We come across different types of people in our social lives. There are some who think before they talk, carefully weighing and measuring their words. They are the ones who usually mean what they say. You know where you stand with them. There are others who first talk and think later about what they’ve said and try to make amends if there has been any slip.
There are yet others who not only talk without thinking but are least bothered to either remember or recall what they have said, thus causing a lot of embarrassment to themselves and a lot more to others who take their words at face value.
I recall an experience years ago when I first came to Madras from Jamshedpur, fresh from college and newly married. When we were dining at a restaurant on Mount Road, a couple greeted my husband and I was introduced to them. Dinner over, I said, looking at the woman who also happened to be a young bride, “Please drop in some time.” Snap came the reply, “You see, as newly-weds we would prefer to go to movies and shopping. That’s why I don’t invite anyone home because it will come in the way of our outings.” Though taken aback, I could not help but admire her frankness.
On another occasion, we were given a standing invitation to dinner by another couple, who were middle-aged. “You can drop in any time, we rarely go out,” said the friendly woman. “To be on the safe side, it’s better if you call before coming over. You can join us for dinner,” added the husband. I was proud that my husband had such a hospitable couple as his friends.
One day, we landed at the couple’s place after a telephone call ascertaining their convenience, but all that we got after spending two hours with them was a glass of lime juice! On our way back, I asked my husband whether his friend had forgotten about the ‘dinner’ part of the invitation. My husband said he had no idea. However, the next day we were surprised when our host telephoned and apologised profusely for his absent-mindedness. It appeared he had forgotten to tell his wife that he had invited us to dinner.
Then there are acquaintances and ‘friends’ whom we meet at social functions and get into a lively conversation which ends with one saying to the other, “Why don’t you drop in some time? We don’t seem to visit each other at all.”
The invitation sounds casual and is not taken seriously by either. Some promise to drop in on such and such a day and hour and you only end up waiting for them. They not only fail to turn up but don’t bother to get back to you and explain why they could not keep their engagement. If you happen to mention it some time later, you are either met with a hlank look or are forced to listen to a lot of lies. There are yet some others who say, “You must drop in some time,” but don’t expect you to take them at their word, because they don’t mean it. If you are naive enough not to realise it, the situation becomes embarrassing to you.
“Please come home some time,” said someone the other day. I met this person again at a social gathering when she said, “I was looking forward to your coming home. Why don’t you make it some time soon?” (Now I know I must make it, because here is someone who means what she says.)
Acquaintances turn into friends if you care to say what you mean and what you say, because it shows your interest and concern for them. In case you are not always able to do so, at least try to make amends by explaining the situation. Then you will be true to yourself as well as to others and there will not be any need for excuses or lies. There will not only be better understanding but you will also rise in people’s esteem, as they will respect you.
N Meera Raghavendra Rao