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Friday, December 30, 2011

I KNOW SOMEBODY WENT TO HARVARD

       jaap mooy, dutch, 1915-1987



What a day it has been. First thing, I go to lunch with a friend of 30+ years. Today was not the day for us to get together. He's my contrarian friend who is knee-jerk compelled to contradict whatever I or anyone else has said. I've seen this for so long, I'm used to it. I just give over to being disrespected regularly. I don't care. I prefer to stick with a friend through interpersonal differences. The major difference between friend and self is he takes his opinions very seriously, as fact. I don't take opinions seriously at all. I have them and express them, but don't believe them necessarily. I think of opinion as a belief about something that is based on little to no information. With plenty of information, it's not an opinion. Opinions are open to be right or wrong or neither. One day a year or so ago, I'd forgotten about his passion for his own opinions; he interrupted me, stating some opinion in reference to something we were talking about that didn't even pertain. I said, "That has nothing to do with anything." Whoa. Same thing happened today.



In our conversation over the table he'd already disrespected me half a dozen times. I pay it no mind, just consider the source, knowing how seriously he values his opinions. Today we were doing well. I let moments of disrespect go by several times. Like I mentioned my friends coming up from Atlanta today with their daughter and her husband. I mentioned both had recently received their PhDs from Berkeley. That elicited a snort. I said, "I'm impressed. I couldn't even get into Berkeley." Harumph: "I know somebody went to Harvard." I sat and thought: Aw shit, let it rest. It's a knee-jerk thing that he has to keep me reminded he knows more than I do, is more informed than I am, is superior in every way and every department. And I say, Ok, hooray, you're superior. You can piss higher than I can. I'm fine with that. Now that we know our places, can't we get on with our conversation? I have to confess I get tired of the reminders. He has a master's degree in science, just like Dr Science of the Duck's Breath Mystery Theater.



In the early years of knowing him, it drove me crazy sometimes. I'd get with myself in a serious way and tell myself to stay away from him, all he does is aggravate me with the ongoing brow beating that he knows more than I do, has better judgment than I have, has more interesting experience than I have. Hooray. I really am fine with it. I live in a world of people I believe superior to me in every way. I'm ok with it. I'm used to it. I like smart people. So we're sitting at the table and I've held my peace for an hour and a half or so. We were doing well. Then I said something about something I found on the internet. Harumph: "I know everything that's on the internet." That one broke the camel's back. I said, "You do not know everything that's on the internet." Phew. That one blew the volcano's stack. "I never said I knew everything about the internet." I held my ground. "Yes you did. Those were your words." "I didn't say that." Whatever. Within five minutes we'd paid and were out the door. I'd dissed him. Feces occurs.



Earlier the contrarian came up when he pushed me about painting abstraction instead of realism. I told him AGAIN that I paint for the people of the world I live in. I live in Alleghany County. I paint for the people of Alleghany County. Their aesthetic is recognizable realism, so that's how I paint. I don't live in New York, London or Paris. I live in Alleghany. I get reminded of past lectures on I should be painting for myself. I had to stress that I do not have room in my house. He writes for himself. Earlier he'd asked me about the process of starting a blog. I brought that up and suggested he not put his writing to himself in a blog, because then someone else might see it. I suggested if he wants to write for himself, write it all in a notebook and when it's full, throw it in the fire and start a new one. It's the only way you can be sure no one else will see it. Several times in the past I've got with myself about talking openly with him. But I tell myself if I'm going to be like that, stay away from him. Since I don't care to shit-can friends, I continue to go back for more. It's not hateful. Nor is it hurtful. Nor is it demeaning or rough on self esteem. It just is what it is. Two people in this world that know each other.


I'd missed my morning coffee, and the coffee ordered at the restaurant was awful. And it was luke warm. It was disgusting. I understood suddenly why we have coffee shops now. Restaurants can't make coffee anymore. If they ever could. I find restaurant coffee especially bitter for the most part, and when I drink some in a restaurant it's because I want coffee so bad I don't care how terrible it is. In a restaurant the first time, I usually order spaghetti, because most restaurants are incapable of screwing up spaghetti. Boil it and throw on sauce from a five gallon can. We left the restaurant and I wanted to go to Selma's for some real coffee and rational conversation. Did I ever jump into it there. A table with Tim, Joe, Todd and Mr Moxley engaged in conversation. I sat down and we proceeded to go into a subject I didn't know we all saw pretty much the same way on. The shop was full of people we'd never seen before. A constant flow of so many people it kept Selma busy, which we're all happy to see.



We had animated conversation over our own coffees we like, mine Kenyan done French press. Joe drinks good tea. All these guys have active, intelligent minds. I love listening to them talk with each other. I love being in conversation individually with all of them and all of them together. Not one of us plays I-know-more-than-you-do. That game is entirely absent from the coffee shop, anyway among us. I can't speak for the people going in there I don't know. I remember in the early months when we who call ourselves the "regulars" would tune out when someone came in we didn't know who started posturing. Not one of us is responsive to posturing. We're all glad we found each other. It would have been complete if Dudley had been there, but he's on his way back from Seattle. It was refreshing to have these guys to talk with, not one of them a contrarian, all, acutally, sympathetic with each other, minimal judgment going around the table, if any. I arrived home around 4, went straight to the bed, kicked off shoes, stretched out, covered up and stayed there feeling my nervous system worn out from talking and paying close attention for 4 hours. Too wired to sleep, I relaxed into inner stillness and stayed there long enough to let all that nervous energy spiral down the drain.



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