Wednesday, March 25, 2015

old man, look at my life; I'm a lot like you were

Today I read that awesome Fran Lebovitz interview while I was out to lunch, and while I was waiting for the check I started laughing so hard I cried and I had to stop reading in order to avoid causing a public scene.  I like Lebovitz's spunk and brazen lack of tact, and would like to become an opinionated old lady myself, but also she's kind of a jerk, right?  How do you find that place on the spectrum that puts you at endearing curmudgeon and not toxic butthole?  An illustration:

Has Fran Lebowitz struck this balance?  I feel like she has, but it seems that there are members of the commentariat who disagree with me.  Some of them feel like she should shut up, which, maybe about some things, but think how much duller the world would be!  Maybe we should all speak our minds in such an uninhibited, kooky and prickly way.

So how do we do that?  I feel like I used to be more balls-out with my opinions, but as I have aged, dare I say matured, I have become much more vanilla.  Maybe because I'm more conscious of how my words affect others, maybe because I'm learning that I really don't know very much about anyone or anything, but maybe because I'm scared people will hate me.  But also I sort of want people to hate me?  Or at least fear me.  I worry that I might be a Death Eater at heart.  I have these two warring factions inside me; my desire to unabashedly own and voice my opinions, and my desire to mature and become more kind and accepting.  Which is stronger, my desire to be kind, or my desire to be cruel?  Hard to say.  I think I'm getting nicer, which I guess is progress.

A story to demonstrate:  There was a guy at Lee's Mongolian last night who was wearing baggy jeans with a mish-mash of a jacket that was denim in the same color wash as the jeans (thumbs down), leather sleeves, and a fleece hood.  I can't think of a time when I've seen that patchwork technique deployed effectively, and last night was no different.  The pants should have been tighter, because he was telegraphing rock n' roll with the top half (poorly executed) and normcore with the bottom half (nailed it).  His hair was all slicked back, and then I got a look at his face, and it was like the face of a very old, sunburned man took the hair and body and clothes of a much younger man out to dinner.  I wrinkled my nose in distaste and said to Grant, "Disapprove."  Grant said "I can tell you one thing--he looks like you don't want to piss him off," and I was like, "Pfft, he looks like he's all hat and no cattle."  But then I watched the guy talk to the server, and he was really nice, and then I saw him interact with his wife and children, and he seemed like a pretty decent guy.  I don't know what has brought him to the place where he wants to wear such dumb clothes, but there are worse things.  I felt bad for the mean things I had thought and said.  I don't know his life!  I don't know his story!  Shut it up, me!

I can do these exercises in relativism with almost anything and it has really taken the fun out of being judgmental.


Marsha said...

I resonate with the fun going out of being judgmental; as I age, I both strive not to judge and resolve not to relinquish the relish of judging, which is becoming a bit hard. But nobody said maturing (getting older, anyway) was easy, I guess.

tipsybaker said...

I'm judgmental, but lack all conviction. Can always think my way into the other person's head and it takes all the juice out of my judgments. VERY occasionally I meet someone and get to know them and realize they are truly, truly awful. I could count these people on one hand.