Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cliff/Tori: Know yourself

My friend Justin - a guy I've written about a few times here - had a theory about women. Well it was about people in general but he always applied it to women. He used to say there were three things you had to do to get to know someone.

One: Ask them about themselves.

Two: Ask other people about them.

Three: Go through their stuff.

I'm not sure how serious about that last one he was, but it's definitely how I've gotten to know about Tori. Obviously the base of the first one was covered by the letter Tori left me, but you've always got to beware of the way people talk about themselves. Only someone with serious self-loathing issues would emphasize how their life had gone horribly wrong and they wound up living with their parents after a failed shot at being a hairdresser. Hiding the embarrassing parts of her life (I don't know why, I was bound to find out) left her letter irritatingly vague.

I've gotten access to Tori's old emails too - both her inbox and outbox. At first I was just fascinated at the level of intimate detail I was getting about this stranger's life, until I realized it was now my life to lead. Then I got a little depressed. Tori shows a really unhealthy judgmental attitude in some of these things, ripping into people she sometimes describes as her best friends, and the way she talked about her ex-boss it's no wonder she got canned, and I wonder how badly this is affecting my job search.

I can't exactly go up to these people and ask them what they think of Tori. Her two best friends, Sara and Raine, went to Europe this summer, leaving her here - her big getaway was to Maine with Rob. I can't help but imagine that maybe Sara and Raine really didn't want her on the trip with them.

The most feedback I've gotten is from Mae. She's kind of an annoying presence in that she's always carping at me, but I like to think she and I would've gotten along okay if I was a teenager in my past life. I would've understood her better than I would have understood Tori. She and Tori are pretty much opposites.

I don't want to say Tori's an airhead and Mae is brainy. Tori looks to have done half-decent in school - not honor roll or anything but not a failure. She went to beauty school instead of college so I can't really discern much more from that other than, you know, she was good with hair and stuff. She writes pretty literately, with some run-on-sentences that make me have to re-read sometimes, and occasionally she mixes up "you're/your" and such. Not a big deal as far as I'm concerned.

Mae is sarcastic, very down-to-Earth, a bit lazy. has good taste in movies and music (better than Tori's in my opinion.) Dresses rebelliously but conservatively - mostly in black, very grungy/punky. A fair bit curvier than Tori, and not quite as tall but we're close. Natural blonde hair with dark streaks.

I kind of want to get to know her, to get along with her, as long as I'm stuck here but she's given me the evil eye every time we get near each other, despite a peaceful co-existence. She tries to ignore me, and I'm trying to at least be polite to her. Maybe indicate that Tori has changed somehow, even if I can't make her understand how.

It seems to be working okay. Tuesday I came into the family room and flopped down in a chair to rest my eyes after another annoying interview - they're getting better - when Mae came in and started flipping through the channels.

"What's the matter Vic? Pimps aren't hiring?"

"Nah," I said by reflex, "They gave the job to your mom."

I looked over at her - she was half confused, half amused. It took me a moment to realize "her mom" was "my mom" too. Then we both laughed a bit. That broke the month-long ice a little. We sat and watched daytime TV without further incident. I still don't think she's my biggest fan, but I'm thinking she doesn't hate me either. I've got an older brother, I know sibling relationships can be complicated.

I'm hoping, in time "Cliff" will appear more obviously behind Tori's appearance. I like to think I was a pretty likable guy, so having hostility in my life is a little annoying.

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