Try As Hard As You Can, I've Tried As Hard As I Could, To Make You See, How Important It Is For Me
I think it has something to do with the fact that while she was alive and we were seeing a bit of each other a lot of the conversation with Jennifer had to do with her bragging about how great her brother was. "Did you know Jimmy's studying to be a dentist?" "Did you know Jimmy bought himself a new truck?" "Did you know Jimmy just found the cure for cancer?" It is enough to drive me crazy and more than enough to drive me to just want to show him up at every opportunity.
A couple years ago, I got my silent revenge by pointing out some inane mistake he had made about the novel Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes, who happens to be one of my favorite authors. Jimmy was in the midst of taking a lit class at UC Irvine where they were reading that book and Jimmy, Jennifer, myself, and a couple of her friends were all discussing the book. Having read the book many times I was looking forward to the conversation as an opportunity to put Jennifer's brother in his rightful place. So when he casually dropped that the main character was "secretly" more content to be in his marriage and that all the lies in the book were just wishful thinking I took it upon myself to launch into a fifteen minute diatribe on just how wrong he was. I mean--I had citations, quotes, page references. I was on my game. In the end, Jennifer was laughing because I had worked myself up so much and Jack was smiling out the corner of his mouth. He was pissed. He tried to laugh it off, but the blowhard in him was absolutely dying inside. I loved every minute of that experience.
I would have said that it was important for me to be right when he was around.
Now, however, I find myself having different thoughts when I see him every now and again. Ever since Jennifer died I kind of feel bad for trying to compete with him. Now I wished that I got along better with him while she was still there to see it. I think it's become important for me to know that she knows that I don't hate him as much as I told her I did. Much like Newman, I think he was more my foil than my arch-nemesis. I think a part of me realizes that he gave me something that other people don't, a reason to sell myself. I am a very humble person at heart. I don't usually try to overwhelm people. I don't go out of my way to make an awesome first impression. I am very much of the school of thought that people can take or leave me at my face value. I do not possess one iota, one jot, of vanity in me. However, with Jimmy, I feel the need to at least be better than him.
The thing is now being better than him means being a better human being than him. I've made several attempts to get to know him better over the last year. And, for the most part, it's been met with some acceptance. After all, we both think much of his sister, and I think it was important to her that the two of us got along. You know how when someone is very important to you, you make allowances for their relatives and friends? I think that's definitely the situation here. I'm attempting to be on my best behavior now that she's gone since I was never much on my best behavior when she was still here. She never said anything, but I highly doubt she would have wanted to see our rivalry continue ad infinitum. I think she knew somewhere along the way we'd put behind our childish ways and be okay with one another for her sake. And I think for her sake I'm on my way to putting my annoyance at Jimmy behind me. Again, she never made any attempt to force this upon us but it does seem like the right thing to do for her.
Maybe I'll call him tommorrow and see if he wants to catch up on old times.