An act of contrition. An act of frivolity. An act of appreciation. These 3 acts comprised my weekend RACs, and also helped me understand something about myself, too.
First off…the act of appreciation. I took some time this weekend to see a friend of mine in a dinner theatre show, an outing I had been planning since the middle of October. Suffice it to say that during the past two months, I have nearly forgotten to schedule blinking and breathing into my agenda, let alone an entire afternoon of theatre. My last possible opportunity to see my friend’s show came this weekend, and I astonishingly had an entire Sunday afternoon open.
My RAC came in the form of flowers for said friend, which I presented to her at the opening of the show. Now, some people out there are under the assumption that merely attending a friend’s play or musical is an act of kindness in itself. The show nearly ran for 3 1/2 hours…time enough to bake two cheesecakes, write your memoirs, or feel your butt go numb.
But simply attending this show for my friend wasn’t enough; she was my friend, a person who has stuck by me through thick and thin…someone who has attended shows I’ve performed in, time and time again. The very least I could do for her was to be in attendance. It’s part of the friendship code: thou shalt attend all manners of theatre/concerts/operas/symphonies/drag shows/poetry readings that your friends engage in. It’s there. Look it up.
Nay, I could not simply just attend her show, although she later intimated to me that she was thrilled I could be there. That’s my duty as a friend. That’s not allowed to count for an RAC: it’s not something done out of the ordinary. It has to be something that you wouldn’t normally do.
So, with nearly 10 minutes to get to the show and an urgent need to use the restroom, I flew into Tops Markets, selected beautifully tasteful bouquet of flowers, and ran back to my car (of course, having paid for said flowers before departing). I had just enough time to get to the theatre, finagle a parking space, and find my table.
Most of the people in attendance for these types of shows are from out of town: bus tours, people from Ohio or surrounding areas. The performers don’t usually see a lot of their friends and family in the audience…let alone friends/family bearing substantial bouquets of flowers. I felt a lot like Waldo while I waited for the show to begin:
I think I hit about 4 people in the back of the head with my bouquet as I made my way to my table. I’m sure I’ll be charged with a felony. My floral aggravated assault was worth all the consequences, however, when my friend received her flowers. She had a huge smile on her face, and I was just glad that someone else has to worry about walloping audiences members in the head.
My second RAC for the weekend again fell under the category of “Food/Drink RAC” (see my rant about giving food here). It was honestly a very small gesture, but, again, not something I would have thought about doing normally. After an intense discussion about beers and all-things-Sam-Adams, a friend informed me about a distinctly foul winter beer that the Sam Adams corporation created last Christmas for their winter variety packs. A certain Cranberry Lambic found its way into said winter pack last year, and my friend Sue was none too impressed by it. Being the Sam Adams girl that I am, I knew I had to see/taste this for myself: a Sam Adams beer that DOESN’T taste like Jesus? Preposterous!
To make a very long story short, the good people at the Sam Adams company apparently decided to NOT recreate the ale in question…instead, they replaced it with nectar so sweet it makes the angels weep:
Sam Adams Chocolate Bock…lager fit for a king, and a welcomed substitute to the Cranberry Lambic. In an attempt to foster a budding friendship, I brought my friend a bottle of the Chocolate Bock to inform her that a.) her Cranberry Lambic was put out of its misery, and b.) a worthy heir had been appointed to the throne.
When I presented my friend with Bottled Nectar from the Gods, she was delighted to know the Cranberry Lambic had died a slow death, and was genuinely surprised to see I had thought enough to bring her a bottle of its successor. Not only did I receive a solid “thank you,” but we also discovered a new favorite brew. If you haven’t tried it, the Chocolate Bock is really a great winter beer. A mild, warm chocolate presence without any sharp aftertaste.
My last RAC for the weekend brought along a very poignant moment with its completion. I will momentarily be serious to discuss what led up to this experience.
A close friend and I entered into a very serious discussion on Friday, which, suffice it to say, resulted in both of us leaving each other that day a bit down and confused. It wasn’t a fight by any stretch of the word, but the content we discussed was both serious and stressful. There wasn’t even any blame to place for the way we left each other that day; no one was guilty of causing hurt feelings, nor was there any blow ups or slammed doors. It just was a very serious conversation which left us both a little numb.
