doug is like my ex fiancee, “Fred” (not his real name).
Read about my ex Fred (Link): here if you want to. (I know, I need to get around to writing a Part 2 to that one of these days. I just never seem to get around to it.)
Up to this point, I spent about 30 or 40 minutes on my replies to Doug. I sent him e-mails that were three paragraphs or longer. They were nice, chatty, long -but not overly long- replies.
So, after awhile, when Doug would send me a new e-mail, rather than spending 30 minutes writing a good, quality reply and touching on every topic he raised, I would, usually at random, pick one question or topic from his e-mail, reply to that in one sentence or two and send that to him.
Doug’s replies to me dwindled a bit after that. I can’t recall if he sent me any more long e mails at this point or not. So, I got to the point where I just started cc’ing Doug on my weekly or monthly e-mails.
What I used to do, was every month, I would cc everyone in my eMail address book a pretty photo of a sunset, or a funny joke, or whatever, just to stay in touch with folks.
I included Doug on that cc list. It was the bare minimum of “staying in touch” for me.
I learned that writing Doug long, thought out responses was a waste of my time.
I can’t recall if we just stopped e-mailing each other for a couple of years by this time.
I think he stopped replying to me after I began just sending him a monthly cc’ed email of a photo of puppies on it.
I guess it bummed him out I was no longer investing time writing him nice missives inquiring in detail about his life.
— MY MOTHER’S PASSING—
Then my mother died – let’s say she died in 2007 (which is not when she passed, but I’m trying to change details of my life since I am anonymous on this blog).
I think about one two two weeks after my Mother died, and we had the funeral, and I got back home, I sent everyone on my e-mail list a notice, very brief, informing them that my mother had died.
About a week after I sent that e-mail out, most people sent me brief replies saying, “I am so sorry,” and that was all.
But Doug? Oh Doug.
Let’s talk about Doug’s reply, that asshole.
— DOUG’S INSENSITIVE REPLY, ROUND 1 —
Yes, unfortunately, there was a Round 2 and 3 with this ASS-HAT.
Here is round 1.
So, Doug’s condolence note to me, his “reply to” reply to my e-mail notice of my mother’s passing, was to play “catch up” with me.
It had probably been two years or so since we had written each other about our lives. He had not been replying to my CC e-mails containing photos of water falls or puppies playing in fields of flowers.
I have Doug’s e-mail saved. It’s saved in one of my old eMail accounts. But I don’t feel like opening it and copying it.
I am going on memory, but this will be pretty close to what he told me. I remember. I remember how CLUELESS it was.
Doug wrote me something like this – in an inappropriate, sunny, upbeat manner, Ass Face wrote to me, (recall this was a “reply to” the death notice of my mother – and all names have been changed; his daughter’s real name is NOT “Heather,” I made that up),
- “I am sorry your mother is gone.
- But hey, guess what??? I won a free year’s supply of Rice O Roni in a local super market contest! Woo! I always loved that stuff.
- My wife and I had a baby daughter two years ago. Her name is Heather!
- My wife and I have Heather watch Star Trek movies on DVD and teach her all about Captain Kirk.
- Heather is so adorable when she plays with my pet goat. I should send you photos of Heather on the goat
- My boss promoted me at my job. It’s great. I got the corner office, too. Life is pretty sweet!
- I was able to afford a new Porsche!
- It’s a used car, but it’s great. I like to drive it really fast around the town. It is red.
- The wife and I went on a vacation last year to Paris, France! We might go to to Hawaii this year. My wife Jody wants to learn to Hula dance, but I don’t think she’d be very good at it but you never know, ha ha.
- I took daughter Heather to the local zoo last month. It was fun, she really enjoyed making faces at the gorillas.
- My wife gave me a jet ski for my birthday this year. I had an awesome time taking it out on the lake this past weekend.
- So, my life is going great right now!!
— end Doug’s e-mail to me —
I am for real.
This doofus actually sent me this e-mail in response to mine informing him of my mother’s death and funeral information, by telling me all about how awesome groovy his life was.
My mother’s death got one brief, passing sentence and acknowledgement in his e-mail.
The rest of his response was all about HIM and his GREAT LIFE.
And his e-mail was so danged CHIPPER and UPBEAT.
I was furious, but I said nothing at the time.
Because back then, I was still a Nice Person.
My mother was really nice. Mom raised me to be nice. Mom raised me that if someone was a jackass, like Doug, I was supposed to repress the anger.
I was supposed to keep silent. So I said nothing.
I did not write Doug back at that point. I didn’t hear from him again, either.
The stupid, selfish asshole never did e-mail me over the next three years to say,
- “Hey, you must be missing your mother something bad. Can I help you? Can I do anything to help you?”
Nope, not a peep from him over the next 3 or so years asking about me and how I was doing. Asshole.
About three years later, I was looking up information on the internet about grief.
I was trying to see if there were any good books that could help me cope with the death.
In the midst of doing that search, I found pages with titles such as, “How to Help A Friend Who Is in Grief,” with a section on it saying, “Things to NOT say to a friend who is in grief.”
On one of those pages, one of the things it said was something like,
“When your friend sends you notification that her family member has just died, please resist the urge when writing back, when writing a condolence note, to play ‘catch up.’
