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JWR 3.6 - ...in the forest of the night...
I’ve come to the conclusion that you simply can’t get a straight answer out of anybody.
Moreover, you are not able to give a simple, straight answer without causing misunderstanding.
I’ve caught glimpses of myself when I am driving, and although there is usually no expression, my non-expression face looks mean, I gather. And here’s how I know: if I’m asked a question that only requires a “yes” or “no” answer, I’ll often give a “yes” or a “no” as the answer, and I’ll also often do it with the non-expression that looks like a mean expression on my face. There are certain people who you may see day in and day out who think that they know you, but don’t simply because you know they don’t. They may know things like what you sound like when you sneeze or what your favorite radio station is, but they don’t know the major things, the important things that may not be so major. So, when asked a simple question, I’ll give that simple answer. And I say “simple” not to imply that the question is lacking in any way, rather to convey that the question is a valid one that deserves an answer, just not a long-winded one. “No,” I say.
“Well, dang! You don’t need to get rude about it.”
And then my contemplative looks are varied, but I believe my usual one is where I’ll lower my owbreyes almost into a squint which, by the way, scrunches up most of the rest of my face so that it may actually look like a scowl...like I’m getting madder. This is when the next comment comes which is about how I shouldn’t be the one who’s mad, or something equally improper. Maybe these people think that because they know me, they pressure themselves to see conclusions about my mood that invariably turn out to be wrong. I must address them and say, “I am not your husband; you don’t know what my quirky sounds mean of what this expression means. For example, this expression...means that I like kitties.”
After the second comment, I’ll walk away without a comment of my own. They see it as me getting mad and stomping off whereas what it really is is me getting tired of assumptions, and incorrect assumptions at that, being made about me and me turning and walking away over a floor that has more creeks than...than....uh, a rusty-framed bed with two fat fucks banging on it. (Yeah, you press me for a simile and you get uninspired nonsense.)
Usually, I’ll give what’s needed and especially in a work environment because that’s what’s asked. If a layered question came at me that said, what do you think, or how do you feel, or what is your interpretation extrapolation insight belief assumption prediction recommendation guess, then you will get a more extravagant answer than “yes” or “no.”
“Do you want any lunch?’
It’s not like we’re on a late night talk show and my answers are entertaining millions by the clever things I have to say. Do you want lunch?
“Well, I feel that at this time, based upon the current contents of my stomach, the excess amounts of water I drank so far today, the humidity outside, my sympathy for the starving children in Uganda, the fact that these pants are already tight as it isssssssss, and, oh shit, the gravitational pull of the effing moon, that I will pass.”
You don’t get much straighter than that, huh? I’ll also try to extend my answers by saying, “No, thank you,” or “Yes, I would.” But to no avail.
The problem that I run into is when you ask a question, you are not answered with what you want to hear.
“Where do you keep your credit card receipts?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I’d like to see them.”
”Yeah, but why?”
“Because I need to compare them to something.”
“Oh, you’re looking over my work?”
People think that there’s some hidden agenda behind what you do.
A friend of mine asked me once if I believed that people only do things for other people if it benefits themselves in some way. I had to think about that and I said, yes, for the most part. People aren’t generous, not naturally...and this, too, falls under the “for the most part” category. Who would you say is generous? And I’d say that religious people are because of tithing. Now you tithe because the church tells you to. Or because it’s in the Book. And that’s fine, but you wouldn’t give money to a church if it wasn’t asked of you. You may end up giving it to other groups in need, but that, also, is in the Bible...somewhere in the back. So, people aren’t naturally generous, I said, but added: however, you come to a point where you make friends and are more inclined to do things for them at a loss to yourself just because they are your friends and you want to help or show your love in some way.
We could get absurd and say that we do for friends because it makes us feel good and that is the reward we desire, or because they’ll reciprocate by doing something for you or giving something to you.
When you ask a question and are, in turn, grilled as to why you are asking, don’t you feel the urge to grill back? Because I feel it and I do. I find this the opportune time to lay into them and let them know that I have something to do, why are you keeping me from doing what I have do do, all I want to know is this one simple thing and not be bothered playing “20 Questions” from someone worried about how this may affect them in a way that would take them away from surfing the net for really neat-o scrapbook ideas, it’s not like when I give you the answer you are going to have a revelation as to oh, THIS is how the universe works, no wonder we have nipples; no, you will say, oh, big deal, it’s in the folder in the third drawer of the filing cabinet marked “W2,” I could look through ever drawer and box you have but you already know, this is why I came to you, so why don’t you save us both the time of playing this stupid fucking game of why are you checking my work and tell me where it is now so you can go back to doing whatever the hell you do, I can get my work done, we can put this whole thing behind us and maybe I’ll be more inclined to speak to you on a non-“professional,” and that is in quotes for a reason, baby, non-“professional” level at a point in the near future. Whaddya say?
But maybe this is all just me and you don’t experience this, and not just at a job but everywhere. Maybe you do experience it and you are okay with it, or you are able to ignore it. I can’t. And, I’ll admit, that I, too, play the game of asking questions before giving a response, and yes it is intentional, but only because you’re suspicious and want to know what they want to know.
The sad part is, you can take all that shit above and toss it, because work is work and I put in enjoyment where I can. I email images from google.com of things like a hand with the middle finger extended. I hide behind doors and spook various people from time to time. I put on a woman’s coat which is far too small for me and stomp around with my arms out front like Frankenstein’s monster. I once took a length of greenbar paper and fashioned it into a toga, wrapped around my waist and over my shoulder. I step into large garbage cans and tip them over. I carry around rolls of toilet paper just because. I do this to entertain myself and I do it because it entertains others which makes me happy.
When you are at the point where you are unable to communicate freely with people you are close to, people you love, people you want to love, when you have to mince words and shy away or avoid the issue, when you can’t be honest or you can’t say what you feel not because you are unable to express it but because you’re scared or, worse yet, because you feel embarrassed, then what’s the use of any of it? Just stop it all.
Nobody wants to be honest, it often seems to me. Not even me.
Copyright © 2002 John Lemut