Sunday, September 30, 2007

Out of sight, no invite

Usually when one overhears a conversation about someone feeling hurt over being left out or wondering if they've been ignored for some unknown personal reason, one would think it's spat between two women.

In this case, however, it's my male friend, TJ. I found out over the weekend that he was asking why he had not been invited to a birthday party I organized for Tim. C3 made me aware of his inquiry. Apparently the reason he found out about it was because a friend asked TJ, "are you going to Tim's party at C3's?" Then, on the day of the party, Hula had called TJ asking if he wanted to carpool to C3's place for Tim's party. (Hello? Check the invite list before mentioning these things to people.)

Naturally, you can understand why this would be rather perplexing and somewhat hurtful to feel left out. Upon hearing this, I felt rather bad myself for hearing that he could not understand the reason for being excluded. TJ is a very gregarious person and likes to include others. I'm sure he expects similar behavior from others.

Before asking Tim, I chatted with C3 about it. My natural assumption is that Tim does not feel particularly close to TJ. There have been a few times where Tim expressed surprised at being included by TJ. Secondly, the party itself was never intended to be big like the parties that TJ likes to have. We kept it to less than a dozen people who Tim chose. Even I was surprised at how few people Tim wanted to include after asking him for additional names. Thirdly, given that TJ has never gone camping with us, spends much of his free time socializing with his girlfriend and her circles, and rarely shows up for casual events due to his work, it's easy to forget about him. He hasn't been there to "bond" with us (at least me anyhow).

Tim has been in my life for over three years. Besides big social gatherings like BBQs and house parties, I don't think TJ and Tim ever talk. On the other hand, friends like Hula, Drummer, Ig, and C3 see Tim monthly as a result of various outings and get-togethers. While I feel bad for forgetting TJ, there's a reason for it. Hearing him comment to C3 that he's the reason Tim and I even know each other is not fair. Just because you take credit for linking friends together doesn't give you an automatic ticket to events. (TJ and Pku are friends. Pku and Tim went to college together. I met Tim when Pku invited me on a group vacation.) I don't think TJ was implying that he should be invited for that reason alone, but he made that observation just the same which I find illogical.

Basically, C3 and I agree that it's tough when there are overlapping circles of friends. Not everyone needs to be included in everything other people do. For example, sometimes it makes sense that a casual evening is for people who live near by each other. I am very aware that I'm not invited to certain events, but I know it's because I'm not from the same college or ethnic group. Even though events may not be specifically organized around a specific theme, I certainly understand that I'm not being intentionally excluded sometimes. Come to think of it, I wasn't invited to TJ's girlfriend's birthday dinner even though Hula and C3 were; that's fine. Why should complain?

I told Tim about what has happened. He laughed a bit and then said, "whoops." It was plain to see that he had simply forgotten about TJ. It was mostly what I had thought, Tim hasn't seen TJ in months and didn't remember him. He was thinking of people he's hung out with over the summer. The thing about it is that, normally, TJ is so busy, he wouldn't have cared. His girlfriend happens to be out of town and he was alone the evening we had the birthday party.

I don't know if TJ will ever bring it up with me or Tim. C3 certainly felt bad because it was at her place. TJ targeted her with a bit of guilt. I take some responsibility since I controlled the invite list. At least Tim knows now to remember him next time. I only hope TJ realizes (or someone points it out to him) that sometimes he's not going to be included when he doesn't invest the time to hang out with people. Just because he sees Hula and C3 more regularly doesn't mean that Tim or I should be held to the same level of familiarity. It's not out of malice, just simply about people with who you have a current connection.


teahouse said...

Yeah, that's always awkward. I've been on the receiving end of awkwardness like that, too. Another flute in my orchestra got upset that I didn't invite him to my birthday party last year. He was being really sensitive and high-maintenance basically.

I'm sure it will all blow over. The honoree of the party is entitled to invite (or not invite) whomever he wants, and unfortunately some people have to be told that, gently.

mini said...

maybe C3 can find a way to discreetly mention to TJ that the party was very small? Perhaps he would understand better then. While you may be in an awkward position to say anything (because C3 confided in your something TJ may never bring up with you in person), C3 may better be able to slip something to TJ to help him not feel as offended.

Pandax said...

C3 did try and emphasize the smallness of the group. I think it helped a little.

TJ is one of the few people who think the reverse of the rest of us. He tends to be all inclusive and mix groups. A few of us have actually complained in the past because he invited a couple of his friends to birthdays where we only wanted friends to attend. I was particularly unhappy because he invited a male friend who I am completely repulsed by because of chauvinistic comments.