(originally on bleedingtodeath, sometime 2002)
That’s a rule I learned from some marketing seminar I took while I was a bug-eyed college student. I guess for someone who’s been apologizing his entire life it was a big deal: you mean you can be freed from responsibility by just denying it when the shit hits the fan? What a concept.
I can’t really say it’s served me well. I still find myself groveling at the feet of those whom I feel I’ve offended in some way. Take my girlfriend, for example. Guilt has a strong way of making you lose self respect.
I guess that’s why some people don’t bother with guilt or make sure they’re not in a position to feel any.
I’ve now come to the realization (yes, just now, as I write this) that all of our relationships in life, when reduced to its basic parts, are nothing but negotiation and renegotiation. You try to find the upper hand and exploit it for all its worth. When that’s done, you find yet more leverage to make the someone else do your bidding. It’s a selfish way of looking at things, sure, but at least it manipulates people without them really knowing it.
For example, you can be kind to a “friend”. Gratitude is a great way to induce guilt, especially if the person really needs something you have. It doesn’t need to have monetary value. The person might just need to waste your time. As long as it’s something you have that he doesn’t, it’s enough to get you ahead.
My girlfriend once told me that women were better at this than men. Women, she reasoned out, weren’t dense enough to know that they’re being screwed real bad behind their backs. Mothers do it all the time to their daughters, she explained. Girlfriends do it to their boyfriends, they just don’t know it’s being done.
“Take a look at you, for example,” she said while guzzling my beer. “You’re nothng but a bum.”
“So it means that you’re an ungrateful sonofabitch. Your mother pays for everything and you do nothing. You don’t pull your own weight.”
“So it gives her more reason to say that you’re nothing but a mama’s boy, dependent on mama for everything.”
“You’ll never amount to anything. I’m leaving you.”
Ouch. At this point I start groveling, which never works, so I cry and promise to get her the complete set of Ringu videos she’s been dying to watch since forever.
“We’ll see,” she says, and the cycle continues.