Saturday, June 16, 2007

An Insult And Compliment



Recently, someone called me an eloquent self-absorbed whiner. Of course, I don't know who this person is because he or she didn't give an identity, the wonders of the anonymous comment function on my blog, something I am loathe to give up given that most anonymous comments are kind or interesting. I don't mind this one because although I have been called self-absorbed and most certainly consider myself a whiner at times (who can take any of her complaints seriously in a world where the dead and wounded are coming home from war at an astounding, horrible rate?), I have never been called eloquent. Charming, sometimes, funny, every now and again, but eloquent?! Never! It's not in my nature. I'm too clumsy and high-strung for anything resembling elegance or eloquence to come my way. I can barely dress myself without some huge mistake, can't speak without stumbling over my words, and would prefer to hide at home than face the slings and arrows of something as prosaic as grocery shopping. I consider some of this genetic -- take my dad, the nicest man in the world, but a little clumsy at times. Once he was driving along with my friend Hank and pointed out a big plane. Hank said that he couldn't see it. Hank, my dad said, slapping him on the back, you must be blind as a bat! Hank, I might point out, was legally blind and starting laughing hysterically. The only time Hank saw something in the car was when I nearly backed into someone. Even I saw that one, Michelle, he said. Not really shaken by much, he was the perfect passenger for someone with my truly vile driving skills.


Erica Jong writes that as people we get a thousand love letters or compliments and remember the few horrible notes from crazy people about how terrible we are. There's a lot of truth to this statement. In her book, Seducing the Demon, she talks about having a one night stand with Martha Stewart's husband and getting maligned for this act for years. During the one night stand, the husband talked incessantly about Martha and what she made him do, all the chores and the misery. This is what a lot of adultery is like I imagine, the kind of thing where the other person looms so large that he or she might as well be in the room. Erica did not have much fun during or after, when she was cast into the role of evil other woman. It's a role I'm sure she'd been cast in before with or without cause, an insult and compliment all rolled together. She got screwed twice, but in the end, she wrote about that awful night at the Frankfurt Book Fair and got the last say. Eloquence can give a person the final word, I think, even for the self-absorbed, maybe especially for us.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won't get much sleep." Woody Allen

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: How To Save Your Own Life Erica Jong

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

19 comments:

Rodney Dangerfield said...

For some reason I feel tongue-tied when I look at that photo, Michelle, if you know what I mean.

Ace Freely said...

So do I.

Kugelmass said...

Even though the Scarlett Johansson character gets screwed in Woody Allen's "Matchpoint," it was a great role for her.

Gene Simmons said...

Tongues?

The Holy Spirit said...

I speak in tonques of fire.

Groucho Marx said...

I'll first examine her with my tongue depresser.

Dorothy said...

You wouldn't do that would you, Mr. Groucho?

Groucho Marx said...

Come behind the curtain, my dear little girl.

MGM said...

Brought to you in Color by DeLuxe!

Charles Gramlich said...

It's true that we tend to remember the negatives that people say to us far more than the many positives. I think it's the nature of all humans to be a little insecure, maybe.

As for the other, I never find a "whining" tone in your writing, simply a statement of how things appear to you. It is the reader who supplies the tone.

Cheri said...

Isn't it like that with everything? The bad stays with you longer than the good. I've been called many things. There is a girl who hates me more than I've ever been hated by anyone, and I think that I've commented on this in your journal before, but I really need to make an entire post about her. And the reason for her hatred and my overall attitude of not giving a fuck about her.


Being called an eloquent-whiner is an insult that really passes as a veiled compliment. Regardless of being a whiner in this person's opinion, using such a word to describe you obviously holds you in some sort of high regards to which I can only describe as admiration. And these little anonymous comments, be most smart ass and redundent in their stupidity, add something to your blog that is unique to you only. Obsession is impressive to such an extent, for I don't know any individual who has this sort of time to waste, continually, day after day, post after post, with comment after comment like some sort of overly dedicated fan-club president.

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eric313 said...

Very well written post, m. Very strong and beautiful. I think I agree with yesterday's quote--which works so well with this, that its better to be hated than loved for false reasons. And what is elegance but walking through the fire with as much grace as your every word carries, from the first through the last?

I love the Hank story, since I've always had some vision problems, and can relate to not seeing what's obvious to most who are around you, and then having to laugh with it, since those with sight may remember but never really know what its like.

And your last line is brilliant.

Still trying to figure it all out,
E

eric313 said...

Sorry that I spoke too soon, you know?

the walking man said...

Funny in a way because after years of teasing and being a completely righteous ass I only remember one negative thing that was ever said to me and it was by my father.

I know he said many negatives to me but one in particular always sticks with me and believe it or not it didn't have a "goddamn" or a "fuck" attached to it. And he was not the sweetest of men so I am sure there were many more.

But when necessary I can be the most eloquent goddamn speaker in my fucking world. My father with his 170 IQ DNA and reading a dictionary for shits and giggles ensured that.

As for the last laugh, well pops, even though you're dead 25 years this month you can stop turning over in whatever grave or ash repository they put you in because I became a poet and writer of words anyway. They tell me you were the best chemical engineer of your day.I can't make that claim as far as writing goes, just that I do it, though is enough.

I still don't understand nor give a good goddamn about algebra so even though that and my writing made you crazy as a shit house rat, at least you made your comment to my 12 year old face. Rest in peace you old fucker.

Susan Miller said...

I admire your ability of putting yourself out here everyday, allowing anyone to comment under any name and continuing to find subjects that seem to connect us all in one way or another. Sometimes comments can feed an insecurity and more times than not we hang onto that one moment out of a million which confirmed a doubt. The beauty and irony of it all is that people, unnamed or not, will always see things as they are....not as you are. We're all fucking self absorbed, that person was just feeling bad about it that day.

And for the record, you are eloquent.

R2K said...

: )

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've been called worse things. As for dads, my dad always thought that if you spoke louder and slower to a non-English speaking person, they'd understand you.

Anonymous said...

I have this friend. Everytime she talks to me, it is about her and her scars, although usually she is not direct. She talks about others, but always in a way that in some way or another is really about herself.

Being called an eloquent whiner is neither an insult nor a compliment. Its a challenge.

- Anonymous