Friday, June 20, 2008

Do I have a tattoo on my forehead that reads, “Feel free to ‘fess?”

One of my dear college buddies said to me the other day, “You know a lot of weird people—like mythological characters who I thought exist only in books or TV shows.” Sure, I indeed know a lot of people who might not necessarily fit the expected, societal stereotype of gentility. Whether they qualify for the outlandish category, is a matter of personal conviction. I sincerely believe in, “To each, his own.” I feel these so called “bizarre” people end monotony and add flavor and color to life. They own a ubiquitous zing of their own. Their style, voice, opinion, persona is unique if not contagious. They make for beguiling company and fascinating conversations.

What I do find baffling, is running into people out of nowhere on New York streets, and them opening up their Pandora’s Box to me—all too fervently. I can bet lots of you have been in that awkward position where “declaration of guilt or emotions,” by random people has made you awfully uncomfortable. Not responding can be misconstrued as being apathetic and impolite; and acknowledging it gives you discomfort and nightmares.

Listening to your friend vent or confide is one thing; hearing an acquaintance ramble about their personal life especially, is disconcerting, to say the least. I have heard about Freudian theories, breakups, makeup, romantic escapades to sordid tales of changed gender preferences. The last one had fumes coming out of my ears. My heart begged for mercy, but I was given cockamamie reasons for the “grand heart to heart.”

One evening, in my quest to digest the copious amounts of food I ate for lunch, I decided to do my let’s –walk- 30 –blocks- and -then -catch -the –subway-home-in-order-to- burn- those- darn- calories. As I was striding down New York streets, I had the fortune of running into a social contact. In less than eight minutes, this person revealed that their better half, in one of those “not-to-self” moments, realized that their life and preferences had been shrouded in mystery. So, believe it or not, this partner declared their changed preferences to my social contact: from heterosexual to homosexual. This acquaintance’s story was sadly but truly, like a Bollywood movie. The changed scenario led to my acquaintance being homeless for some time. Again, if it was a friend, without bat of an eyelid, I would have offered to host them at my apartment for sometime; with an acquaintance, I couldn’t expand my horizon of words to beyond, “I am sorry to hear that or I can’t believe he did that.” I genuinely felt sorry, but couldn’t determine my “what’s appropriate” boundary.

This other time, I almost choked on my meal when this borderline comrade revealed that she was gay. I am not homophobic or judgmental about someone’s personal life. In fact, I couldn’t care less. I was just startled by the messenger of the news, who assumed we were pals, and it was perfectly fine dining etiquette to divulge the information when they did. Response to that revelation was a Herculean task. I kept wondering, “Should I say good for you or you go girl” or just imperturbably pretend that it was the corn that had caused me discomfort?

I can’t help but scrutinize the occurrence of these incidents. I am beginning to wonder if there is a tattoo on my forehead, visible only to meshuga that reads, “I am a confession box, my child. Bear your heart to me.” Folks who know me can testify that I am a maladroit person when it comes to agony aunt tales. Why can’t acquaintances fight the urge to share superfluous stories with me? Maybe it’s an inchoate idea, but I wonder if I have a certain je ne sais quoi that encourages people to confess.

More until next time.

Copyright © 06.20.2008

“Why was I born with such contemporaries?” - Oscar Wilde

1 comment:

P said...

haaaaa. good one. they 'fess because you are trustworthy.