This started as a comment on Lee Ann’s blog post. But I got more long winded than usual AND realized I haven’t posted shit except some reference to the key to the universe (which, admittedly, I may have forgotten during the “make ’em sweat” stretch.)
Long time ago my brother in law, a man whose jovial disposition conceals almost completely (and almost certainly accidentally) the fact that he’s quite often the wisest man in the room made a pithy comment through a chuckle a long time ago: “Nobody wants the truth.”
At the time my reaction was, of course “pssh. Most people, no. But I DEFINITELY want the truth.” But I had a little moment of reflection and decided to not actually say that out loud because it sounded suspiciously like one of those things that, if said out loud, would cause an almost immediate and quite tragic case of Foot In Mouth disease. And frankly I’m not sure I could stomach any foot on top of all the damn crow.
The way I got it figgered is this: People who say shit like “Oh I always want to know the truth.” Are those LEAST able to handle it. People say that because they’re damn near positive they already know exactly what “the truth” is and they are nearly desperate for external confirmation of something they’re not particularly confident about.
I heard a clip from one of those insipid morning radio shows a few years ago. I’d go find it, but….I don’t wanna. Anyway this was a ‘prank call’ type show (just…the worst) where they would try to catch people cheating on their significant others (the others’ being the ones who called in) by calling them and telling them they won some contest for a free bouquet of roses, all they needed to know was where to send them. Come to think of it this was almost certainly a valentine’s day “prank.”
Anyway it went SOMEthing like this:
“Hi I’m Jenny Sucker from Walawala Washington. My boyfriend would NEVER cheat on me *10 minutes of mindless fucking detail*.”
“Let’s call him.”
“Hi Jim Scumbag? This is Turd Burgler from K-SCUM. You’ve won a dozen roses in our Valentine’s day ‘low hanging fruit’ contest. Where should we send them?”
“Really? That’s great. Oh, to my wife.”
“Hi Jim. We also have Jenny Sucker on the line?”
“You son of a bitch.”
“Your WIFE!?! You’re bleeping MARRIED!”
“Aaand we’ll let those two work it out.”
Now look. Every. Single. Person. in this little yarn is either evil or stupid.
But why did Jenny Sucker call? Why would she call if she KNEW *cough* he was just a run of the mill normal monogamous boyfriend? She wouldn’t. She knew full well that he at least HAD “another woman” while she may not have known she WAS the other woman.
There’s NO other reason. She’s a perfect example of the “Oh I always want to know the truth” type.
So this is what’s out there. Generally people are either the type to pretend to invite the truth, or the type to be able to handle it. Turns out there’s remarkably little overlap (Disclaimer: Anecdotal horseshit.)
So what’s a cantankerous seeming curmudgeon with remarkably little concern for other people’s bullshit supposed to do?
Truth be told, that class of people to which I proudly belong, doesn’t actually “not care about anyone’s feelings” but in fact doesn’t care about other people’s melodrama.
There isn’t really anyone out there who doesn’t censor every single thing they say. Play or write to your audience. You’ve got to. We only communicate to plant an idea in someone’s head after all. So if you really didn’t give the slightest crap about what people thought or felt, it wouldn’t be worth the energy to say a damn thing at all.
For my part, I play it like this:
There are 4 levels of truth (as far as people’s emotions are concerned. This scale has nothing to do with objective reality.)
- Truth people want to hear at the most superficial level. Telling hot girls they’re hot.
- The ‘interesting truths’ that wipe away at the dust of preconceptions, still pretty well couched. Telling unconventionally hot girls they’re hot.
- The ‘really uncomfortable’ and generally pretty impolite truths. “Those jeans make your ass look huge.” “I’m sorry. But you’re actually a moron.” “No, I’ve always hated it when you put apple sauce in your fucking pancakes.” (just…don’t ask.)
- The. Fucking. Truth. These are the things you know, really really know, about someone. The things they think they’ve kept hidden, perhaps even from themselves. These are those one liners that will ice a motherfucker’s soul. You can’t say this. You…you just can’t do it.
So what about us people? Those of us who know that trying to make people happy all the time is the route to ruin? Well, You’ve got to stay at Level 2 and, when someone presses you for “the REAL no-punches pulled” truth, you crank it up a tick. But that’s it. Do that on occasion and you’ll already be “that guy with no filter.” That’s what that means to them. It means “that person who’s not always blowing sunshine up my ass.” It doesn’t mean “that guy with no filter.” Because the proletariat has No CONCEPT what that means. Not really. They lack the overt self-awareness and metacognition. They’re too afraid to explore themselves. No, they’re not stupid. They’re just afraid of their own pain. But that’s a whole other thing.
I’ll close with an example.
In the early 90s I shared a house with 4 other guys. I was in my early 20s (as were most of us) and it was a complete fucking shit show. BUT we were friends and it was mostly good. It was just disgusting, especially since at least 3 of us had hair beyond our shoulders.
One of our roommates was in his mid 30s. We’ll call him Jeff…because his name is Jeff and frankly…fuck Jeff.
Jeff was a guitar player. He was really good. Frankly, since I’m not a guitar player I have no idea HOW good. BUT my guitar playing girlfriend (who I thought was excellent) was starry-eyed at his skill (but overall, knew what a chucklehead he was. I wasn’t “worried”, no matter how much he was gunning for her.)
Jeff was an asshole and narcissist of the highest order. At a renaissance festival he’d say shit like “you know, I’ll bet there’s no one here who’s ass I can’t kick.” (direct quote.)
Me and Rob were playing chess (we sucked, but it was fun) and I had this album playing. It’s really excellent. I’d never heard of Bonamassa back then. But time sure bore out my love of his stuff.
Jeff comes in behind me and, listening to the music starts commenting on how basic it is and why the band was never going to make it big.
I was shaking, trying to move my chess pieces. Rob looked at me wide-eyed, realizing more or less what was about to happen.
“Yeah. Hear that lick? That’s right out of <some classic rock tune>.”
You could hear the little ping in my head.
I stood up, turned around and, frothing at the mouth with my vision blurred from the shaking, shouted “That 17 year old kid plays with more soul in a single note than I’ve EVER heard come out of your guitar!”
He didn’t say a thing. He just stared at me as the smell of brimstone wafted throughout the room. He turned and walked into his room and closed the door.
We literally. LITERALLY did not see him for 3 days.
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, THAT was the fucking TRUTH.
Now, I’d like to say I turned around, sat down, moved a chess piece and said “checkmate.”
But that’d be a lie.