The difference between envy and jealousy
■ Dave Porter / Contributed
Junior was having girl problems last week and he brought them to the cigar shop with him. Guys are fixers. If you don’t want the guys at the cigar shop to help fix your problems, then don’t bring them in. You don’t go to the car mechanic to whine about your brakes or to bemoan the fact that your oil needs to be changed; you go to get them fixed.
Most men of a certain age have figured out that not everyone wants help fixing their problems. They just want someone to listen. But not in the cigar shop. We don’t have a couch to lie on. We do have a couple of psychologists, but unless you’re paying them by the hour, they’re just part of the group.
So, Junior comes in. I don’t know his real name. We call him Junior because he’s about half the average age in the place. I don’t know if he has a father he can talk to, but let’s face it, kids don’t talk to their dads; they talk to other dads. And in the cigar shop, most of us have some parental experience. That doesn’t make us experts, but it does make us opinionated.
Junior is in his early 20s. A millennial. So, in the minds of the Baby Boomers, that already makes him materially flawed. He’s grown up on microwaved food, color TV and cell phones. He’s never walked beans or detasseled corn. He gets most of his news from social media and thinks the rest of us don’t know anything about computers. He doesn’t get it that his computer class in school was keyboarding while ours was programming.
Anyway, his girlfriend broke up with him a couple of months back. We could all see that coming. Of course, Junior insists that he broke up with her because his instinct is to cast blame and avoid responsibility, which is part of what led to the break up in the first place.
She’s trying to date again and move on, but he keeps getting in the way. He says he doesn’t want her back, but he doesn’t want anyone else to have her, either. He insists that he’s not the jealous type, and Paul, who knows it all, pointed out that his behavior really couldn’t be classified as jealousy. He then gave us a dissertation on the difference between jealousy and envy.
He pulled on the lapels of his silk smoking jacket like he was Stephen Douglas getting ready to debate Abe Lincoln. “Envy,” he said, “is when you want what someone else has but not at their expense. Jealousy, on the other hand, is when you want what the other person has and you don’t want them to have it.” Then he gave examples. “If you have money and I don’t, I might be envious because I want money, too. But if I want your money, that’s jealousy. I don’t know what it’s called when you don’t want them to have it, but you don’t want it for yourself, either.”
“I do,” said Big Vince from the big leather chair in the corner. “It’s called ‘nuts.’ ‘Pyscho.’ ‘Crazy on the verge of becoming a felony.’”
After a round of confab, we decided that Junior was experiencing a type of jealousy. Even though he did not want her back, he was jealous that she was in a relationship and he wasn’t. We proffered, and he agreed, that if he were in a new relationship, her relationship with someone else would not be an issue for him.
This was held out as proof that what he was experiencing was, indeed, jealousy. We also covered the topics of stalking, inappropriate control issues, letting go and mutual respect. We’re very thorough in the cigar shop.
The consensus was that Junior should leave the girl alone and grow up a bit. Stop playing high school games. Big Vince offered to take him out to the parking lot and knock some sense into him. You can always count on Vince for the sensitive approach.
Junior, perhaps feeling a bit ganged up on, left the shop and we figured he would continue to harass the girl but maybe some of the things we said would sink in.
“Maybe we should leave it alone,” said Al, another one of the guys. “Peer pressure is supposed to be a bad thing, isn’t it?”
“We’re not his peers,” Vince said.
“Well, we’re not his parents, either,” Paul chimed in.
“It takes a village,” I said.
“This is kind of a village, isn’t it?” Al mused.
“And you’re our idiot,” Vince said.
The conversation then moved onto more pressing matters such as North Korea, the economy, taxes and football. Mostly football.
© Copyright 2017 by David Porter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could take a problem to any cigar shop, and I guarantee it will be fixed. It may not be fixed right, but it will be fixed.