I don’t like you
February 4, 2008
I don’t like you, I love you.
In general, most of the things you do I won’t like. I’ll judge it as stupid, ignorant a waste of time. I probably won’t tell you, either. I’ll just watch. I don’t need to watch TV anymore because real people have become by favorite TV show. You tell me about how you’re on this side or that side of the Writer’s Guild strike and I think both sides are somewhere between funny and pathetic. I’m trying really hard to care about the guild enough to have an opinion, to root for one side, but though I’m a member of the guild I feel like I’m watching someone else’s fight. It’s like two ass-holes start punching each other in a biker bar and no matter how much I find out about both parties I don’t find anything to root for.
I feel like a bad person. You would probably look at me and think I’m good. I love my wife, I nurture my family as best I can. I pay my taxes. I give more money than you to charity. I also give a higher percentage than you do to charity…and I’m a bad person. We’ve already gone over my spotty good works when it comes to recycling. But even I left a zero carbon footprint I wouldn’t be a good person. I’m bad, yet I’m surrounded and loved by hoards of really good people. I don’t just mean pleasant people, I mean that I am loved by the best people I’ve ever known. I don’t deserve it, but I’ll sleep in this bed all day.
I’m driven by a sense of guilt. I can’t have you read this about me and go away thinking I’m a good person. I could start giving more and more specific sins I’ve committed in thought word and deed and trust me, it would take less than five seconds to convince you I’m bad. So it’s important to me that you think I’m a bad person. You don’t really know me if you think different. You can choose to live in the delusion that I’m good, but that’s your opinion, your wrong opinion.
You may also be a bad person, and I wouldn’t know either way. But most of the good people I know also admit to me in secret that they are really bad people. See, I can’t see into your head or into your heart, but you can. You know everything about you. I’ll take your word for it that you’re a bad person too. If you tell me you’re a good person I’m not sure how I’m going to take that. I’ll probably assume that you’re just so bad that you think being bad is good. It’s also okay with me if you are a genuinely good person too. There’s room for that.
My son doesn’t play much with other children. They invite him to play on the playground and he usually grabs a toy and runs off to a corner and plays by himself. I admit that I feel a lot better when I see him playing with other kids, but I’m pretty open to him doing his own thing as long as he can fake liking other people enough to get by. I don’t like crowds of people, even when those crowds are made up of my friends. I’ll tend to grab one “toy” and go off to a corner to talk rather than mix it up with lots of folks. They get a little noisy and I find it really hard to juggle all of the details of their lives at once. I can’t remember people’s names I should know by now.
One thing I really love about people is how everyone carves their own way through life. Life is difficult and every person negotiates success and failure in their own way, springing coping mechanisms and making babies along the way. Ever see Forrest Gump? His talisman is a drifting feather. That’s my Beloved, she transcends this life, drifting on a breeze in victory over the earth-bound. I don’t understand how one pulls that off and I’m even watching it first-hand but there she is. She’s doing it. I’m Major Dan-ing the whole shebang– my legs are chopped off and I’m going nuts up on the mast of our shrimp boat as I pretend to be a captain. My Beloved says I’m a pretty good captain and that alone is probably what allows me to sleep at night.
At 17 years old I left the home of my youth. My life changed on that day and I generally consider my 17th year my real birthday. Now there were moments in my life where significant revelations tilted my paradigm a bit, but nothing like leaving home. Even more significant than leaving home was the single prayer of an unlovable, lost, teenage flagpole whispered to God while in bed one night, “God, send me someone.”
I can’t know on this side of the afterlife if it was God or not, but things have changed a lot since them. A short time later I was buried in friends, lovers, pals, warm people, little people made of meat and ghost who mysteriously stood by my side. I have more friends than I know what to do with. I have to turn friend applicants down. I got married, and if you knew me you’d probably consider that some sort of miracle. Now I’m buried in children. Four of them. I will never be alone. Few of my prayers are answered by God but that one he sure as hell did–with a fire-hose. If He answers that prayer any more I’ll never get 6 hours of sleep. God! That’s enough! I get it! I’m not alone any more!
Liking you is over-rated. It’s really easy to like you, just make sure you shower every so often, pay a few compliments here and there and don’t be mean. Ah, but to love someone…good luck with that. Me? I love me some people. I love car wrecked lives. You’re just like me. Kindred spirits. Considering I’m commanded by God to love my enemies I even love some of the most unlikable people imaginable. A few of my friends will see me hanging with X or Y and ask, “How can you stand that guy?” and come to think of it, I don’t like him either. I love him.