Some people can be tough to take, but on the bright side they’re character-building …

4:50 PM


(as appears in June 2008 issue of You! http://realmums.com.au/you/2008/06/01/some-people-can-be-tough-to-take-but-on-the-bright-side-they%e2%80%99re-usually-character-building-%e2%80%a6/)

Ladies and Gentlemen, charge your glasses for the world’s most popular best man! At a mind-boggling tally of 1,393 weddings between September 1975 and February 2006, Malaysian, Ting Ming Siong holds the Guinness world record for the most times one person has been best man.

Nearly fourteen hundred weddings!? That is huge chunk of your life – and liver – gone right there.

I have to wonder what it was about Ting Ming that made him such a desirable choice as best man? Was it because he was the most reliable ring holder? Or, was he the guy in town with the reputation for throwing the best buck’s parties? Whatever the case, it seems the general consensus amongst the fellas in Malaysia is that Ting Ming is a great bloke

Some people are just a fact in life –unignorable links with whom we share experiences and space. They help shape our very perception of the world and our reactions to it. They are the John to our Yoko; the Ramsays to our Robinsons; the Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha to our Carrie.

We celebrate these relationships with best man, best friend or godparent titles; invitations for coffee and catch up; or speedy text message exchanges over the latest Next Top Model evictee.

But it’s not all group hugs and friendship bracelets. Some people you just can’t escape. Try as you might.

Sometimes we are undesirably - yet inextricably - chained to people like co-workers, clients, siblings, in-laws and neighbours. (Actually, you could argue that our children are of the obligation-not-choice variety, but we’ll leave them out of this one).

Remember Darren and Samantha Stevens from Betwitched? Endora, Derrwood’s mother in law completely despaired of Sam’s choice in husbands who she had to spend time with if she wanted anything to do with her daughter. And by gum, who would have thought there would actually be such a problem between a whining, boring kill joy and a menopausal conniving witch dressed as a bad acid trip?

Thankfully, I would never put my in-laws in the same category that Darren Stevens would have his. That said, sometimes I think my husband’s parents and I come from very different planets. Nothing ugly or nasty mind you, we just approach people and issues from different angles.

Just after my son was born I had the strange realisation that my then-boyfriend’s parents had a claim of sorts over him. It was bizarre to me that even though I didn’t know these people that well, by default they played a huge role in my son’s life – genetically, historically and socially.

Yet despite our differences in personalities, opinions and philosophies, over the years I’ve actually come to appreciate – cherish even – the role of my in-laws in my children’s lives. The kindness, love and enthusiasm they extend to the people I love most in the world trumps anything else to make their presence a no-brainer.

Sometimes though, it’s not so easy to be Mr Brightside about people you can’t escape yet desperately want to throw off the nearest sky rise. Try as we might, it’s not always realistic to put up, shut up and use the lemons we’re handed to make vodka martinis.

Years ago I worked with a client who, how to say this diplomatically … was a needlessly cruel, misogynistic pig who constantly questioned my ability, yet went for all my ideas and despite making me pitch and repitch for his business year after year, kept giving it to me.

I cannot tell you how many times I ended up in tears (and tragically drunk) over that account and my failure to satisfy the client despite dedicating my very being to getting him the best publicity possible.

And in retrospect, I gained a lot from the whole desperate, nasty affair: a more concise writing style, an efficient approach to maximising tight budgets, the endurance to survive any toddler tantrum, and the conviction to never work with gratuitously critical clients again.

In this life there is desire and there is duty. And sometimes duty comes with your heart’s desire – whether that be your partner, your children, your neighbourhood or your job. If you choose to follow your heart, sometimes you get some company along the way that wasn’t necessarily invited – at least by you.

Maybe that’s why the majority of murders are committed by people known to the victim. Maybe if more people just refused to speak to, look at or be around our familiar contempt-breeders, the world would be a safer place!

But frankly? It’d be a pretty boring old world if we were all the same. We are all beautifully humanly flawed. Whether we actually want to accept their Friend requests or not, some people are just destined to be part of our profile page.

One of my mum’s most comforting sayings is that “everything happens for a reason.” And maybe everyone happens for a reason too.

It’s my experience that even the most negative experience is positive for personal growth - whether it be tricky in-laws that are the world’s best grandparents, a ball-busting client that pushes you to new levels of career enlightenment or a pesky neighbour with a spare car space going begging.

And think about it, these people are doing us an incredible service. Imagine if we couldn’t bitch about them …. what would we do with all our free time?

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