I don’t use my blog much and maybe this is one of the better purposes a blog may serve…
I have known Mike for 17 years and he’s one of the most important people to me in my life – no exceptions, no qualifications. But talking to him is borderline impossible. We were talking tonight at his daughter, Elby’s, 5th birthday and his wife Lindsay’s 32nd birthday party. Lindsey is equally incredible as Mike if not more.
I don’t remember exactly where the conversation really started, but I do know it wasn’t overtly political. We tend to disagree politically. Eventually the main focus what “right and wrong”. I don’t even remember what got us there but I felt, and kept expressing, that he was relying on either/or and black/white thinking. I would try to explain to him why it was either/or thinking and I don’t think he was listening to me. It felt to me that he was more interested in bashing everything I said – EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T MY OPINION. I WAS TRYING TO CREATE A COMMON BASIS OF COMPARISON AND HE WOULDN’T LET ME.
It was clear to me that he was interested in proving his own point by not letting me say anything. Every argument he made, and I told him this (I don’t sugarcoat to my friends) was a static, a noise, a distraction. He wouldn’t even allow me to create a box to stand on much less use the box to reach an understanding. The point became destroying the box. Not allowing the box to exist. Destroy the stage. Destroy the common ground. Resist any frame of reference in the name of distraction and counter-productivity.
So I said pretend there is a right and wrong. And it’s important to understand I’m not talking about a right and wrong that the universe in and of itself observes. I’m talking about a right and wrong that a cross-section of rational human beings may agree on. He wouldn’t allow it.
“I can pretend.”
“But you’re refusing to pretend right now.”
“No I’m not.”
“OK so pretend, please, that you take 100 people and ask them if it’s OK to stab another person.”
“No. 100 humans.”
“But they’ll be biased.”
“Biased about stabbing people for no reason?”
“Yes. I can’t trust what other cultures believe.”
“So… can you pretend that they’re not influenced by something like *religion* or some other supernatural beliefs? Just accept what the majority of humans would likely think without some kind of crazy rules?”
“No. Everyone is influenced by something.”
“Can you pretend, just for me, that in this scenario THEY AREN’T?”
***As a sidenote: My use of quotation marks in this story is not entirely fair. Just accept that this is me telling a story and it could be 100% inaccurate, biased, and worthless 😉 ***
“So we were trying to talk and we can’t even establish a common frame of reference upon which to proceed. I feel you’re more interested in proving some kind of anarchistic antisocial crazy point of view. You won’t even let me pretend that humans believe stabbing people is wrong.”
“Well all you’re doing is complaining that I wouldn’t let you talk and all you are repeatedly doing is complaining that I won’t let you make a point. But you won’t make a point.”
“Mike, you’re only throwing up noise and irrational distractions. I’m lucky to stay in the same spot. I’m having to go in reverse just to desperately find a starting point. You don’t want a starting point. I don’t even remember what we were debating to begin with. I’m stuck trying to get you to *pretend* that a majority of people might feel a certain way about certain fundamental things – especially if they’re not told what to think by someone else.”
What’s weird to me is that I feel like I’m the totally normal rational reasonable typical person at this point. I’m not used to feeling like the voice of reason. At this point (or somewhere near here) I said “I can’t do this” and I stormed away. Yes. Like a spoiled brat I removed myself from the situation because I couldn’t believe how incredibly impossible the conversation became.
Now I’m the bad guy.
Leaving without saying bye. With any luck you’ll survive.
Yeah… Like it really matters. Who cares? Congratulations for turning the tables once again.
You can totally invalidate every basic universal point I try to make but I can’t call bullshit. To be fair Mike was the only one antagonizing me so I don’t really have an excuse for not saying bye to everyone else. But honestly: Do you really care? Did I damage your ego or something? If I did issue the standard disembarkation salutations would you remember it tomorrow? No. But somehow you will remember me being a jerk. Big surprise. (Seriously… This is usually a surprise to everyone but me.)
Mike eventually followed me and caught up with me liked the scorned lover in some made-for-tv movie. We then had an equally frustrating yet somehow more productive conversation than before. But now it was about “us” instead of reason, morals, or philosophy. I bluntly told him that I think if an unbiased observer was present they would feel I was being completely trampled by a stampede of silliness.
Lindsay, the birthday girl, did come and warmheartedly accepted that this was not permanent friendship damage. It was only extreme intolerable frustration on my part. Worse things have happened and it would take a lot of genuine problems to throw up any “issues” in our relationships.
Sarah, my ex girlfriend, was the first person I ever heard regularly using the term “issues” in this context. I didn’t know it was common and I found it kind of abrasive circa 1997.
Deep down, I regret that I didn’t say goodbye to you on that night in May of 2011. I’m not entirely sure why it matters but I will admit I wish I saw you more. Maybe when Elby turns 10 ;).
It is semi disturbing to me that Lindsey accepts and understands all our deep interpersonal bonds more than Mike does. It wasn’t like I’m angry or planning to avoid you. You’re too important to me.
I have to commit to record (why? what does that mean? who cares?) that I believe this impenetrable wall of confusion, distraction, stubbornness is the same impassible obstacle that has overwhelmed Lindsey’s psyche and caused her will to completely collapse under the weight of his irrationality in the name of relative peace in the household . I think she’s a different person now. With that said she’s still better than most other people. Trust me. So is Mike.
Love you guys.
Sorry, Sarah, for subjecting you to my abrupt departure. It happens.
I would like to reiterate that it was a 100% impossible conversation. I disapprove of this position you inadvertently trusted me into as the rational one. I don’t like it. How can the world possibly get along thinking that I make any sense. It’s nonsense. It’s unnatural.
On that note, I require a beer bottle that is not nearly so empty as the one I have here.
P.S. to those readers who were not present tonight. I also vehemently and passionately defended Les against basically everyone. I am extremely tired of this portrayal of Mr. Zmolik as a difficult or unacceptable person. He’s no worse than the rest of us and happens to be one of my favorite people ever. I told everyone that if I didn’t make periodic appearances and ooooh and ahhhhhhh people with my totally agreeable temperament they would talk just as must trash about me. It’s only because everyone needs a bad guy. Les is not the one. People waste precious time and energy disrespecting him.
You know the old saying “Stick with the devil you know”? Try bringing another so called antagonist into the mix and see how much you like it. The criticism he endures is ridiculous and I will make it my never ending purpose to preach his value if I have to. It makes no sense. So some people take their pants off sometimes. Get over it. It’s all in good fun. hahahahahaha wow.
By the way: What goes on in your own house is up to you because it’s your domain but you can’t rewrite history or tell other people what they think.
I think the main lesson here is that if I didn’t care about my true friends deeply I wouldn’t have wasted a single keystroke on them.