So I was over at Charlie's again today, and he had a really interesting post--two posts actually--about misunderstanding. It's very easy to take the words that someone sends to you through email, and attach your own sentiment to them, even if it isn't the sentiment the writer intended. Charlie did the smart thing; he asked his friend what she meant by what she wrote, and the situation was cleared up.
It got me thinking about a former friend of mine--aaah, there, I gave away the ending! Bad writer. Bad. Bad. Writer. This friend I met many moons ago when I was a deeply closeted young man; she became a good friend. We hung out together; movies, wine tasting, clubs, etc. She was a good friend. A good friend, who I think, knew The Truth About Bob; but since I wasn't saying anything, neither was she.
She was Catholic, or is Catholic, but was non-practicing back then, and is drunk with practicing now. See, she was raised Catholic, schools, churches and all that. But she had boyfriends and they had sex....a no no. They had protected sex...another no no. She even dated a man who was still technically married, and had sex with him....No. No.
Then she met a fellow Catholic and they got married and had the obligatory six, seven, nine-hundred children, and she became a Catholic again. Right about the time I was coming out. It wasn't an easy decision for me, but I didn't like the lie, didn't like the closet, didn't like me, so I told....everyone. My parents were wonderful, accepting, open, loving. Most friends were okay; some were not and they were never to be seen or heard from again. This friend, since she'd met her Catholic boy, was one who didn't seem to mind, but inch-by-inch she disappeared. And soon it was like, Who?
And then I met Carlos and moved. First to Miami, then to Smallville. And we lost touch--I remained friends with some of her family but not her. Until the day last year when I got an email from her. It goes something like this.....actually, it goes exactly like this because these are her exact words, as well as mine. Just to show that, sometimes you can't tell what someone means by their words, and other times the hate just drips off them like a puss.
She sent me an email, and a photo, about how Barack Obama didn't place his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance; and how he must, then, be a Muslim terrorist ready to destroy America. well, a few clicks of a mouse and I found the video the photo was taken from. It wasn't the Pledge of Allegiance, it was the National Anthem; and his hand wasn't over his heart, and neither was John Edwards--the event was at a party, birthday I think, for Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. So I sent back the correct video with a note about how one should check the facts before sending these, what I considered, dangerous emails. I also sent her a YouTube video called I'm Voting Republican.
I replied with this: Not if it was funny, but Republicans don't have a sense of humor!
She said: Sure we do, we think the gay community is hilarious.
He said: Oh Republicans don't think we're hilarious, they're too afraid of us to think that.
But we are fabulously hilarious!
We're getting married in California.
Get used to it.
She said: Afraid? No, I don't think so. More like we pity you.
He said: Pity me? Why is that? I think you call it pity, but it is fear and ignorance of things you know nothing about. Gay people have been around since the beginning of time and yet you're still afraid.
She said: If you need to think we are afraid of the gay community to make yourself feel better then that's fine. If you need our fear to feel empowered then you go right ahead and think that way. Enjoy your power and happy wedding day to you. I'm sure you'll live happily ever after like all fictional fairytales.
He said: First off, I don't need your opinion of me to make me feel better, anymore than you need my opinion of you to validate your life. And for you to suggest that my life and love with Carlos is fictional just shows how narrow-minded and bigoted you are, for you know NOTHING about us. And let's be clear, you ARE narrow-minded and bigoted and that's what feeds fear, feeds hatred, feeds ignorance.
I remember being there on your wedding day and being happy for you. Nice to know the sentiments aren't reciprocal.
I hope you have a good life, and I hope one day you'll learn to accept people who don't fall into your limited world view. Until then I doubt you'll ever know true happiness.
She said: Whatever.
And so that rang the curtain down entirely on what once was a friendship. I hadn't changed, except for coming out, but I hadn't pretended to be straight before, so it was not an issue. She had changed; she'd become very closed off, less fun than I remember, sad, angry. I don't think I was upset that I'd lost this friend, again, I think I was just sad because, once she married, she'd chosen to ignore everything her life was before, and become the very things she railed against when she was younger.
This isn't like Charlie's friend, whose words were misunderstood. This was much worse.