Everybody has that one person in their life who's only song they sing are The Blues. Who's optimism is limited to feeling lucky only when they did NOT find themselves in yet another clusterfu*k. Whose very existence is so pathos evoking that you go through a box of Kleenex just mustering up the strength to answer the phone when you see their number on your caller ID. Yes, I'm talking about your pathetic friend.
You know them well, EVERY day is another fire to extinguish, a crisis to avert, another so-called injustice of life thrust on them yet again, and as a friend it is your job to listen, console, and rescue. Some days you don't understand why you remain friends with such an energy-sucking entity, except that when you are having a rough day, their ability to relate is so comforting. Ever made a really bad choice in your life, and it threw you so far off the path you wanted to be on, you didn't even recognize your own surroundings? Ever had a good thing going on in your love life, and you sabotaged it for no good reason? Ever felt like you were hanging off a cliff, but when you looked down, your pathetic friend was already a step ahead of you free-falling to their fate quicker than a bunji-jumper who's cord snapped? OK...maybe those are some extreme examples but, just wanted to give you a little more time to identify YOUR pathetic friend. Shouldn't be hard, we all have one.
Pathetic friends are the ones who eat all day, but complain about being fat. They watch soap operas all afternoon, but complain about being broke. They get excited, only when the Star Trek conference comes to town and they are quite comfortable letting life happen to them. Pathetic friends aren't incompetent in any way, they are caring, sometimes funny (in a self-deprecating kind of way), they might know a lot of random stuff that you mistake as intelligence (from sitting on the couch all day) and they make you feel better about whatever mess you've gotten yourself into because by and large, they're in worse shape than you.
Pathetic friends get mad at you for suggesting they do something different. In their sick, twisted way, they are comfortable with their feebleness. Being in a state of constant despair gives them purpose. Not feeling that they are worthy of anything great, they poison possibilities with inevitabilities. Pathetic people act like they don't care what people think about them, but in truth, it consumes them. The truly successful people of this world are loners, as they care little about "popularity" and more about "efficacy".
I once had this absolutely pathetic friend who was a beautiful, talented, aspiring ballet dancer. Her dancing was entrancing. There was no question in my mind that she would one day be part of The National Ballet of Canada. Yeah, she came from the school of hard knocks, but who didn't? Opportunity was knocking on her door! And you know what? She sabotaged herself. It didn't matter that she had made a slight misstep at 14 and gotten pregnant in Grade 9. Her baby's father and his family were super supportive, so much so that she end up moving in with her baby father's grandparents much of her adult life. They loved her, and they loved their great-grandson. It was 13 years later when she decided to have another baby, for a guy that already had 4 children, and whom had been keeping her a secret because he was her boss that it all went downhill. Last I heard, she was in Scarborough somewhere collecting welfare.
People make mistakes, and move on from them. Only the pathetic allow their mistakes to dictate the rest of their lives.
There is a difference between people who are down on their luck, and those who don't even give luck a chance. Pathetic used to mean someone or something that invoked feelings of pity or sympathy, but now it is something closer to being beyond repair. These people have a place in your life (even if it is just to make you feel a little better about yourself), but don't let your bleeding heart be led astray by the compelling sob stories of your pathetic friend. Nobody held a gun to their head and said, "Continually do the wrong thing. Allow yourself to be consumed by your mistakes and rid yourself of all the positive influences in your life." But each person has to choose their own "path" in life. They just happened to choose one that intersects with "etic".