I am having a conversation with my friend, Pat. We are talking about the way we talk when we have a chance to spend some time, or the way our emails seem to go.
“I tire of being asked what I think about something only to have the conversation derailed at the first ‘bump’ in my logic, at the first self-contradiction,” Pat says, of life in general.
My response: “I savor your contradictions. It’s my desire to explore them with you and to experience the change that happens when you wrestle with them.”
“Yes, I think you get it. How refreshing.”
As you can see, Pat and I have a deeply meaningful relationship. Enviable, in fact. It is based on not knowing things that we want to know, and how to fix that. There is also an element of bringing unformed or poorly formed thoughts to the table, cutting them up like a fruit salad, and enjoying them. Our conversations are like a cold fruit salad on a dusty hot summer day. Yes, very, very refreshing.
But not everybody has the opportunity to interact that way. This is because all utterances are questionable, if you want them to be. All communications are subject to measurement against a standard that one can easily justify as “Teh Standard,” even though one has merely pulled it out of one orifice or another. In fact, there is a place where that kind of communication is favored, revered, honed and practiced, and imposed by force of will and repetition on those who do not come to the table oppositional in affect and armed with snark.
That place is known … as the blogosphere.
But, dear reader, that is a feature of the blogosphere that I generally don’t like, even though it can be amusing, it can be productive, and it can bring lots of page views to my hit-counter. I don’t like it even though I am as capable as the next person of doing damage with printed word, baiting the most wary of trolls, and turning and churning the most innocent of conversation until it becomes vile like ogre piss. I don’t like it because I find it inhumane. I find it not the way I want to interact, not the way I want to understand. It is bitter roots and rotten offal. It is not a refreshing fruit salad on a dusty, hot, summer day.
I want to understand you. I don’t want you to say things to me in a way that I am brought to the edge of understanding and left to wait there, as though it was my job to figure out what you meant. I want you to just tell me what you meant.
I want you to understand me. I don’t want you to find meaning that I did not intend and then use that unintended meaning to abuse either yourself or me.
I don’t want you to misunderstand me, willfully or otherwise, and then fetishize the false or manufactured meaning of that misunderstanding like it was some sort of trophy. Your misunderstanding of my words is not your shrunken head.
But it goes beyond that. I don’t want you to be thinking the same thing today that you were thinking last month. I want there to be a conflict between what you thought about some thing the first time we talked about it and what you think about it now. I want to be your Red Queen, so we can keep moving yet luxuriate under the same forbidden tree. I want you to giggle when I mix my metaphors until the cows turn blue.
I want to hear the full version of the story behind the allusion.
Expect me to contradict myself. Sometimes what I say now will contradict what I said when we first met. Sometimes the end of my sentence will contradict the beginning of my sentence. Be an interesting grownup. Be an interested grownup. Be a grownup. Don’t be a winged monkey. Don’t make it your business to jump on my wrongness and howl like some four-winged, maned, scale-covered, drooling mythical creature from a Piers Anthony book.
My wrongness is a comfortable table for two at a coffee shop. Your wrongness is a long, lonely drive on a nice day.
Picture of salad by flickr user esimpriam
3 thoughts on “Our Conversations Should Be Like a Cold Fruit Salad on a Dusty, Hot, Summer Day”
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
– Walt Whitman
“Your wrongness is a long, lonely drive on a nice day.”
My hobby is weekly long, lonely drives, regardless of weather (but I find the drive does more to make it a nice day than local conditions of temperature and humidity). This little quote is going to stick in my head for the next time (in about 5 days) I’m out exploring.
Perhaps in a week or two I’ll know what it means.
I am probably wrong. So you just go and think about what I need to say to be right for the entire drive!