Now is NOT the time to get your friend all caught up on your life and tell her about your new job, your new house, your new pet cat, and so on. That can come weeks or months later.
Right now, this is all about YOUR FRIEND, NOT ABOUT YOU.
When you reply, make the condolence note about THEM AND THEIR LOSS.
Do not try to make your condolence note chipper and perky.
This is not the time to make jokes or try to lighten the mood. Cracking jokes will just come off as insensitive.
Just tell them you are sorry for their loss and sign your name.
When I saw that page, I thought, “A-ha, Doug needs to see this. This is so the opposite of what he did to me. He needs to be educated so he doesn’t do this to someone else, and he needs to realize he handled my situation poorly.”
So, I sent Doug an e-mail with a link to that page.
He writes me back and is all like, “Why are you sending me a link to this page?”
It should have been damn obvious, but I wrote back and said,
- “Please see the portion of the page entitled “Stuff to NOT say to your friend who is in grief.”
Doug writes back and was still playing dumb. “Why are you sending me this,” he asked again.
- “Really Doug? Isn’t it obvious? You did the exact opposite of what that page advises. That page is correct.”
— DOUG’S INSENSITIVE REPLY, ROUND 2 —
So, Doug writes me back and proceeded to lecture me.
I got lectured and scolded by a guy who has never lost his mother or father (both are still living), nor has he lost anyone close to him.
He told me that there was nothing wrong with his reply.
Doug said, too, that joking around and being light is not inappropriate, because when he and his family went to the funeral of his Great Aunt Lilly Mae who died at the age of 94, who he had only met once, back in 1976, he and his family were able to crack jokes and make merry at Lilly Mae’s funeral.
Joking can bring levity to a funeral and death, so I need to take a chill pill and realize the healing benefits of laughter.
I was like, oh no you didn’t.
Oh. no. you. didn’t.
My mom had raised me to repress my anger, swallow it, but I thought, this is it. No more.
This is one line you do not cross with me, anything about my mom’s death.
I ripped into him, and I didn’t give a flying fuck how angry I was or sounded, or if I hurt him or offended him.
I don’t recall the exact words of my reply to him, but it went something like this:
You have to be one of the most self absorbed people I’ve ever known.
You made a condolence note about my mother’s death an amusing, cheery, sunny update about YOUR life.
How dare you presume to lecture me about how you think I “should” be reacting to my mother’s death.
I will act any damn way I please about her death. You don’t get to lecture me how I feel about it or how I react to it.
That YOU think it fine to crack jokes and make merry at the funeral of some dead relative you did not even know very well does not make it fine for me and MY mother’s death, or for you to assume it’s fine for you to do that about my mother or me.
Furthermore, after my mother’s death, I went from being in shock, to being numb, to hurting. I was in no mood then, or now, for you to send me jolly, self absorbed commentary about YOUR LIFE.
My mother’s death was about my mother, her death was about ME. It was not about YOU.
My mother is dead and in a box, what makes you think I give a damn if your wife got your kid a new pony last month, you are enjoying the Fruit of the Month gift your brother-in-law gave you last year, and that your boss gave you a raise?
How would you feel, Douglas, if you sent me an e-mail telling me that your kid just dropped dead because she was hit by a car, and my reply to you about that went like this:
—- start fictional note to Doug —-
“Hey, I’m sorry for your loss.
But I have some great news! I just got the latest X-box video game system!!!
My pet parrot just learned to sing “America The Beautiful,” I am so proud of Polly. I will have to send you a video of the bird singing that song, it is the darndest thing, ha ha.
I need to go shopping at Kroger’s next week, I’m almost of out bread.
You should see the wacky new trick my pet cat does, it’s so funny.
—- end fictional note to Doug —-
—you would probably be upset, offended, and angry at me if I sent YOU that kind of remark in light of your kid’s death.
But that is exactly what you did to me about three years ago when I sent you a letter telling you about my mom’s passing.
I don’t want to hear from you ever again.
And I never did hear from him ever again.
(July 2018: I heard from him again in summer 2018. See bottom of post for update.)
I was infuriated and remain puzzled that anyone could be THAT clueless and insensitive to another person’s loss and grief.
Again, Doug is a few years older than I am. So he was in his early 40s (maybe mid 40s) when my mother died.
He was old enough to know better.
Doug is again, a Christian. How can someone who professes a belief in Christ be so incredibly self-focused and clueless in how to treat someone who is undergoing pain or grief?
Since my mother passed away, it’s been one unfeeling, clueless, or insensitive jerk after another.
There has been a parade, a non-stop parade, of these clowns in my life.
There are even more of them. I may blog about them too, I’m still thinking about it.
That so many self professing Christians have been treating me this way is one of the things that has been slowly chipping away at my faith in God and Jesus.
I am having a very hard time believing there is a God or that God cares, when so many who claim his name don’t even try to follow what he teaches and act like insensitive Ass Clowns.
It really does not take all that much effort to act like a decent, caring human being.
How hard is it to send a condolence note to a friend that just says, “I am very sorry for your loss. Will keep you in my prayers at this time. I will help you in any way I can.”
July 2018 Update: