I don’t know how I’ve surrounded myself with people who are so annoying.

A very close friend of mine and I recently took a weekend trip. Lars (not his real name) and I have traveled together dozens of times over the years and always had a blast. He’s so funny he makes me pee, and I am as comfortable with him as any human being on the planet.

But on this particular weekend, I knew things were gonna go downhill fast when we arrived at the hotel (which I had paid for) and he had issues with the décor.

“It’s just trying too hard,” he sniffed.

Then, he had issues with the hotel’s clientele.

“These girls’ dresses are so short, you wouldn’t even need to lift the hem to insert.”

And with the guy talking too loudly in the spa.

“Inside voice, please! Or do they not have those in Appalachia?”

He had issues with the non-working refrigerator in the kitchen.

“I’ve already unpacked,” he announced when the front desk clerk volunteered to move us to another room, “my unmentionables.

He had issues with having to pay a brief visit to female friends of ours.

“Why can’t they come to us? Did Gloria Steinem empower women to do anything besides torch their boulder holders?”

He had issues with having to change hotels for the final night (which I had added on at the last minute).

“What are we, on the lam?”

 In short, he was thoroughly cranky and unpleasant.

When I returned home, I told my partner about all the nasty remarks and difficult behavior. I was appalled, absolutely appalled that someone I was so close to could behave so abominably.

“All I was trying to do,” I complained, “was give the two of us a fun getaway, and he turned it into an endless barrage of criticisms and tense moments. Why am I being so tormented?” I outstretched my arms in a subliminal Christ-like motion.

“Remember when we went on that cruise to Mexico,” my partner said gently as I unpacked, “and you hated the room and pouted for about a day and a half?”

“THAT,” I replied, “was different. It was under the pool!”

“Or when you couldn’t get the car you wanted in Portland and you threw a hissy fit at the counter?”

“I wanted a hybrid! I was trying to be green!”

“Remember when we were in New York and you said ‘Moving around this hotel room requires lube and a diet plan”…?

“And your point is…?” I snapped.

“You’re friends with Lars so that your rough edges can rub up against each other. You see in him some of the same behaviors you don’t like in yourself. He’s a mirror for you.”

This from a man who claims to have never heard a Marianne Williamson lecture.

“Well,” I said haughtily, “a funhouse mirror, maybe.”

“And God knows,” he added as a highly unnecessary afterthought, “what rough edges you’re scraping all over him.”

But I knew he was right. Lars and I have been major teachers for each other on a variety of awkward, uncomfortable, super un-fun topics for years. ( He could doubtless write a dozen entries just like this, about which the less said, the better.) I’m Oprah to his Gayle, he’s Edith to my Archie. He has his bad days, and, I sure as hell have mine. But hopefully, bad days like this one teach us both a little something about ourselves.

So I guess I should thank Lars for being my mirror. But next time, I think I’d rather him be my Dorian Gray picture.