Last week, King Louie of Dogswald got sprayed by a skunk. This is the fourth time in 10 years. He doesn’t mean any harm to the critters. He barks at squirrels, he chases rabbits, and he approaches skunks cautiously with a gesture of friendship. But the Skunk doesn’t know that Louie is gentle and just wants to be friends.
So he got sprayed. In the mouth and chest.
And then he was madmadmad that his gesture of friendship was rebuked.
And then, his hoomans, who say they love him, dragged him up to the bathtub. And in a very undignified way, lather him up with dishsoap and peroxide and baking powder. Oh, the humanity!
Woe is the King.
Sometimes, your intentions are not as well received as you’d like. Louie wasn’t trying to be aggressive, but skunks are little critters. Skunks don’t want to spray, in fact, it leaves them quite vulnerable until they replenish their spray. Louie just wants to be a good and benevolent king to all the critters of Dogswald (and the yard of the Casa di Swears).
I mean, everyone can relate to wanting to be part of something to which they are not as welcomed as they wanted to be. We lived for 11 years in the Great White East of Ontario. I never settled into a social group. The hockey moms would speak to me if I sat with them, but if I was sitting first, they never came to sit with me. I was on the periphery, and I knew it. It just didn’t occur to them – they’d been friends forever, and I was an outsider. It wasn’t like Mean Girls. It was just that they associated me with hockey and that was all. That was the biggest reason why I wanted to move – I had acquaintances, I wanted friends.
When Child switched from regular generic core curriculum in grade 8 into the enriched curriculum in high school, he acutely felt his isolation. His school-based social circle was small since he only had a few years of elementary school in the local system after we moved from the Great White East. He had some hockey friends, until he quit hockey. He had some cadet friends – some of which he still has. But almost all of his friends were not in the enriched curriculum. He said that he wanted to be part of a specific circle of friends, but he didn’t know how to get himself included. We suggested he just casually mention something that he was doing and see if anyone wanted to join. Unfortunately, no takers. He was crestfallen. But the seed was planted because a few weeks later, they invited him to something they were doing. He became a part of an established circle of friends, and his best pal is still one of the excellent young men from that group.
It could have gone a different way, though. They could have kept him as a “school hours only” classmate. But they didn’t. They could have taken his initial invite as just idle lunch-time conversation. Perhaps one of them saw that his intention was to be promoted from classmate to friend. Perhaps, it was more organic than that. Either way, it doesn’t matter.
There are times when you don’t get what you want, despite your good intentions and careful preparation and your cautious approach. This happens with jobs and potential mates and a million other things. There’s a scene in X-Men First Class when young Charles and Eric approach Wolverine in a bar:
Some people just don’t care what you’re sellin’. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Everyone know the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog? Everyone had good intentions, right up until it went sideways.
Sometimes you have to just admit that no matter how many ways and how many times you approach the situation, the only way this ends is by getting skunked.