—–There seems to be a constant, infuriating imbalance in the way we attempt to cater to others, only to find them ignoring us, in the wake of it. Situations, in other words, do not flow thematically, and life’s transactions, both petty and profound, never involve an equal exchange; but you always give one thing and get quite another, give away gold and get chintz. But turn around, and the other person sees it exactly the opposite. Life suffices to the end that somebody, if not both parties, will be feeling slighted–shafted, short-changed, or maybe feeling altogether like a bandit. No one is encouraged just by the spectacle, because everyone is too involved in it. And if most everyone is slandered, or stiffed, then all the merrier . . . I say. For the truth is, we are all first-class martyrs, and best at irony; we give away what is valuable, and receive in return what is random and has been castaway. Kindness, I have noticed, is not repaid with kindness; not on my scorecard, in either direction. Thoughtfulness is never matched in the occasion where it is present, but met instead with bluntness and brutality. But, hurrah– this is the way it looks to everyone; no one escapes. We give away what is worthless to whom we give it. And the others, they receive what is valuable to them, but not from us, but some untraceable suitor. It’s like some crazy airport terminal, where everyone takes the wrong luggage. Isn’t it? But they go on, for who can admit they are getting deeper into chaos, emotionally? So it is demanded, life remits all things, in the order that adds up to: confusion. Ah, life. Hurrah, I say. People do not communicate, they do not trade with the same money, so to speak, nor think or judge with the same set of understandings. But people are busily engaged nevertheless, I have observed them. They get along splendidly, really, and are unbelievably courteous, really, and they concoct great dramas, no matter what, because the superior reality is:  mostly they find each other very unnerving, I mean attractive, I mean impossible to fathom. What a society!
—–I should calm down. I am trying to cater to your wishes, and it seems to be working, so I kind of store up the credit, if you get what I mean. But I must be a child, for here I am getting rebuffed when I try to call in the exact same kind of favor. I never get the return even in proportion to the effort I made in the original catering. And this word catering doesn’t describe it, either. Certainly not the pastry I get in return, the deluge of tears, the confiding, in overdose. You are out of context, I want to say, I only meant to talk abstractly! But hell, do you have to know a person, to claim them?
—–“Here, watch this purse while I go have a smoke,” the imperial miss requests. I sit there like her servant, staring at her purse. Sometime later, now in her good graces, I attempt a little inquiry, as I am her proven and trusted . . . companion, we will call it, and what does she do? She pours her heart out, it takes only ten minutes–which, thereupon, you might say, with one sympathetic look, I turn into tears and the scene is consecrated, so to speak. This isn’t working, I am thinking, in my habit of trying to phrase reality right as it happens, as if . . . Oh what the hell, I misjudged it anyway, a mere minute later she is totally embarrassed. But only briefly because someone, a person way more real than I, has just caught her eye. People hire you, and then fire you for what appears, to you, to be the very same reason. Are people ungrateful, or did I over value and misunderstand the nature of my service to begin with? Above all, will life ever provide me with material other than inferior, novelistic moments?
—–Well yes, really I should calm down, because there are other whole categories of human behavior. For instance, here is an opposite imbalance–an imbalance of a type opposite the ones where you always seem to be in the loss column, I mean. Let’s do it dryly. People are deemed valuable in the role of praising you; but you tend to recoil if the very same person, on the heels on that praise, as you bask it in, offers anything resembling criticism. You heard that right. Or even advice. Advice–it ruins the mood. The ascendant mood that infuses the requirements of your vanity.
—–Yes, now we are talking. The very same people whom you assume as comprehensive readers, and claim all things for, in order to build them up in your own esteem, as your own all-knowing audience, requiring only that they have looked at the page, or turned a page, those readers–you are immediately dissatisfied with, if and when they open their mouth and say anything specific. Because, invariably, when they get specific it tends to show something perhaps a little measured. They might even reveal they like you for the wrong reasons, and that is the worst thing of all! And if they purport to be editors, or helpful critics? Presto, if they try that they risk their own reputation as comprehending readers! They jeopardize their membership in your fan club, so to speak. They will always have to preface any admonitions with “now, you know how much I love and respect you,” –just so you will even begin to listen to them. But if they continue, ”so in this case, I think you are making a mistake,” this you certainly don’t want to hear, as you are basking in the words “love” and “respect”, and cranking them, those words, up into powerful general compliments that can withstand any complaint, say, by others. Drink it in. Flattery is so powerful it deafens you. And once a flatterer is secured, he or she best not become a traitor. Oh, I know this so well!
—–Then again, switching focus again, being a fan isn’t easy, either! Catering to someone (there is that word again) only makes you an ingrate, a climber, a dissembler, it doesn’t give you status or authority, or the ticket that admits you into their presence of established authority. Much less require them to listen to you, and your fawning–should you get the floor anytime soon. Which is not likely.