10 June 2014

Lessons Learned of Appreciating a Person Even While Judging Him (Or Her)


The chain-smoking red bull drinking skinny hipster was angry because his cell phone had been stolen. "I'm going to find out who took my phone and fucking kill him. I will kill him," he angrily proclaimed. Truth was that he couldn't knock over my grandmother. Guys like him always talk big but if ever confronted by someone over five feet tall with a few muscles he'd cower in the corner. A bunch of profanity laced empty threats was all he was worth. He'd be dead soon enough what with his rotten diet and cigarettes and drugs sometimes and no exercise and erratic sleep habits and the smoking. God the smoking. That'll kill him sure.

His name is Liam which I'm sure he thinks makes him kind of cool as if a name conferred anything on a person. Naturally this Liam character is from the suburbs. Usually city guys know not to talk tough unless they're prepared to back it up. We know how quickly someone can call you on your mouth or decide that you need to prove yourself or they want to prove themselves and you as Mr. Big Talker are just the person to use for that purpose. But these loud mouths from the sticks mostly haven't had their asses kicked let alone done it and dudes like Liam hadn't played any sports other than maybe whiffle ball in the backyard and some ping pong so they hadn't had to prove their mettle and been tested in competition. So big talk was easy for Liam.

Of course Liam would never come within miles of knowing who stole his cell phone it wasn't like he could do anything to find out or would even try for that matter. Talking a lot of loud bullshit is as far as he'd ever get on the matter that and stewing in his juices. It's something that Liam should be getting used to. His kind of mouthy is always a target for thieves and scam artists. As big as he talks he's just a sucker plain and simple.

Mind you Liam isn't a total waste of space. Not quite anyway. This guy is a veritable fountain of cultural trivia whether it's about popular films or music or TV shows or comedians or sports. And not surprisingly he has some pretty strong opinions about who was good and who sucked and especially about who was overrated. He tosses off his conclusions as casually as he burps and never says excuse me either for the gas or the obnoxious opinion. You could even elicit an opinion or two from it (like you'd want to) about art or literature but it isn't really from him knowing anything he's just going with boilerplate stuff he's ripped off from that one cultured friend he has. Liam hadn't picked up a book since finishing college which of course was a state university where he eked by getting a BA despite constant hangovers and failed romances and strangling debt which was part of his life yet.

Yeah so Liam is quite adept at spitting out his opinions which he'll do on any pretext but he's disinclined to listen to yours or at least solicit it. He'd sure as hell overhear what you had to say and either dismiss it out of hand or save it to use later for himself. Fact is Liam is forever snatching other peoples insights and making them his own repeating it like he'd done a lot of thinking which was far from possible. A cultural scavenger. Liam's mind is always going a mile a minute in large part because he's always so hopped up on coffee red bulls and diet coke but he never goes into depth thinking it's all this superficial bullshit that he's churned through. Thoughts will pass through Liam's mind like a mouse racing across a room.

Funny thing about Liam and guys like him -- of which there are too many for my taste -- he's always between romances. Men that self possessed are usually not appealing to women over the long haul. After a few weeks they see there's nothing in it for them and look elsewhere. The initial attraction was based on a certain charm that wears off real fast. Plus if there really into the physical side of a relationship the Liams of the world are always a disappointment not being athletic types and contrarily having as little endurance in the sack as they would trying to jog around the block. Speaking of  gettinr around the block Liam is a car bound creature. No bikes or walking. Avoiding public transportation like the plague.

At this point it might surprise you to learn that I don't mind working with Liam. Not at all. He is usually good for a quip and will stand still for one of my one liners. It's also nice that Liam never wears you down with endless conversations about weekend plans or weekends just passed or any of that other trivial bullshit that so goddamned many co workers will put you through. Like I'm supposed to give a shit that they're working in their garden this weekend or going to see someone in concert I've never heard of or they have a really close friend in town that they're excited to be hanging out with or that they're preforming a ritual slaying in the park at midnight with their cult. And do they really give a rat's ass that I'm doing this that or the other? Oh and I don't care if you got a really great night's sleep or tossed and turned or had a quiche you made yourself for dinner last night or ate at this new Burmese restaurant where they kill the wild boar right at your table. I don't care. Oh sure if you're one of the two or three friends I've made at work bring it on and brace yourself for my latest but if you're just one of the crowd leave me alone -- which is what Liam does. I appreciate it, man. He keeps to himself or keeps it light --

--- speaking of annoying co workers there's this one loony tune who goes well overboard I mean not just overboard but completely out of sight of the friggin' boat with her "I'm so happy for you!" s whenever someone leaves work for a better position or to go back to school or to move to another country or to finish a prison sentence. Can you really be that fucking happy for someone you barely know? Matter of fact I'm somewhat unclear on how you can be happy for someone else. I know in my case I'm quite adept at being happy for myself when good things come my way and I sure as shit don't need someone else being happy for me. Stay out of my happiness. Admire it from afar if you must but don't try to horn in on it --

and short. When you're grading papers or planning a lesson or just inhaling and exhaling after or before a class you don't need someone you barely know telling you their life stories and asking intimate details like when did you get potty trained or what's your concept of eternity. No thanks. Liam doesn't go in for any of that bullshit. Ask him a question and he'll answer it without launching into monologue. And if he asks you something its pertinent and doesn't require self hypnosis or hours of research at the National Archives.

So bottom line (and oh how we've come to like bottom lines in our society cut all the bullshit and tell me if I'm going to die tomorrow the rest is just details) is that Liam has his faults just like anyone else and his good points just like anyone else (though I'm still not certain Ms. I'm So Happy For You has anything going for her). It's damn easy to dismiss a person because they have this peccadillo or that. I've done that one helluva lot in my life and maybe lost out on getting to know some really cool people or at least some folks who might have helped me understand and appreciate the world or turned me on to a book or new way of considering things or told a good joke. Who knows? But we can lose a lot just writing people off willy nilly. I've been tempted at times to mentally tell Liam to go take a hike and henceforth ignore him in perpetuity but I'm glad I've fought that impulse and thus been able to take pleasure in occasional badinage with him. That's a cool thing, to find a way to connect with someone even for me a guy like Liam someone who I ultimately don't respect for so many reasons but I can still appreciate for other reasons.

People. Sometimes worth it.

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