I was asked by laruth to do the meme in which one lists out twenty facts about oneself. Ruth is one of those really kind people here on LiveJournal, and I cannot in good conscience refuse to play.
But I do like to morph memes about until they work for me. They are my personal children's toys--rather like the ones in the movie Big, which at one point are skyscrapers, and at another robots. But perhaps buildings are indeed, as in the movie, no fun at all. Yet I love transfoming things. I will take her meme, and rebuild it on what is, for me, a higher place.
This week I think of ambiguity, and how often one is misconstrued when one is acting with the highest motives and with the simple practical virtue. I mus t admit that while confusion frustrates and confounds me, confusion is part of the equation that gives our lives a story-telling quality.
I could tell you twenty wonderful things about me, and you would not know me any better than you do already. But may I tell you instead twenty ways in which people have been confused? You might learn more about me, and in particular my flaws and vanity, in a recitation of error than in a recitation of my trivial strengths. As I begin it, I realize it will come out a bit bitter, and a bit rueful, but
I suppose I can own up to those flaws, in vague measure.
I will address myself to hypothetical accusers. My mind works well in an adversarial vein.
To my accusers, both malign and benign, with detachment, warm regards and a something akin to a mosquito bite on my ego, I hereby contend:
1. You were mistaken when you thought that I made the comment "I'm in lust!" when you walked by. Granted, you were indeed an atractive woman, and granted that in my college days I was eager, if not able, to expand my horizons somewhat. But in fact, some stranger the size of two skyscrapers, wearing overalls the size of a kingsize quilt, made that comment. It is virtually the last thing I would ever say about or to any stranger, in that time or at any time. I really wish you had not, a year or so later, whispered quite aloud to your friend what you thought I said, as I did not say it. It would never have occurred to me to say it. It would never occur to me now to say it. Your idea that I said it mortified me.
2. You were mistaken when you announced on the radio station that the fellow who shot John Lennon was my college roommate. It's true that the fellow who shot John Lennon was somebody's college roommate, and had, as I did, Arkansas ties. It's true, also, that I had one very eccentric college room-mate, for a semester or two,
for whom I feel a kind of fondness even yet. He did not shoot John Lennon, though. He did join the Peace Corps for an abortive stint teaching computers to pygmy tribespeople, but that's a different story for a different time.
3. You were mistaken when you thought I wouldn't mind if you invited your boyfriend along on our date. I was pretty compliant, but not quite that compliant.
4. You were mistaken, years ago, when you believed that I did not understand exactly what you were doing in that business matter, exactly how you pulled it off, and exactly how I would prove it, should I choose to do so. Your fatal flaw was and is your belief that you have a kind of radiated glory not obvious to others, which allows you extra leeway. It's perhaps good self-esteem, but it's not particularly effective living. You don't understand that life is too short for me to call your bluff, as it harmed only me. But I could have done so. It was not even a clever thing for you to do. You are mistaken when you imagine I did not know the reality of the bluff or the soft underbelly of how the bluff pulled off. You were secondarily mistaken when you imagined that with the situation reversed, I would have done the same--because you should know that on the contrary, I would have done the opposite. Indeed, I think you do know that. I think you are mistaken when you think you fool yourself.
5. You were mistaken when you imagined that I would not understand by the intonation of your voice that when you said "nice to hear about your work" you were making a dig. I wonder if the people in your life are often as free of discernment of subtlety as you imagine me to be.
6. You were mistaken when you believed you would extract a benefit from the situation if you chose to make a pass at my friend very shortly after we broke up. All's fair in love and war, but you assured through your trench tactics that I'd have a lasting peace with our parting. I always feel words are better for communicating than misdirection.
7. You were mistaken when you told me that I was far too nice for you to date, as I had not asked you out, or even hinted in that direction, thus rendering the statement a kind of needless put-down rather than a well-chosen discouragement of a pursuer. Your real mistake, though, was that you needed some kindness after choosing such unkind men to date. I hope you ultimately found some, as you're a good person.
8. You were mistaken when you persecuted me over your erroneous belief that my sexual orientation differed from the majority orientation. You were wrong on the facts, but more importantly, you were wrong in your values. I still bear a scar or two from those needless bouts of harassment. It's odd enough being harassed for your life and choices. It's surreal to be persecuted for a trait you don't even possess.
9. You were mistaken when you imagined that the particularly narrow view of religion you were peddling was the only view conceivable. Although you weren't a bad fellow, I see in your life the seeds of a thousand similar misapplied lives, and the diasters wreaked on our society as a result. Don't fear the demons in their righteous wrath--fear the saints in their virtuous error.
10. You were mistaken when you thought you understood the complexities of this very technical matter better than you did. Your arrogance is something upon which I fed. I always feed off the arrogance of self-satisfied witnesses. I love it, by the way, when I line up facts you think I won't get, and see what you've done, and prove it. I especially love it when I do it by disproving every word that flies out of your mouth--as happens sometimes--but sadly, you weren't quite that easy to break. I'll settle for the win, though.
11. You were mistaken when you said you couldn't believe I listened to rock. You assumed I listened to classical. It would never occur to you that anyone would listen to both. I suspect you could only name five composers of classical music in any event. You were mistaken when you thought, somehow, I was going to be attracted to you to your advantage. It's not a very attractive sight--people who try to dangle themselves in business settings. I hope I was mistaken, and your intention was more benign--as the alternative is pretty ugly for you and completely boring to me.
12. You were mistaken when you thought I didn't know. I did know. Why couldn't we discuss it? It might have been fun, after all.
13. You were mistaken when you said that false thing, or, really, those false things, to me. You would have gotten a much more useful reaction from me had you told me the unpleasant truth.
14. You were mistaken when you debated onward, about the definition of bad poetry, long after I subtly hinted to you that I was teasing you. I was mistaken, though, to be so unkind as to not honor and respect your inability to "see" on this point. I should never indulge a love of debate at someone's expense that way.
15. You were mistaken in so many ways to let our opportunity go by.
16. You were mistaken not to join us when we invited you. You would have thrived in our group.
17. You were mistaken, because when I told you I was boring, you didn't believe me.
18. You were mistaken to preach that sermon on that day. I wonder if we're the only ones who never returned.
19. You were mistaken not to talk to me about it. Fortunately, there's still time.
20. You were mistaken if you imagined that I did not notice that I was solely the giver and not a taker. I usually don't mind that--we all give or take what we can. But it's a bit dense of you to imagine that I didn't notice.
It's always interesting, reliving the past. I think I'll move on to the future now.