Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Werelips

I'm not sure if other people have this problem, but something seems to happen between the thoughts in my head and the words that leave my mouth. It's like I think one language but speak another. Something is always lost in the translation. "Lost" would be the wrong word for it, actually. More like mangled. The junk I end up spewing kind of vaguely resembles what I had originally wanted to say in the first place, but it's some horrible disfigured monster. Like it became a werewolf on its out of my face. One instant it's this nice, pleasant, brilliant thought, and the next it's a snarling, rabid animal intent on shitting on whatever intelligence it once had.

This, not that I think on it, is probably one of the largest contributing factors to my being a social outcast. That and how I feel like my butt is suddenly gigantic when I get embarrassed, but that's a different story! In discussions—class discussions, social discussions, it doesn't matter—I have opinions which often do differ with the norm, but aren't usually very inflammatory. I think of exactly the precise words to illustrate my point, open my big, stinky trap, and something awful and indecent spills out uncontrollably, splashing across the floor and staining the shoes of my rightfully disgusted audience. Any attempts at mopping this mess simply smears it around and sticks it to the floor, while simultaneously making me even more sick and blurp out spills even more shit.

I never had a problem with this impacting how I convey myself in writing, which is why I've spent the last fourteen or so years almost exclusively as a denizen of the Internet. The past twoish maybe three years, though, have been... unsettlingly interesting in regards to how I'm expressing myself or maybe just in regards to how people are reading me. See, it's one of those things where I'm not sure if it's me or if there's been some kind of societal gap. Since I never had a problem with written language in the past it doesn't seem like I should be blaming myself. It really isn't a secret that as a species we are becoming more bullheaded and stubborn and less willing to hear other people's views. Before they've even opened their mouths we already have our next steaming retort ready and loaded. It's an attitude that doesn't lend itself well to... much of anything, actually.

But this is happening to me all over the place. I will say something I don't think will start any trouble or offend any single person. I've always done my best not to be offensive (although as I'll get to in a minute, I've had some pretty awful muck-ups with the whole brain-mouth-mistranslation). However, since this is happening in multiple social circles and message boards, I can't logically attribute the entire failing to "society" at large. Some part of this has to be, if not my fault, something I'm doing. Something wrong. I don't know if I have some kind of adult-onset mental thing, but I do know that I'm making enemies in places I don't want to be making enemies. And I do know that a large part of this is people not understanding what I'm saying.

I've actually made my point a lot more clear than I thought I would—at least, I think I did. So the story I'm going to tell might not be needed anymore. I'm going to shoehorn anyway, though, because it's what was on my mind at the time and what started this whole deal to begin with. It's also a situation that I keep replaying, at least once a month. Just over and over, and hating myself a little more every time. Maybe by writing here, if not for the benefit of my post, for the benefit of myself. Maybe I can just work it out of me and finally move on. We'll see.

When I was in middle school, I think it was eighth grade. No, it was seventh. In seventh grade my middle school split the students into three parts, each with a set of four designated teachers. One teacher for Science, one for Math, one for History (oh, I'm sorry, "Social Studies"), and one for English (er, "Language Arts). The three teams were designated a color to represent them, based, I think, on the district's colors for their sports team or whatever. In any case, the teams were Green Team, White Team, and Gold Team, separated by intellect. I was on the White Team, if you can believe it or not. That meant I was on the average team, not the stupid one. Woo-hoo!

So there came a day, I'm not sure how early or late into the school year this day was, where my Language Arts class was tasked with the goal of as a group developing a mascot for our team. We were all on the peripheral of the room, our chairs turned toward the center so I could have a nice wonderful view of everyone I've hated since fifth grade. And everyone who's hated me since fifth grade or probably earlier as I learned last year. So as the White Team we had to find something that identified our team color, and us as a whole.

What was my brilliant suggestion? Well, immediately I though of the White Bengal Tiger. They were exotic, they were rare. They were my first nudge in the pursuit of understanding unusual things. They were fierce, the biggest, the baddest, the best. They were, and very much are, awesome. Everyone would love it. Most of those morons were throwing things out like: "We should be The Clouds." Nobody had an idea, and here I was about to come tearing through the room with all the rage and majesty of nature's most perfect predator. Barely able to hold it all in, I shot my hand into the air.

"We should be the White Tigers, because they're all white and so are we."

Oops.

That wasn't what I wanted to say. If you've been paying attention you probably know what I'm getting at. We were the White Team, the tiger was white, and I thought it was awesome. At this point in time race didn't even exist for me. I mean, there were people of other skin color and I knew they were of other skin color, but to me they were just people. Unfortunately everyone who heard what I said all leaped to the conclusion that I spent my nights prowling the streets dressed as a ghost.

"No we're not," sneered one girl. She was part of the collective I refer to as "The Assholes." No matter what I said at any point ever, she didn't like it. I think the most frequent word she said to me was "Retard."

The rest of the class mostly sat with their mouths agape, the exception being the one or two people I knew understood what I had meant. There was a great calamity after everyone had found their voices, or the most painful insults their tiny twelve-year-old brains could muster. "Racist! Moron! Faggot!"

I fumbled over an apology and an explanation of what I actually meant. They wouldn't hear it. "Just stop, retard."

I goofed, I said something easily horrible. That wasn't the words trapped in my skull, that was the rancid werewolf that toxicized everything I tried to say. From that day on it didn't matter what I had to say. I was always met with an eye roll and a flat "No." Of course somebody else could come on over, say the exact same thing, and be met with enthusiasm and applause. That one mouth mishap murdered my social life until I finally moved away after Freshman year. It promptly took all over three months for the werewolf to put an end to my life at the new school as well.

This happened to me constantly, still does. It leaves me nearly mute. I'm absolutely terrified to speak my mind, to offer a suggestion, to give an opinion. I used to fantasize about those cartoons where Wile E. Coyote or Tom the Cat could just lift up a wooden sign that said exactly what they were thinking in the most precise words possible. I always wanted one of those signs. The other alternative would be to have some Martian heritage and just blast visual impressions of my thoughts into other people so they'd finally get it. Unfortunately this is real life, and neither of those things happen.

As hard as it is for me to recognize my faults (hard? My faults? Hardly) and realize that I do need to work on them, I do have to point out one thing that permeates our culture. Impatience. Arrogance. And anger. So maybe that's three things, but they all mush into the same one idea once we get to the bottom of it. People aren't willing to listen, and they also aren't willing to hear mistakes. There is such an attack-defend nature to the average conversation that nobody is willing to give a little ground, or to bother attempting to understand that the people they're talking with are people and people are not perfect and people make mistakes. People fumble over thoughts, and words, and ideas. Some more than others. But I think if we toned down the aggression just a little bit and tried to hear the other person instead of kick them in the balls while they're down, the world might just run a little more smoothly. I dunno. Just a thought.

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