Monday, April 28, 2008

The Way the World Is

Allow me to draw aside the curtain for a moment, and speak as myself. FP is an odd mating of satire and angst, disguised as news commentary. It is an exercise in hyperbole and emotion. It is performance art.

Today, just as I had finished that last silly little thing, I got a call from somebody I have liked and respected. He told me that he and someone else had seen my blog and were very bothered and offended by what I had written about them, and that they were ending their association with me.

Well. This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. This time, though, it bothers me that people I care about have felt hurt. I asked what specifically was offensive, and didn't get a clear response, but I said if I was told I would remove the offending passages. Not meant as a palliative. It's just that I know the idea of things being out there can gnaw at us. And I don't mean to give offense. If I have a real problem with someone, I'll speak to them face to face. I've learned not to put it in writing.

The silly little things that I've played with in these pages were not meant to be read with sensitive, or malevolent, eyes. The conceit that I pretend to subscribe to here is that anyone who reads these posts will be in on the joke. Jack H is a vessel into which we pour everything that is egotistical, and wounded, and selfish and blind. Yet he expects to be loved. That's the joke. I guess it's gallows humor.

It bothers me, though. Shocks me, even, although I should certainly know better. I've known these men for three years. It pains me that after all that time I didn't rate enough good will to invite an explanation, rather than a dismissal. But that's how they would have felt. Cuz they took it seriously. There are real issues of course -- but these men haven't understood the excess. They don't understand that the pettiness and unfairness and self-righteousness are deliberate artifacts. So they will feel that I was utterly two-faced. I do have my pride, but that's not what's burrowing into me. It's that they are hurt, these men I respect, and there's not likely to be any way for me to fix it. There are of course real issues, as I say, which I addressed in a straightforward way. Or in a twisted way. The problem with this blog is that it's not as disjointed as it may seem. Context is everything.

For my part, I have to look now at these pages with the knowledge that someone deliberately went through them, methodically if not with understanding, taking notes perhaps, collecting and passing along things which that person meant to be taken as offensive. It would be someone I know, and undoubtedly someone I have liked. But what does that buy? There's nothing to be done about it.

The man on the phone told me that there were other things too. You know how it is. People need to bolster their case. What other things, I asked? I was looking for information. I don't argue. Oh, lots of things. What specifically? Well, you never say thank you. Oh. I thought I did. But I understood that it's not a debate. I could hear the controlled anger and offense in his voice. No debating that. And I know that, however much somebody may also add that there are things about me that are liked, they don't amount to anything, given how things have turned out. Eh?

I don't think of myself as a negative person. I make an effort to be neutral. I must be wrong. There's no irony here. Irony has to be random. If it's planned, it's just a setup for a joke. So it's ironic that I had just written that stupid little thing about searching through the archives. Cuz someone had just done that, today or yesterday, with the result we've just been looking at. But there is no irony at all in the fact that some random months ago this exact, perfectly exact scenario had already been dealt with, written about, in these very pages:

So as I was just finishing that last post, the little green man at the corner of my screen told me I'd just gotten an email, from K, the instructor where I roll.

This is what it's like to be me. I thought, Now why would he be sending me an email? The instant answer sprang into my imagination in this form:

Dear Jack H --

It is with regret that we inform you that we must terminate our association with you. We have received numerous complaints regarding your demeanor and conduct, and have been informed that some people have cancelled their membership on your account. This is of course costing us revenue, and as a for-profit business this present action is necessary. Your current payment will be returned to you on a prorated basis. Any personal articles may be claimed by appointment. We must ask that you not return here, however, during regular business hours. We wish you the best in life and in your future BJJ training, and we remain,

Yours Very Truly,


I kid you not. Something like that, in inchoate form. Sort of pathetic, I know. But that's what it's like to be me. This is close to the definition of paranoid.

Not ironic, I say, because it must have been, at some level, planned. I recall having sent that snippet of a fantasy to K in my emailed response. Ha ha. Big joke. It only took six months to come true. Planned, I say, and the author must be me. It's not that I expect more, from people. It's that I pretend to.

I don't know if it's worth it to make an appointment with these men and make my apologies. In person. Not for anything I've said. We should never apologize for the truth, or for being misunderstood when the meaning should be clear. Apologize for the offense that I've given, no matter the cause. I know that you can't reason with emotion, so some time would have to pass. And I know that reasoning has only a small part in the matter. Ah well, we'll see.

That's it then. I am profoundly saddened. I'm not what you'd call a friendly guy, and this, given my already awkward personality, seems to pretty much slam the door on three years of friendships. How deeply sad that makes me. I wasn't ready to say goodbye.



brent said...

I'll weigh in on this one. Every friendship to truly prove out has to be tested. Is there really friendship without offense and forgiveness? I don't think iron sharpening iron is always a pleasant experience. You hold out your heart and demonstrate what friendship is and hopefully someone will reciprocate. Not many do. Sometimes we want someone to accept us and all our little quirks unconditionally.

I say more here:

Jack H said...

Friends are valued. When we factor out the social lubrication of civility, I'm sure I can say that the two gentlemen in question can't truly be described as my friends. It does after all require some actual commitment of loyalty. And given that they themselves will be feeling betrayed, any attempt to get past their emotion is just doomed. Iron on iron is one of my styles, but only when it may do some good. Iron on a held-out heart ... well, I've done that. I'll let it be. On the scale of real loss, this is a five.