Saturday, July 7, 2007

All I'm Sayin' Is It Goes Without Sayin'

Some people find it difficult to make friends. I have been, and sometimes still am, one of those people.

There are lines drawn in the desert of our interactions with others, and these lines must not be crossed. Of course, they are constantly shifting with the winds and the dunes, and what may be appropriate dinner conversation in one context will get you thrown out of the restaurant under different circumstances.

For people who are less well equipped to discern these societal norms and unspoken rules, charting the waters of human interaction can be tricky business. Reefs and shoals abound, invisible tides and currents wait to carry you out to sea, beyond hope of rescue or redemption. Cut that girl loose, because after what you said last night, she'll never talk to you again.

These are the people who don't get the girl, who don't have a lot of friends, or who always say the wrong thing. The people who don't shower on a regular basis, because no one ever told them they should. The guy might be brilliant, he might have a heart of gold, he might even be a demon in the sack, but he doesn't shower, doesn't shave, and has no idea how to talk to co-workers, superiors, or women. He's toast. And no one will tell him why.

No one comes out and tells you what is acceptable behavior, you just have to figure it out. The topic of situational appropriateness is, paradoxically (or ironically, I can't remember which), one of the things we never talk about. I guess it's inappropriate.

(Something else weird: You know that Alanis Morissette song about how everything's ironic? And you know how all the things she talks about - rain on your wedding day, a free ride when you're already there, etc - aren't actually examples of irony? Don't you think that's a bit.... ironic?)

One of these unwritten rules of "appropriateness" (or maybe it is written, but I'm too lazy to look it up) governs the use of mixed metaphors. In a nutshell, the rule is: Don't. Reading back, you can see I've employed the use of "desert" and "ocean" metaphors, to describe the same thing. I wish I could say that this was by way of illustrating some point, but really it's because I'm a frickin' rookie.

There are some questions to which only personal experience can provide the answer. Things that cannot be taught, only learned. These lessons are always the most valuable, but so priceless is the lesson we have learned today (or failed to learn), that we should encase in salt and bury it a thousand miles beneath the Nevada desert, preserved for generations to come. Then, like the Egyptian pharaohs of old, we should bury the architects and builders of this tomb, and ensure that this lesson can only ever be "self-taught".

Of course I exaggerate to make a point, but if you've ever read anything that tries to teach the rules of human interaction, say a book on how to make friends, or how to meet women, you can begin to understand how difficult it is to verbalize some of the things we need to learn, to pass on. These books are almost painful to read.

If you can't verbalize it, you pretty much can't teach it. And so our loser-protagonist is doomed to wander the arctic wasteland of peer-society, never or rarely to know the warmth of successful interaction, and the many rewards it brings. Yet another metaphor. In case you're keeping score, that's 3-0.

Some things can be spoken, or written, and some can't. And some things cannot be blogged.

Totally unrelated: Condolences on the ending, and congratulations on the beginning, Boxer. She'd better deserve you.

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