Who’s down with O.P.P.?

red hots(And by O.P.P., I of course meant Other People’s Poop. All misogyny aside*, Naughty By Nature wrote a nice hook.)

Public libraries are some of my favorite places. There is no place else that  has adventures,  mysteries, romance, research assistance, free movies, and – get this – use of toilet facilities where you don’t feel the pressure of having to buy something.

But apparently that cat’s out of the bag. Today, in one of my favorite libraries in the world, I encountered the age-old struggle: “Should I stay, or should I go?” Or, more accurately. “Should I go, or should I GO?” In short, my bladder won out. But, for 2 precious minutes, I endured what was certain to be the remnants of a bag of red hots having been shat…and then set on fire. But that wasn’t even the worst poop of the day.

The worst would have been my own…metaphysical poop, that is. All my mental/emotional struggles, insecure whining, and illogical assertions – dumped on a friend’s patient ears, kind heart, and truthfulness..

As all good poops do, this dumping gave me some relief, clarity, and a strange sense of accomplishment, despite being a difficult process to endure. And though my appreciation of this friend knows no bounds, the experience made me wonder about how we put ourselves in the position to be exposed to, and how we handle, O.P.P.

That we surround ourselves with like-minded people is a life choice I know many make. But I also wonder if we don’t actually just surround ourselves with “like-problemed” people. Do we hang with folks whose problems are as plentiful as ours (or bigger), such that we don’t feel bad about our own lives (and whatever degree of helplessness or loserdom we assign ourselves)? I asked myself these questions today, because I realized that this particular friend lives across the country, so we only meet up about once a year. Despite having gone to HS together, we didn’t even really get to know each other, until a random Facebook comment sparked a kinship made possible and made deep only by email and social media. Despite our many differences, the gloss of him still being almost a stranger  makes it that much easier to be honest with him – and myself.

In opening up to this friend, I admitted that these were things I don’t…can’t (?) talk about with people (whom I consider my friends) who I have physical access to on a regular basis. Is it easier to be more open about oneself with people we don’t regularly see, and who are that different from us? Is surrounding ourselves with like-problemed people who let us just whine and commiserate just an excuse for us to wallow and not really deal with our issues? Maybe there’s no relief in OPP if you all have the same P.

I still have some questions left to answer, but came away with some relief and clarity. But those potential life choices are still some time (and many donuts) away from coming to fruition. Until then, I’m staying away from spicy cinnamon treats…

(*In truth: misogyny never cool.)