Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Faults Of Other People

My friend Hank once wrote an essay titled "The Faults Of Other People" about being forced to endure an academic diversity workshop where all parties were supposed to reveal their hidden stereotypes about race, sex, disability, and so on. Despite reassurances that none of what they said would be held against them or ever revealed, much like an AA meeting, nobody would say much of anything out of fear. Nobody ever admitted to telling a racist joke or not stopping someone from telling one, nobody admitted to their own upbringings or sins that had been committed against them. And let's face it, lack of honesty is always a phenomenal bore. But I've never been a fan of people who classify themselves as "honest" because in my limited experience, it sometimes serves as code for an asshole who uses the truth to bludgeon other people when it suits them.

So herein lies the dilemma when discussing our own faults and of course, a favorite and infinitely more pleasurable subject, the faults of other people. Today would have been Hank's 39th birthday had he lived. What would he have said about being on the verge of forty? To me, he will always be young in that deeply precocious way, the way some people are when they have borne up under a heavy burden. Of course, in the workshop, he was forced to write about his blindness and what people thought about it. All the stereotypes swirled -- the good ones about it giving you supernatural insight or musical talent (according to Hank, one trip to a blind camp talent show will disabuse you of this notion) and the way the word blind is used in our language as a negative, when someone is doing something misguided or stupid. But as Hank would say, no matter what our actual sight, we see what we want to see until the truth, whatever version that we cannot deny, strikes us.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don't worry...I'm here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you." -Charlie Brown to Snoopy

Cocktail Hour
Drinking short story collection suggestion: Delicate Edible Birds Lauren Groff

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! Happy birthday to my dear Stacey!


Dave said...

Today would have been Hank's 39th birthday had he lived. What would he have said about being on the verge of forty?

Speaking as a person who is turning 50 in two months, I suspect that Hank would have said something like "thank God I can't see the age lines, the crome dome and the man-boobs!"

Charles Gramlich said...

One of the biggest assholes I know constantly refers to himself as an "honest" person. It's clear, in fact, that he's a bully.

Scott said...


Honesty is like a have to know when it's right to use it.

Hope you're having a good week...take care!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Hey Michelle, Can I retitle it: The Faults of Management?

Where I work, honesty will get you fired. Whenever there's an investigation I'll say, "If my answers to your questions will negatively impact my job, then I'm requesting union representation."

Honesty, or trying to help out, in a prison environment, is considered a sign of weakness. It'll get you in a heap of trouble. Sad, but true.

the walking man said...

This fits in nicely Michelle.

The more I read of Hank, the more I would have relished the chance to argue with him. Argue over nothing of any great consequence but just to see if we could rile each other for shits and grins.

I wonder if he would have recognized the differences between truth and honesty. How one can be absolute and utter bullshit and the other can be the sun which dries out that bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Stacey!!!--Paul Mitchell

Carlos said...

RIP beautiful and gifted Natasha Richardson.

Anonymous said...

Don't drink and ski.--Sonny B.

Lana Gramlich said...

It's funny, too, how some people think they know themselves so well (but as seen by those of us on the outside, they couldn't be more wrong.)