Friday, August 27, 2004

The Great Big IF

The inner life is a tricky dick. It’s that thing in people’s heads that colors everything they take in, how they receive and perceive and send out again. You can talk about it with someone, but you’ll never quite get it right, never see what they see or know what they know. Or at least not how they know it. For one, you can’t verbalize precisely what’s happening in your head so that someone else will understand; you’re not even intimately aware of everything that led up to what you are and why. Maybe you’re uncomfortable introducing your new girlfriend to your best friend, for example, because somewhere in time and space you’re still smarting from when your then-pal Jimmy Daniel stole Patty Mayfield from you in the third grade. Meanwhile, you’ll happily bring your ladyfriend around to see every stoner, drunk, nowhere acquaintance you’ve met in the meantime. Maybe, maybe not.

Second, every message you send out, and I mean every phone call, love note, back rub, or snippet of small talk you use to connect with another human being, every single instance of communication you send out, is being received and interpreted and colored by someone else who is just as influenced and screwed up by their own experiences as you are by yours. Maybe Patty Mayfield, to this day, gets a little tingle in her stomach when she meets her new boyfriend’s best friend, even though she doesn’t remember way.

So the first problem, that you don’t really know what you’re saying, is compounded by the second problem, that they don’t really know what to make of it. They fill in the gaps with your persona, what they’ve invented for you, to perceive you by. Maybe you’re the Reliable One in their lives, who they call when they need twenty bucks or don’t know how to get home; or the Drunk One, who calls them for those very reasons; or the Funny One, the Shady One, the Movie One, the Complaining One, the Horny One, the One One. Nobody gets to choose which One they are in someone else’s live, as hard as they might try to exude a Oneness of something.

(A readable result of my imaginary friends research is coming post-weekend, I promise.)

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