“It’s a lot like being a lobster,” my co-worker said of our former parent company while sitting in a conference room with mold colored walls and uneven flooring. “If you’re plunged into hot water, you notice and scream. But if you’re set into cold water, you don’t always realize that it’s gradually getting warmer until it’s already too late. By the time you notice it’s boiling, you’re cooked.”
It’s stuck with me, this morbid analogy full of crustacean death, because it applies to so many things. Employers, eating too much rich (but tasty) food, and even personal growth.
And I know that one sounds weird, but it’s true and I have an example to back me up.
You see, recently we reconnected with a friend we hadn’t seen in some fifteen years. He was a steady force in our lives for a long time, but due to personal conflicts, he’d disappeared.
I’ll spare you the sob story. Won’t bother listing the demons he’s stopped running from and started fighting. That’s not what this is about… In this story, he simply serves as a timestamp.
While he was wandering his path, he didn’t leave that mindset he had fifteen years ago, while everyone I still surround myself with has.
(Well, almost everyone. They’re not perfect, they’re just also not full of patriarchal hogwash.)
There were a lot of little things at first. Small throw-away comments that made my eye twitch but didn’t necessarily mean he was an ass-backward douche. I mean, he used to be so “woke.” How could he possibly be less than I am?
And then one of our trans friends came up in conversation…
My best friend kept looking between the two of us, shock obvious on her face as our friend sat there and justified misgendering our friend because, well, they were that gender when he knew them.
Wide-eyed she tried to explain how he was always a guy as I sat mute, tallying up all the previous comments until I came to the realization.
Our friend is an asshole.
And I could try to justify it, saying that he’s always been there for us. That he helped us whenever we needed it. Whenever he could. That he was dealt a shit hand in life and–
Except, no. My best friend, who opened her house to this guy, told him he was wrong and why and he argued the point with her because he is “woke” and obviously he knows.
The next morning he proceeded to tell us about this woman he knew who had slept with over one hundred guys so obviously he didn’t sleep with her even though she was already naked and she got upset but what did she expect…?
Can you feel it? Can you feel how done I am with him right now?
At first, I felt guilty. Because guilt is my go-to. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I should have explained better and harder. But then I remembered that things were pointed out to him and he doubled down.
So, basically, I just got to wash my hands of this whole situation. I mean, he’ll always have a place in my heart and my memory… but as long as no one wants that place first burnt and then salted so nothing will grow… it’s for the best if we just terminate this friendship.
And it was as I stood there, at the crossroads of high school friendships and feminism, that I realized that the water had been getting warmer all along without me noticing. I’d changed. I was a phoenix lobster, reborn from the boil.
Okay, maybe it’s not the most solid analogy I’ve ever come up with…