November 19, 2010

Mistakes Were Made (part two)


[In addition to all of our awesome visible and identifying columnists, we also have some awesome anonymous columnists that for one reason or another must use a pseudonym (and pseudopic?). Details on anonymous columnists here.]

Dr. Seuss supposedly said this, and—general consensus being Dr. Seuss is a cool guy, rad art—it’s typically my M.O. regarding openness with strangers, since friendship is definitely a no-go if you can’t deal with it—wholly your cross to bear in that case. I’m not trying to be contentious per se, though it’d be disingenuous to pretend that I don’t get a small thrill from these confessionals. It’s a primary reason I enjoy writing here.

The Seuss aphorism like all aphorisms has exceptions, and I’m unfortunately related to them. So, I introduced my present parental crisis (here) in a fit of frenzy—e.g., taking a 90-degree turn across two lanes into a library parking lot so that I might use their computers to write. (I was so shaken that when the Republican-looking man in the lifted truck that followed me into the parking lot to admonish me for having cut him off, I just kind of whimpered and ran off into the lobby.)

Since July 14 I’ve thought about how I might chronicle this particular drama best; it’s self-therapy more than anything else, and Ken Rogerson, PhD/BFF, once told me that words might have control of me rather than vice versa, and that maybe this could be beautiful and cathartic. I hope so: just trying to conquer rhetorical demons here, and shape my reality around that success.

But so the aftermath of July 14: yes I was kicked out of the house, via “We need some time to consider how we feel about you.” Probably a wise move, the distance, and all-in-all my eight total days in exile were amazingly well-spent, staying with friend after friend—even needlessly moving, to exploit the diversity—speaking frankly with parents-of-friends, and generally being moved by kindness and my good fortune in a way that makes me well up nasolacrimally if I really think about it.

I went first to the home of my former girlfriend and current best friend—interesting only in that we broke up the prior summer due to my falling in love her male friend who was into both of us. My handling and subsequent discussion of the situation was totally callous and uncool, inconsiderate of the discretion it deserved. Yeah so I fucked that one up majorly and she still retains the ability to offer me more genuine kindness in a single phone call than I’ve probably mustered up in my entire life. As I said before, I’m not The Nicest (;)), not characteristically. She also had a distinct understandability advantage, being one of my few friends who has debated my mother on things religious and ideological without exiting in tears.

She dropped me off at home after day eight to either A) see if the coast was clear and leave a note and get more exile supplies, search for my computer, raid the liquor cabinet, etc or B) send me into the most frightening conversation of my life, if they happened to be home, and potentially offer me a getaway vehicle.

Scenario B did not transform into a story of love's transcendent power to render everything else subordinate, and my religious conservative parents were not bowled over with empathy by my emotive story-telling abilities and demonstration of prodigious friendship. In fact, it was painfully pragmatic. Like:

“The worst of all is that you don’t seem to care what God thinks.”

"…"

You’re right I don’t. FUCK! Did not see this topic surfacing. I never came out to my parents, I was outed. Thus, I did not know what it was to exit the metaphysical closet until that moment when, sitting in front of untouched smoked salmon, I had to confess my unbelief. Throughout high school, I acquiesced to church. I still do. I go, and I enjoy the iced tea they serve in the foyer afterward, and I like the SOP of going out to lunch with friends-of-parents after services and being peppered with questions about college and traveling the world and showing how like, smart and personable I am, in a way that just maybe tempers the version of me they hear about in prayer groups, where my name is brought up in narratives concerning getting caught having sex (with girls, formerly) or smoking pot or something. Yeah so, nope. No bitterness present whatsoever. My feelings toward religion, and fundamental Christianity—an unusual situation that I accidentally walked into myself, rather than being raised in—are for another time.

“But I just can't believe how totally immoral—”

“—I don’t care about morals!"

"…"

"…well I mean, I only care about ethics."

This is something I do believe, something important to me. Morals are the stuff of convention and inevitably have a social element that is too relative and fickle and ungrounded on any solid principle so just no, no thank you, I am proudly amoral. Ethics, better. I try to be ethical, to not cheat/steal/lie. It’s not complicated, or philosophical even. I’m really just trying to be a good person. Not sure where drinking or smoking or sex fits into that equation, but I'm almost positive it doesn't.

And then cue some argument about my trying to intellectualize my way out of answering real questions, and deigning to condescension in the meantime and this is the part where I tend to get a bit weepy inside and try to telekinetically crush my internal organs because I know that it’s true and I know I internally resent that my parents are uninterested in literature and art and philosophy and music, and I know that the way this manifests is that I am sometimes just downright mean to them. Doesn’t fit so well in my plan of being a good person.

My father at one point during the Talk remarked that revoking DADT was unethical, and that gay couples should not be able to adopt. I lamely refuted both charges—apparently proof that I’m "buying into their agenda" and that secular college was just maybe not so good an idea after all, should've taken the full-ride to TCU—but by this point all the fight in me was gone and I was just enduring. Sort of the pitiful awkward and strangely physical feeling one gets sitting in a small discussion class stoned while the teacher persistently continues to fail at inciting discussion. Anyhow, the political issues seemed immaterial in my current state, and I was less interested in gay agendizing (?) than whether or not I'd be allowed to sleep at home that night—ultimately, it would be one of the few I did spend at home all summer.

tbc

Eric Fürst

2 comments:

  1. I just have to say I love the way you write, it's quite powerful. I'm also glad you finally posted this, your anecdote seems to be a prefiguration of how it will be with my conservative, religious parents. Your description of church and after church lunches sounds so similar to my past years, except I was actually forced to attend (which transpired to me hiding out in starbucks instead of going until i was "caught"). I am interested, though, in your lack of bitterness toward Christianity; it is the reason I am so oppressed in this household formerly called home. Your elucidation of morals & ethics is still a bit perplexing to me. I feel morals are used on an individual basis and ethics represent how society excepts one to act/be. So I am not sure I completely understand your identification with amorality, but perhaps it are my ideas that are rudimentary. On a final note, I quite enjoyed your comparison to sitting in a small discussion class stoned, really thats funny stuff. Anyways, I'd love to hear how things are going and discuss this further, so hit me up on fb when you have a chance.

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  2. For me: ethics=principle-based guidelines to being "good," and though by no means objective (whatever that means), much better than morals, which=social standards of behavior whose underlying justifications are less about good v. bad than some sort of stake in a vested social interest or value. Ergo, they are not very individualistic—I am.

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