November 12, 2009
As many of my close friends and family members will attest to, I have a tendency to write about the people I know and in so doing, sometimes unexpectedly hurt feelings, raise ire, or otherwise embarrass those I care about most. Occasionally, I'll get an email telling me as much.
Example: (click to enlarge)
That was in response to an offhand complaint I made about pitching in 10 bucks for a BBQ and then finding out that no one else gave money, making my ten dollars the entire budget- which made for a lame BBQ.
My intent with this blog is never malicious, I just like telling stories, true stories- and most of the time the most interesting true stories involve people doing stupid or ridiculous things. I try to make myself that person as often as possible to avoid upsetting people, but sometimes people get upset over really unexpected things, like funerals.
Writing about myself so frequently, I don't really think about what it would be like for someone else to write about me, and I'd never really met anyone else who keeps a blog- until quite recently. I went to a literary reading last month and afterwards went to a bar across the street from the venue to mix and mingle with the presenters and the six friends of the presenters that made up the audience. It's sort of a small community.
I was chatting with a girl who had read at the event and I was modestly flirting or “hitting on” her to use the male nomenclature of the act. We were discussing the problematic issues of coming up with band names and book titles, troubles we were both going through at the time. During the conversation she offhandedly mentioned that she keeps a daily blog that is actually about flirting. Well, I hadn't realized I was going head to head with a professional, so I decided then and there I had to pull out my A-game, which for me meant staying charming just long enough to finish my beer and leave on a high note before I ran out of witty banter or got drunk. We exchanged information and I left. A-Game brought.
Of course the first thing I did when I got home was check out her blog. You don't even have to talk to people to get to know them anymore! As I mentioned in a previous post , you just Google them.
I enjoyed reading about her adventures in dating and flirting and over the next week, we emailed back and forth a bit, band names and that sort of thing, continuing the conversation. I also continued to browse her blog and while my likeness did not grace the pages, many interesting posts did that gave me pause to think. Hmmmmmmmm.
I couldn't quite decide if having this insight into a someone's world would put a person at an advantage over or a disadvantage under the person who wrote it. Granted, you have to understand that in writing, especially about topics like dating, the writer has to create a persona- sharing certain characteristics with him or herself, but not necessarily truly who they are. Focusing in and really channeling our neurosis or vanity or whatever we are using creates a less ambiguous space for the reader to receive and identify with the story we're telling.
All this knowledge however, was not enough to prevent me from losing my cool in the face of a woman who blogs. Maybe the fact that I was trying to incorporate myself into this small literary community, of which she is a part, made me fear that should I be written about, I would naturally be estranged and exiled to a literary Elba.
Despite all this, we did meet again at another reading the next week and I would say I was distracted at best. Now fearing that my lame flirting skills would appear for thousands to read about, shockingly, I was a tiny bit flustered. My conversation skills were less than sparkling that night as my brain searched itself for something interesting to say. I actually think I started talking about how little I have been published. What the fuck is wrong with me? At any rate, I had to run to a friend's show right after the reading, so at least I didn't embarrass myself for too long.
Curious to see if the Hindenburg made the papers, I checked her blog the following Monday and my eyes went wide as they scanned the page. There on screen was a detailed account of the story I have just told you, but from the female perspective!
There were certain discrepancies, like my contacting her via Twitter? Anyone who knows me would see this for the mistake it is, because I do not use Twitter. It was Facebook. But reading it, I couldn't help having a huge grin on my face and giggling like a little girl the entire time, even though I knew Old Yeller would get shot at the end. It was still what every man has always dreamed of- a window into a woman's mind- her thoughts on him. The conversation, the emails, the fact that i'm financially unstable; it was all there! I was even referred to with the incredibly appropriate pseudonym, Hot Band Guy. No one's going to accuse her of bad taste anyway.
What I found most interesting was her take on our second meeting. I was finally able to really understand the effect I have on women when I am nervous, flustered and just don't know what the hell to say. To quote her account of the evening, “after about 7.5 minutes, I was totally bored. And I just knew that I would never be able to continue talking to him for more time than it took for me to down my club soda.” So, to extrapolate on this-- clearly, this woman is insane. Because I am always interesting. Always! Well, obviously that is not true. But you know, I really couldn't even be offended. She didn't use my real name and I can't blame her for being bored. Half the time I just sat there nodding at what she was saying like some kind of giant retarded bobble-head.
So after forwarding the blog to every contact in my address book and bragging that I was that boring jackass, I started thinking about the people that I write about, whose actions I might misinterpret or take out of context. I know that all writing is pretty much subjective (at least the kind I do) and there will always be two sides to every story, even though I can only tell one. I know I'll always write about the people in my life because I write about what I know best, and what I love most. But I shouldalways remember to keep their side of the story in mind. Or just write about people who will never, ever, ever read my blog. True story.