Old World, New

May 5, 2009 at 1:27 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  When I was young, and my heart was an open book, I used to say, "Live and let live–"
  When I was younger, I used to think, "Ooooh, I’m *crazy*."  I paid too much attention to what was going on in my head, and I thought I was nuts.  Or insane, or different from other people–you know, that thing you get when you first start to pay attention to the differences between yourself and other people.  And of course, I always wore this as my own little badge of honor, that I’m some kind of wild and crazy guy.  But of course, I wasn’t.
  Now in the course of my social development, going to college and doing alot of drugs may or may not have helped.  But it did give me perspective.  It didn’t *then*, but it did later.  At the time I was socially awkward, the human equivalent of having your fly open in perpetuity.
  That only added to the "I’m crazy" feelings that I had.
  I came to realize, however, that the thing that makes me different from most people, including all of you assholes, is that I’m actually NOT crazy.  But all of you are.
  I’m not kidding.
  I’ve known some people that are nuts.  Quite honestly, most people I know are.  My best Kim is undiagnosed but at best she is a functioning bipolar.  At worst–I don’t know what you call it.
  My best friend Karl has a serious anxiety disorder and a drug problem, and yet he is the most sane person in his house, which also contains his brother, his brother’s wife, their son, and the wife’s brother.  And a few large dogs.  All of them, including the dogs, are medicated.
  Not even going to mention Detroit’s sister.  She’s not crazy; she’s merely lazy and stupid, and stubborn about it.  My sister is actually nuts in the head.  Pretty much every thought process she has is going to be the wrong one.  If she ever made a correct decision, it was by accident.
  Most people I know I have to…make an accommodation for.  And that’s my personal definition of insanity, because it’s realistic, and it has a measurable gauge for just *how* insane someone is.
  As a big for instance, my ex-wife:  I had to always carefully measure what I was going to say to her, and when, and how, to take into account her reaction to it.  Do you understand now?  Does that make sense?
  Stan, at Domino’s, is another one.  In conversation, I let it go in his direction, but I steer it away from topics that I know are troublesome for him.  The boy has issues.  He is so secretive about his personal life.  If he had a blog…it would be blank.  He wouldn’t want to give up any information.  Too many walls, too much trauma.
  My beloved sweetheart Detroit, God love her, I don’t have to make accommodation for when I talk to her…except for when I want certain things.  It’s a strategy game, like playing Risk.  Other than that, though, it’s pretty straightforward.
  I mean, I can talk to anyone, and I can talk to them on their level.  You’re nuclear physicist and you want to talk shop?  I have some questions about neutron decay.  You’re a street thug selling crack?  How much does a gram go for these days?  Of course, being able to do this is not always a good thing, because if you talk to black  people in their native tongue (Ebonics) they think you are mocking them.  I –okay, I have to tell this, because when I lay awake at night thinking of the mistakes Ive made in live, this is not a big one, but it just embarrasses me now to think about it.  It was a solid 17 years ago, and hopefully all the participants have moved or forgotten, or hopefully they are dead.  I don’t like loose ends.
  Anyway, I’m not going to use his name because I don’t want him to Google it and find out I’ve written about it.  His name is Mike, and he is black, although he did have that odd affliction Michael Jackson has (not pedophilia, the other one) where his skin turns white in splotches.  He worked at Domino’s, and there were rumors that he was gay, which he denied a little too vigorously.
  Anyway…I saw him in a grocery store with a couple of white guys (and now the gay thing is starting to dawn on me anew) and I walked up to him.  Geez, this is embarrassing. I want to never ever do this again.  Fuck.  Listen, I was maybe 24 or 25 years old, which I maintain is still young and stupid.
  "MIKE!  What up, my brother?  What be happenin, dog."  I said it loud, and I said sounding as black as I could, which is very.  God, how awful.  I thought about it later, and now, and I cringe.  You don’t need to completely submerse yourself into someone else’s culture for them to understand you.  If he was a fag (and he was) I didn’t need to walk up to him sucking a dick.  Putting it in that context, I chose the lesser of two faux pas.

  But I came to this realization the other day when we here at work were going to order lunch.  Serena, my Korean friend, of say I must place order.  I knew that.  She want to order something different, but don’t know what, she have a question.  She want ME to call and ask question for her, so she know what she wanna order.  I told her she can call.  And she can ask.  And then she can hang up.  Really.  Her response by email?  "Er…..No."
  I confront her, and another girl Peggy steps in.  She no like to make the phone calls either.  What the hell is it with people?  Everyone has a cell phone, myspace, facebook, twitter, and email. and still some are leery–is the cell phone too personal?  If they could text the question, it’d be less…*in your face*.
  Custom and manners and social rules–these are different everywhere.  And I’m going make a leap from this to world-wide society, and why Americans are the best and yet it may be our downfall.
  A friend of mine whom I have not seen in decade is a vegetarian.  He is learned and scholarly, and full of himself.  We get along famously.  He remarked that he was going to have dinner with some foreign friends of his, and I’m not sure of the nationality but I believe it may have been India.  He said that while he is a vegetarian, if *their* custom dictated that he partake of something meaty, he would, so as not to offend.
  I agreed with him at the time in principle–however:  we in this country are ALWAYS making accommodations to other nations.  Look, if we have a visitor from another country, we try to do things *their* way, to make them feel "at home"  Plus, we like to try different things, and experience different cultures.  But then, if we are a visitor in their country, do they try to do things *our* way?  No, we adapt to their way.  Always.  They don’t want to try new things.  Especially if they are a middle eastern country, they are quite content to do things the same way that they have for the last 1400 years.  Frankly, I am tired of that shit.  I am proud of my white European Anglo Heritage and the customs and heritage I get from it.  You liberal Americans who have "we are the world" playing in your head constantly should try to embrace your own American heritage.  Your unique American culture.  Try it out before you dismiss it as parochial or conventional.
  So these are my conclusions:  We make accommodations for individuals because they are insane.  It makes things easier, but are we enablers?
  Conversely, as a country we make accommodations for other nations which are never enough–our relationships with other nations are like a bitchy ex wife who is never happy with the settlement.  In essence, that makes other nations the insane ones, and it makes us, the US, the enablers of the world.
  As a nation, we need a twelve step program.


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