I used to have an attention junkie friend. Actually, until a few years ago, when I put my foot down, ALL my girlfriends were attention junkies. But this one was a rare sort – she knew she needed to be the centre of attention, unlike the others, who assumed that being the centre of attention was the natural order of things, ordained by the universe and tantamount to Divine Law.
This friend used to boast of being insecure. Every time we caught up for coffee or dinner, she’d boast about how insecure she was. The rest of the world would have used the word “narcissistic”, but that was too pejorative for her taste.
One day I decided I’d had enough of her boasting and said, “I’m not insecure at all.”
Offended, she snapped at me, and that was the last time I heard her say she was insecure.
Then a while later, she started telling me she was a dominant personality. Oh, for heaven’s sake, I thought. Then I thought, Try to be a nice person, Sydney. She needs to explain herself in terms that she finds acceptable. It’s not doing you any harm. So keep your mouth shut.
We’re no longer friends. I went through my attention junkie pals and turfed them out one by one. Now my life is clean. My friends now are much more civilised.
But I’ve been thinking – maybe this friend had a point, sort of. I always use the iron word when describing myself. It’s bothered me for some time that I leave people and go and play somewhere else. At the moment, I’m playing with people in a closed group for writers. Who knows how long that will last? I have been calling this flighty and no Velcro on my heart. Now I’ll call it being a social butterfly.
If I were Montaigne, I would now launch into an account of the social butterflies in my family on my father’s side – him, his sister Joyce, his niece Rhoda, how his nephew Alan married a social butterfly, Sylvia, nice woman. But I’m not Montaigne, the master of the discursive essay.