Have you ever forgotten about a lunch date with a friend? Or told everyone the concert started at 1800, but it was actually at 1700? I’m sure you felt mortified. So did I when I completely forgot to meet a friend for coffee. And I apologised profusely. I assume my friend was upset and disappointed, even angry with me. However, as I discovered recently, that might not be all he was feeling.
Another friend of mine committed a similar social blunder: arriving late for a concert, with my ticket. He was as mortified and apologetic as I had been. But I felt rather little annoyance or anger. Instead, I quite honestly laughed it off. It was a minor inconvenience. My friend had made an honest mistake. But he had also given me a boon: the chance to be the forgiving friend, the one who passes over a social mistake. He gave me a measure of social superiority. For this night, and to some extent every time I bring up this event (a light-hearted and good-natured anecdote, of course), I would play the role of magnanimous alpha male.
I exaggerate a little, of course, but only a little. The truth is I was barely conscious of the social role I was taking on, one that had been offered to me on a silver platter. But I played it none-the-less – even if somewhat unwittingly. Because I did feel good, smugly so. It was nice to say (notwithstanding the truth of these statements) things like “It doesn’t matter”, “I really don’t mind”, “It happens to everyone.”
I don’t usually have occasion to revel in such social superiority for very long. I am a social klutz and will inevitably do something similar or act awkwardly and nerdy enough to evaporate such gains. But it is nice, once in a while, to know I have friends who may just feel the same way.