Friday, October 26, 2007
"I'm funny. And great honks, people like me!" That is not what he said. At least, not out loud. But everyone needs a phrase to get their adrenaline pumping when they're about to draw all attention to themselves, so that is what he thought. Then he stepped up to bat. And by "to bat" I mean, "to do," a reckless thing. And "to do," with the exchange of a few letters, is "to boo," which is what the crowd did. And "to boo," when said instead of read, sounds like "taboo." And taboo is exactly what he committed when he stepped up to the plate and spit his beef jerky cud all over the umpire's cleats. Needless to say, he struck out. The ump called strike three on a ball way outside and as high as the bleachers. He had expected as much after misplacing his jerky on the ump's shoe, but he still felt a bit mistreated. And then, as if an instinctive reflex to his deflating mood, he suddenly thought, "I'm funny. And great honks, people like me!" His self-confidence restored, he marched back to the plate and spit the rest of his cud onto the umpire's cleats. The big man wasn't humored. Nor did his following actions demonstrate that he liked his assailant. The batter spent the remainder of the game in the locker room re-arranging the laces on his shoes. There comes a point in every one's mad rush at life, driven by pure adrenaline and reckless confidence, when the individual turns against his assumed friend--that "go get 'em tiger!" mentality--and the abuse begins. "I'm not funny. Stop saying I'm funny! You lied to me. People don't laugh with me, they laugh at me. Didn't you hear them! They think I'm an idiot; they don't like me! And who says 'great honks!' anyway. You're retarded!" The abuse would continue, except that the individual doesn't put the blame on himself--he puts it on whatever that thing is that keeps telling him he's funny. He blames something else for the way he feels and becomes certain that all he has to do is stand up and walk away from that nasty mean thing that keeps lying to him. The person is fully confident he can do just fine on his own now that he's severed ties with that . . . that thing. But the difference is only that he starts speaking to himself in first-person, instead of second. He really hasn't severed ties with anything. But on the illusion he has, he begins to rebuild the confidence he just took a sledge hammer to. "Tell me I'm funny and then watch me get laughed at! I'll show you funny! I'll show you what kind of a rock star I really am. And you won't get any credit this time, it's all me! Because gosh darn it, people like me!" Soon, though, he will forget to focus so exclusively on the thoughts firing around in his head and he'll slip back into second-person, especially just after doing something good. "See! You are funny! I told you you were funny. Did you see the way that guy laughed? Dang straight you're funny--don't you let anyone tell you again you aren't funny. And people like you!" But he'll do something inappropriate again. Just give him time. And when he does, it's back to the bench in the locker room to abuse the lying, deceitful, bag of mean tricks, evil, dumb, hate it . . . thing!! And then the mock trial, sentence, and severance party. Before you know it, he's back on his feet and recklessly experimenting with life again, driven by the same adrenaline he hates. But what happens when the man figures out what he's been doing his whole life? That he's been fooling himself in order to preserve himself? And what's the harm in a little hypocrisy now that he knows, if the result keeps him moving happily through life's ups and downs? I'll tell you the harm. He will one day hate hypocrisy, hate himself, and have no where to turn. Too tired of running away from himself he will take full responsibility, take all the abuse and stay seated on that locker room bench for a long while. He may sit there an eternity . . . or he may get up. But what gets him up this time? That is the question. Is it the first-person, the second, or the third? Or can he live without narrating his life at all? Who's the narrator anyway? And who said it was a mere "person?"