Saturday, April 14, 2007

Be Kind, Be Kind, And Be Kind

That's a quote from Henry James. Answering the question, "What three things are required from all mankind?"

Ah, the arc of the day.

I got up this morning and headed up to NYC. Today was our final softball practice before the season starts next Saturday. Lots of new guys on the team this year. And they all seem pretty solid. But they're good! They're damn good! I'm more than a little nervous that I'm gonna totally be the mutt of the team this year. Good thing I'm pretty, huh?

I got some coaching on throwing the ball today. (Guess what! Throwing a softball is different than throwing a bullwhip! It's true! Really!) And after the time I've been putting in at the batting cages, I think there was some improvement in my hittin' o' the ball. Six years playing softball, and one double. (Oh. And that was my first year.) However, my arm really hurt! In and around the elbow. A tendon kind of hurt. Still a little twingey, but mostly gone.

After practice, we headed back to Ty's. And to be sure, a good time was had by all. I spent hardly anytime at all looking wistfully across the street at Bruiser's place of employ. Yeah. Well. Whatever. Onward.

I planned to leave at 6 p.m., but I wanted to pick up a copy of the Sunday Times before I left. (I'm a sucker for the City Section, which doesn't show up in copies sold outside the five boroughs. I headed to my favorite new Starbucks at the corner of Hudson and 10th to pass an hour.

Time to head home.

To pass the time on the way home, I gave the Baron a call. And we had a great conversation. Talking about relationships.

Both of us hauled up mishaps from our past and disected them in minute detail. (For me and the Baron, that's Huge Fun. And that's why our friendship endures.)

I was recalling the disastrous Memorial Day Weekend I spent out in Los Angeles with Mr. Big Shot Hollywood Producer. (He knows Rita Moreno personally! Truth!) From the moment I got off the plane till the I headed on my way, I was treated the way he might deal with seagull shit landing on his Dolce & Gabana. Y'see, Mr. Big Shot Hollywood Producer is an asshole. (Although he is pretty good in the dungeon. I'll give him that.)

My recent reading of The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis sent to me by sebastian--if'n you haven't read it, do that pronto--gave me an insight. Y'see, it's a common misunderstanding that we can unleash whatever bad behavior we choose to on our nearest and dearest. After all, within the Family Circle, no need to hold back, right? Just relax and be your (boorish, bad-tempered, carping, whiny, complaining) self.


Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong!

The Baron offered that although he prized authenticity in human relations, he agreed that what he wanted behind closed doors at home was just a little tenderness and consideration.

I respectfully disagreed. Authenticity is exactly what I want. And if I'm in a relationship with someone, it would be my sincere hope that he has the same affection for me that I have for him. And not a blind to all my legion faults kind of affection. But a basic and fundamental "I like the guy." And that his behavior towards me would reflect that affection.

Always? All the time?

No. 'Course not. We're only human. But if I've done something to piss him off, I hope he'd come to me pronto and say, "Today we got a letter from the power company and they're planning on shutting off our electricity because you apparently forgot to pay the bill last month." Or "Holy hell I've had an awful day! That idiot I work for has gone way too far this time... But I'm suddenly feeling way insecure about my job and losing it would put our ability to pay the mortgage in jeopardy." And we talk that through, getting angry and even fighting or whatever. But in a direct and up front way. And when we drain the pus from that wound (eeeewwwww!), we can go back to being affectionate.

And that, brothers and sisters, is all I ask. Just be kind to me.

If I had that, there's nobody I wouldn't shack up with.

Me: Is that you, Sweetheart?

Dick Cheney: Yup. Home early.

Me: To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure? Did everything go alright today in your efforts to trample the Constitution, bankrupt the Treasury, and prop up that colossal failure of a President and the senseless war he dragged us into?

Dick Cheney: Yeah. It was fine. Just decided to get hear early. 'Cause I missed you. Been thinking about you all day.

Me: Awww... Really?

Dick Cheney: I sure have. I had my chief-of-staff call that place you like where they make homemade ice cream and whip up a batch of your favorite, mocha almond fudge. After dinner, I thought we might build a fire and settle in with a couple of bowls of ice cream.

Me: Omigosh... Dick... That sounds like a perfect evening to me. One thing though. Take off your shirt and tie and let me give you a backrub.

Dang, Boss! You're tense! What's this knot here?

Dick Cheney: That would be the Senate Judiciary Committee...

Me: That'll take some work. Whoa! What about this one?

Dick Cheney: Let's just call that Condoleeza.

Me: Gotcha. Y'know our neighbors' cat just had kittens in the garage. Maybe you want to unwind while I make dinner by chewing their legs and tails off? I know that relaxes you.

Dick: Nah. Not tonight. I'll keep that in mind though. Tonight I want to put all that aside and do what I can to make you feel good.

Me: Y'know, I'm the luckiest guy in the whole world...


Sebastian said...

While gay people have all sorts of issues with erotic love, I think culturally we are schizophrenic on affection. We do it really well, and we fuck it up royally.

Gay guys love to banter. With affectionate friends you can banter in rude and obnoxious ways and never really cross the line because you know each other so well that you know what hurts and you know what doesn't. And that is great fun!

But it seems to me that we also have more than our share of people who aren't close to anyone, but play the same game and end up going way past the line of what hurts, only to follow up with the "what is wrong with you, I was only joking" game. And for some reason we tolerate that more than many people. I'm not sure what that is about.

Drew said...

Interesting segment on This American Life yesterday about a guy who discovers that all his friends, and even his mother, pretty much think he's an asshole. And, confronted with the facts, has to admit that he is truly an asshole.

I've known a few assholes in my time, and I don't have much to do with them.

On my softball team, we rip into each other quite a bit. But it's done with finesse. First, you gotta like the guy, and be sure that he knows you like him. Second, there has to be an element of irony in what you're saying. (Our cheer for the guy who's now our manager is 'Fil! Thy! Whore! Fil! Thy! Whore!' and it works because he's neither filthy nor a whore.) And finally, it must leave outsiders (folks on other teams) appauled and horrified.

In short, banter can bring people closer together. It's a way of saying, "I see who you really are and I like what I see" by seeming to say the opposite.

But if those elements aren't in play, then the guy is just an asshole and we'll kick him off the team.