Thursday, October 6, 2011

532. Pathological Likeability

I have this pathological curse that I want to be please everyone. Call it Sally Field Syndrome (when she won the Oscar for Best Actress, her acceptance speech started with “You like me! You really, really like me!”). I am always surprised when people like me or recognize me or even want to talk to me. Yet, I obsessively try to be nice to everyone so that they will like me. It is an endless and exhausting loop.

Sometimes I just want to say, “It doesn’t matter if you like me, so there!” but that would be a lie.

For example, I have been volunteering at my older son’s school. The fabulous office staff is always happy to see me because I will hopefully sort some mail or organize files or otherwise accomplish some busy-work that has been sitting around waiting to be done.

What do I do? Bake them muffins. And cookies.

“Yay!” says The Husband. “You made us some cookies!”

“They’re not for you,” I hiss, apparently not worried about whether or not The Husband likes me. “They’re for the school.”

“Oh. Is it for a Bake Sale?”

“Duh, no. The cookies are for the school office ladies.”

“Why?” he probes. “Is it someone’s birthday?”

“How should I know?” I say impatiently. “I’ve only volunteered there a couple of times so far.”

“Uh-oh. Is this part of your I-am-such-a-nice-person campaign?”

“Of course,” I confirm defensively.

Our little psychotherapy session is cut short by the kitchen timer beeping.

“MOV, seriously? The school office people must already like you because you are helping them for free. I don’t think you need to bring cookies in.” The words are accompanied by the surreptitious theft of a cookie, perhaps eight, while I get the next batch out of the oven.

How can they possibly like me from just talking, getting to know me, and me helping them? I must bribe them with delicious foods to cement their approval of me.

This carries over into other aspects of my life as well. I hold the door for people at the dry cleaners (who will soon enough cut in front of me in line, and then I will never see them again) so that they will like me. I take the next-door neighbors’ newspaper to their doorstep when I go out for an early morning run, even though the delivery guy puts it at the end of their driveway which is not really that far to go. I volunteer to coordinate our moms’ group dinner club for several months, even though I have just started my Top-Secret New Job and am actually quite busy.

I want people to like me! I obsessively need people to like me!

When I find out through the grapevine or Facebook (“I Hate MOV—here’s why”) that someone does not like me (say, a previous co-worker from my airline career), I ruminate about it for days. That’s not true: months. How dare Deena not like me? I traded flights with her to accommodate her schedule! I helped her distribute the Duty Free forms on that London flight that one time! I held her place in line at Starbucks at the airport while we were delayed for two hours for that Boston flight! I’m nice! Damn it, I am!

The Husband shakes his head when I try to explain this to him. “MOV, why do you care what other people think? You know who is really important in your life. Your immediate family, your close friends. A few other special people.”

That’s right: my blog readers.



  1. I like what you write, I don't know you, but I like you as a writer...Send some cookies over here!

  2. Hey Mov, I like you too!


  3. We like you, MOV! We really like you! As a matter of fact, I like you so much, I gave you an award on my blog. And you didn't even have to bake me cookies. :)

  4. I LOVE YOU.

    -Taki the Aspiring Falconer (jealous of people who have freshly-trapped birds)

  5. We all love you, or we wouldn't keep reading! I'm so fascinated with the New Top Secret Job, it keeps me awake at night!!

  6. To quote my boyfriend:
    "You're checking that blog again?"

    Heheh. ♥

  7. I'm undecided. Cookies might help. I'm not a fan of walnuts, so keep that in mind.

  8. I like you very much, MOV, even if you are a Virgo and would probably make me crazy organizing my life.
    I make cookies for people too. Say what you like, but real baking makes a difference in the world.

  9. At least 163 people following you like you. My own son doesn't even like me!

    By the way, Award well deserved!

  10. To all who wrote, THANK YOU!!!!! You made my day. (and Sandi, I have more New Top-Secret Job stuff coming up soon!)


  11. Dee from Tennessee

    Well, I like you and your writing for sure!

    (On facebook , I am Devonia Dykes Cochran.)

  12. ...and do you talk to total strangers all the time in public places, adding some humor as well? Thats my life, too. I don't think my parents ever taught me not to talk to strangers, and if they would have, they would have been hypocrites.

  13. hi Dee, thank you! (and I am not on facebook, as I am too, uh, untechnologically savvy for it)

    esbboston, I guess I do. I work at the high-end kitchen store, so I have the excuse that I am talking to my customers. I say things that I myself find funny/ silly, but they probably think are dumb (e.g. today a British couple were buying something and I asked where they were from. "London," the wife replied cheerfully. Then I said, "I love London! I spent a sememster there, and I even learned the language before I left!"). Well, at least I can amuse myself..........



When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)