On my way home, I didn’t feel right. My mind began reeling with worries that I had said too much/I hadn’t said enough…should I have avoided the topics we covered? Should I have attempted to lighten the mood instead of probe the issue further? What could I have done to leave this friend with a smile on both of our faces?
But then, it hit me: never mind who should have done what. Never mind who was wrong/right. Never mind if there needs to be a resolution, or an apology, or another conversation to justify what was said…the point is…this is a friend I deeply care about. I hate to see them upset, frustrated, or hurting. I hate even more that we left each other on shaky terms. The only thing I thought of at that moment was a question: how can I make things right?
In a flash of enlightenment, I found myself swerving into the nearest CVS Pharmacy. My legs propelled themselves back to the greeting card aisle, ignoring pleas of Christmas M&Ms and chocolate covered cherries…there would be time later to indulge in the treats of Christmas…for now, I had a task to do.
I buy greeting cards…but perhaps not as much as I should. Honestly…when is the last time you can say that you, my dear reader, received a greeting card? It is a dying art. Sure, your mailbox is full of them at Christmas, on you birthday, and perhaps you collect a handful on Mother’s/Father’s Day…but do you ever just get a card from a friend on a whim?
I quickly ran home to prepare my card for presentation. You see, I’m the kind of person that will always add something to a greeting card. Leo Tolstoy could write a 567 page card, and I will still add my own closing before signing it. It makes the card personal…shows the recipient you care and still had more to say. I can never just sign a card with only my name.
I saw my friend later in the evening, who seemed to be genuinely surprised I had gone out and gotten him a card…well, as genuinely surprised as someone who’s been the recipient of many greeting cards from me. I believe he’s convinced I can find a card for just about any occasion: getting over a hangnail, successfully parallel parking, blowing your nose, etc. I think he just sort of assumes that, like apps for the iPhone, “there’s a card for that.”
And that’s the tricky thing about greeting cards: you never really know what the person is thinking when they receive them. Did I pick the right card? Did I go to far with what I wrote? Does this person even like greeting cards? Are they trivially thrown away in the first available trash bin?
But that’s the thing about “doing good”: you can’t worry or project the outcome. You have to just fully invest yourself in the act and cease all thinking about the consequences, good or bad. So, I bought a card…for a friend…who I left that day on uncertain terms. My hope was to make things right again, and beyond that, I had no other reason for purchasing the card. I didn’t wish for them to shower me with praise, or perform a reciprocal action. I didn’t wish for them to tell me how much they appreciated my gesture, nor what my words meant to them. I just wanted to resolve whatever ill-feelings or reservations hung over both of our heads. If you fight with someone you care deeply about, you work as hard to right the wrongs, no matter who is to blame. In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter who is wrong and who is right? I propose a substitution:
Who is Wrong & Who is Right FOR What is Wrong & How Can I Fix It
We spend so much of our time placing blame on others for our problems. I admit I have my moments where I will fight to the death to prove my side, but instead of trying to do that, why don’t I just attempt to find a middle ground. Think about it: how much energy could I save if I just took the elevator in a game of Shoots-n-Ladders?
In the play-by-play of resolving a fight, you go up and down, ‘round and ‘round, trying to decide who’s wrong/right, who’s to blame, and what they should say to apologize. What if there was an easier route? I’m not trying to say that all fights are easily concluded, but it certainly would be interesting to see what happens when our goal is resolution instead of vindication.
My friend and I resolved our conflict and moved on from it to have a wonderful evening. It was as if our afternoon discussion had never took place, and it also brought us closer. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’d count that as a win in my book any day.
RAC #8: Brought friend a bouquet of flowers after her show
Result: Our table at the theatre smelled wonderful, hit 4 guests in the head with the bouquet, my friend said she “loved them”
RAC #9: Brought another friend a bottle of beer (Sam Adams Chocolate Bock)
Result: Strengthen a new friendship, got to try a new beer, passed germs along from sharing the beer
RAC #10: Gave a friend a greeting card to clear the air after a “fight”
Result: The air was cleared, brought friend and myself closer together, continued to support my stock in the Hallmark company