After dinner last night, one of my dearest friends was helping me make cupcakes. She offered some new techniques, and after my initial resistance, I acquiesced and let her take the lead. The mood was light, and the kids were off tearing up the basement, waiting for our call that the cupcakes were done and ready to be devoured.
My friend’s technique was not going quite as she had hoped, and I was teasing her, poking at the frosting and joking as I sprinkled little orange and black waxy tidbits on the tops of the orange cupcakes. It’s a mark of my density that I really didn’t understand my friend was getting more and more frustrated that her method wasn’t going well. Finally, she snapped at me that I being awfully critical.
Wha…? Huh? Wow. Immediately embarrassed and self-conscious, I apologized and told her I was joking and trying to be funny- it’s something I’ve seen her do a million times. Obviously my comedic timing is more than a little skewed, if I had hurt my friend.
Here’s where she was different: She proceeded to explain why she felt the way she did. She took the time and care to show me, from her point of view, how tearing me up for things she sees me do with great ease is not the same as my joking with her about things with which she struggles. She said- and these are her words- a person as talented as I am cannot harass people the same way as people who are inept can. I never really thought of it that way, but I can see her point.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Yeah, like I said, my density knows no bounds. My track record with friends is not so hot. Surly I have done this in the past to others I have cared about- certainly I have to my own husband, who is far more sensitive to subtlety than I. It makes me wonder how many times I have trampled rough-shod over people I love. Clearly, there are areas where I am fantastically un-talented.
The ironic thing is, cracking jokes and playing light is really not my strong suit. This friend happens to be a superstar at witty biting sarcasm and making people laugh. I was trying to be like her, as she was trying to teach me something, and in doing so, I hurt her feelings.
It turns out she taught me something much more important than a new way to frost cupcakes. Among other things, she taught me that she loves me enough to call me to the mat. That she loves me enough to be frank and honest with me even if it’s uncomfortable for us both. And she taught me that we can have discussions like that and then pick up the threads of our friendship and carry on with laughter and grace.
I’ll never frost a cupcake again without thinking of her with gratitude.