Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Guy In The Mirror

Miss Tessmacher and I spent an enjoyable evening with Ira Glass a few weeks ago, sitting in the second row at the Wharton Center while he basically ran a radio show from the stage. He's fantastically funny, and his "demonstration" about putting together an episode of This American Life was enlightening and, for a show ostensibly about radio, very entertaining to actually SEE. At one point Glass made a comment about being "the worst version of yourself," sort of like being at a party and catching yourself in a mirror, realizing: "Hey! That guy's being an ASS! Waitaminnit! That's ME being an ass! aaaaaiiEEEEEEEE!" The concept is funny because it rings so true: every once in awhile we exhibit the worst of our personalities, and catching a glance of ourselves being that "worst version" is so skin-crawlingly awful.

I'm certainly willing to own up to the fact that I can be more than a little obnoxious in my behaviour. In fact, I quite enjoy being "that guy" who can sometimes force the conversation to take an uncomfortable turn. What I HATE, though, is being naïve, and unfortunately I've been noticing that aspect of my personality to an uncomfortable degree lately. Rather than catching sight of myself in a mirror and thinking "Oh no, I'm an ass!" I find myself going "Oh no, I'm naïve!!" Which, somehow, is ultimately worse, because being naïve means being one thing I really hate: ignorant.

I don't post about work on this blog, mostly because I believe firmly in keeping "official" biz on my composer-centric website, and besides, for me, this just isn't the format. However, there have been two incidents at work this year which really called my naïve tendencies into sharp focus. The first was a pure case of ignorance...but, how imbecillic does THAT look, to have to claim "But I didn't know!" Shit. I HATE bein' "that guy!" The other incident was more along the lines of a simple misunderstanding and difference of opinion; still, part of my much-deserved scolding that resulted from this situation DID point out some rather naïve assumptions I'd made.

If I was going to give you a dime-store self-psychological explanation of my behaviour (and I am, right?), I'd say that some of my naïveté stems from the way I see MYSELF. Let's face it: I've rather kept myself (mentally, at least) in a sort of "suspended animation." In short, I LIKE the idea of "not growing up." Don't misunderstand: I'm not some sort of Lost Boy, eschewing the real world in favour of a NeverNever Land of my own devising. I'm a (mostly) functional father, a devoted spouse, I pay my bills and go to work get the idea. But, I keep my hair long, like I'm still gonna be a rock star someday. I buy, collect, and read comic books...many the same titles I've been reading since I'm 10. Ditto with music: Kiss is still the centerpiece of my musical buffet, and I'm often happiest when I'm listening to the same record I've heard over & over since 1977. In effect, I keep myself "young" in my mind, and combined with my oft-stated nostalgia, I wonder if this doesn't have some sort of subconscious effect on the way I think about life? You know, in the sense that I have some sort of view of the world as being harmless and open and full of wonder...the way a 10-year-old might think.

There's another part of me that sometimes feels like I can SEE myself as still being this young, and so thinking of myself that way excludes the reality of what other people see. To wit: when I was raked over the coals for the aforementioned misunderstanding, I caught a glimpse of myself in that mirror, only this time it wasn't just a sidelong glance: it was a full-on stare, and what I saw was...a 40-year-old man. Well, almost 40 anyway. But there it was: I (occasionally) act like I'm still a kid, and I LIKE having a youthful outlook on life...but there's that naïveté again, right? Other people must look at me and think "Geez Louise, you're a GROWN MAN for god's sake! Act like it! Take responsibility! GET A HAIRCUT!"

This post is starting to sound whiny and kvetchy, and I didn't intend it to be that way. This isn't some lame fishing tactic, whereby I solicit comments boosting my morale. I'm not "down" about this, per se. I just happened to have recently come face-to-face with a side of me that, I've now discovered, most other people probably see most of the time. Which, at the end of the day, makes me "that guy." Oh well. At least I'm not "that guy" who wears last year's Kiss t-shirt to THIS year's concert. NOBODY likes THAT guy!


Blogger Steph said...

I know exactly what you mean. I look in the mirror for too long and it's the Evil Judgmental Nasty MIss Snark Queen who eviscerates people because evisceration just rolls off the tongue so easily, and is constantly having an argument with someone or other in her head and getting all mad about stuff she frequently doesn't even understand all that well. The opposite, in a way, of seeing the world as "harmless and open and fill of wonder." (Your extreme ages better.) I guess we all have our shadows to work on.

I cannot possibly imagine you with anything but long hair. It looks good on you.

Is it just me, or have we thirtysomethings been writing a lot about omigod AGE ENCROACHES-type stuff lately? We all need to spend more time outdoors.

You guys suck for getting to see Ira Glass without me.

9:57 AM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

If you cut your hair, you are dead to me.


End of discussion.

7:56 AM  

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