During my years in college in Los Angeles, I acquired the nickname Ado Annie from some friends of mine who were aware, and found humorous, my difficulties in saying no to requests of others, especially if I knew I could fulfill them. This is the source of considerable mischief and complication in my life, as I take on responsibilities that if they are not necessarily difficult definitely make my life more complicated. There are many examples that I could choose from to explain this phenomenon, but there is a good one from today that is part of a larger pattern, and one that I have written about before . Today, at services, I was asked to sing alto, for the second time ever, with a small a capella vocal ensemble that will be singing in Mexico. The song is an easy one, “Search Me, O God,” and given the composition of the vocal group, it is certainly an appropriate tune, asking God to search out my secret sins and why I enjoy torturing myself and putting myself in harm’s way to help others out.
For those who are not familiar with this reflective, harmonic song (in which the altos sing exactly three notes in the entire song, the root, the sixth, and the fifth), the gist of the song’s point comes from Psalm 19:12-13, which reads: Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.” To be sure, we all struggle against our own characteristic problems, and some of us feel compelled for one reason or another to be open about our struggles and our desires to be imputed as righteous, regardless of our struggles, with a sincere desire not to be enslaved to sin. The fact that these powerful words are tied to a beautiful Maori melody adds to the interest of this particular tune, for some of us do rather invite scrutiny in our lives, whether or not that is entirely beneficial to us.
Getting back to the original point, I am sure that not everyone knows who Ado Annie is in the first place, and there is a story here. Ado Annie is a character from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical Oklahoma, which is like the state, only with singing and dancing, as the joke goes . As a character, she is a complicated one, a generally sweet person who happens to be a bit too flirtatious and trapped in a complicated romantic situation because of her inability to say no. Even though the musical is a comedy, there is a genuine sense of danger in her vulnerability, given that she nearly ends up trapped in a relationship with a dishonorable man who wants nothing to do with her rather than with a decent young man who loves her, even if she is rather infuriating with her casually flirtatious ways, eventually agreeing not to flirt with anyone else after her near miss. Clearly, apart from my own difficulties in setting appropriate boundaries, the characterization certainly applies to people other than me, and happens to be a forboding issue in my own life and the lives of others close to me.
Perhaps the comparison of me to Ado Annie  is something that would make other people laugh, and that is what such aspects and quirks of our personality are best for, to remind us not to take ourselves to seriously, even if our quirks and vulnerabilities can have some serious consequences at times . Even as we laugh at such portrayals and characterizations we see of people whose quirks mirror our own (even if the reasons for those quirks are not always well-understood, in the case of Ado Annie at least), we might laugh a bit uneasily in the knowledge that we can relate a little too well to those we are laughing at, which might spur in us a desire to minimize our own potential weaknesses by doing what we can to overcome our vulnerabilities, learn how to set appropriate boundaries, and find ourselves a better fate than we may deserve, and one that is for our benefit, regardless of our quirks and the consequences of the lives that we have lived and what we have had to endure against our wishes and contrary to our will.
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 See, for example: