So... how the heck are you all doin'?
Here at Chez Merde, I've had quite the week. There's nothing like a little uncertainty in the workplace and long-distance alienation to kick off springtime in DC. (Yeah, I know it's been spring for a few weeks already, but the good weather - and the cherry blossoms - really only revved up recently.) I've been engaging in manic spring cleaning in my office. I'd like to call it Zen Reorganization, but in these unsteady economic times, I also think of it as Advanced Planning. You know, just in case I'm in the path of a large, unwavering economic tidal wave. It's not just me, though. I see this clutterbusting behavior going on all over. It's a way of turning fear into something productive, I guess. All I know is, by this time next week, you'll probably be able to eat off my office floor. (Well, not really. Carpeting and all that.) And if I get laid off, I will be able to sweep all my stuff into one box and slink away.
Hopefully, that won't happen. I light candles. I think good thoughts. I work hard. And I work harder. And I pray for people who have lost everything in this economy - jobs, homes, health, lives - and I thank my lucky stars I'm not there yet. And, fingers, toes, and the good eye crossed, I won't go there. Friends, I hope the same for all of you, too. I know the job-sucking monster has already hurt some of my friends out here. I think about you often and send out good vibes that your unemployment will be a short experience. Very, very short.
Speaking of very, very short... I have the tale of a seriously curtailed reacquaintance for you. I recently reconnected with a high school friend via Facebook. We really haven't spoken since 1985-ish, I would think. He pinged me on FB, I accepted his friending invite, and we spoke on the phone once, a bit awkwardly. He very kindly helped one of my sisters with a graphic design project for the hospital where she works, which I thought was way above and beyond the call of duty for someone I hadn't been in touch with in any significant way for decades. I expressed my tremendous gratitude, and then we fell (briefly) into that Facebook limbo land where you see notes from folks, nod, say nothing, and more onto the next note.
However, during this week's tea party nonsense, he posted something to Facebook about the whole bruhaha. (Or, har har har, should that be brew-haha? Oh, I am such the card, no?) What he wrote was short & on the serious side, but, as most of you know, I can't pass up an opportunity to be crass or goofy when it presents itself. To his serious note, I added a comment to the effect of "It's all about the teabagging, Friend X. It's all about the teabagging. (And there are a lot of people out there today who really should become acquainted with the Urban Dictionary...)"
Silly comment, sure, but who can't get a good giggle out of the misuse of the term teabagging?
Yikes, kids. Yikes.
I got an answer to that query: this gent, apparently, finds it remarkably giggleproof.
Almost immediately after I posted my bit of goofiness, he got pissed. Really pissed. Pissed enough to declare my comment "irrelevant, flippant... and highly insulting." And, so pissed, that he immediately deleted me from his Facebook friends.
Now, lord knows, I can be a jackass. A big, braying jackass. I can also be very hard at times, which is a function of self-preservation, honestly. Many times, I'm my only defender, and I have to make tough choices to take care of myself as best I can. But humor? That I use to disarm or charm or bring people around to my point of view.
Or, simply, to get a good belly laugh out of life.
In this case, giggling over the use of the term "teabagging" was just that. A giggle. I mean, there were even plenty of Republicans and Libertarians across the country that really wished people hadn't used that term. It did their cause a disservice. I - having the sense of humor of a 13-year-old on the best of days - could not help but laugh.
But not everyone has a bawdy sense of humor. Sure, I get that. And some folks get offended much easier than others by crude humor. I'm pretty sure I've told the following story out here before, but it speaks so well to the situation, you get it again. I recall a phonecall from my oldest sister (who disowned me at the start of this year, after our sister's funeral) a few years ago where she described in great detail the Beatrix Potter-themed baby nursery she was decorating for the coming birth of a grandchild. I was somewhat distracted during the call - I remember it was at an astoundingly inconvenient time. I believe I was cleaning the kitchen floor (the oft-mouse-afflicted kitchen floor) with ammonia, and I just wanted to be done and no longer sniffing the fumes.
As my sister waxed on and on about a room festooned with fuzzy bunnies and ducks, she mentioned that she'd found a treasure trove of bits to complete her work. Apparently, Walmart had a discount crafts bin full of wooden Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit items, ready to be painted in happy pastels and tacked to a wall. My sister raved about the "12-inch Peter" she'd found for a dollar and how should could "do the project alone", and I could not help myself. I really couldn't.
"Wow. You know, there are women everywhere who would be thrilled to find a 12-inch peter for a buck. I know a lot of ladies would love to 'do the project alone.'"
There was a very, very long silence at the other end of the phone. And then, finally, this: "You know, Merujo, I don't think that's very funny."
Shame, really. I thought it was hilarious!
Then again, I've always been a groundling. I'm not much of an intellectual. I don't have the outstanding educations that most of my friends have. I don't read Great Books for entertainment. But I love to laugh.
And so, here I was this week, with my childish humor crushing a tenuous old friendship. Last time this happened, it was my supposed lack of communication that killed the beast. But no, this time, it was my use of humor to communicate that stuck a fork deep into a Facebook friendship.
I had to laugh. I mean, it was a little shocking that a goof on teabagging - teabagging, people! - would cause someone to strip me from that modern day badge of honor, the Facebook friend list. My nephew, Jersey Cop, suggested that there should be a someecards greeting appropriate for occasions like this. Well, through the wonders of user-generated cards and ten seconds of my time, there is now:
I didn't send him this card, but I did write him an e-mail. I expressed surprise over his reaction and did tell him to lighten up. In his opinion, I was outrageous and offensive. In my opinion, I was just being funny. And being funny doesn't mean you're being disrespectful to Politically-Focused (or Politically Rabid) Americans or the Great Sweeping Concepts That Engage Their Minds. If we can't find something to laugh at in the giant tepid cup of Lemon Zinger that's been brewing for the past eight years, we're all gonna need therapy/an enema/a bullet to the temple.
The Constitution grants peeps here freedom of speech (well, actually it says Congress can't abridge free expression, but you get my meaning.) And that means there are a helluva lot of people in the United States mouthing off - for good, for bad, for whatever - all at the same time. But free speech makes such a lovely cacophony. Doesn't mean you have to like it all. Doesn't mean you have to listen. But you have to respect the rights of others to say their piece. (Recently, I stopped following a handful of friends on Twitter with whom I have major, fundamental political differences. They have their right to speak freely. I have my right to walk away.) Speaking your mind doesn't harm the Constitution, it reaffirms it.
Even humor reaffirms it.
So, lighten up folks. Have some herbal tea. Might I recommend two bags? Nothing like the robust flavor of a good pair.
(I'm SO going to Hell.)