While waiting in line for a Q&A last night I had the extreme misfortune of standing next to a stranger who wanted to talk to me.
I’m not anti-people, I’m just anti-somepeople. It’s not a big deal, you just don’t know which is which until you’re already person deep into the interaction. One of the (numerous) frustrating things about overpopulation is the fact that The Law of Large Numbers suggests that there are likely MILLIONS of people that you would dislike simply upon meeting them.
The Law of Large Numbers (TLoLN) is one of about fifteen things I remember from middle school, and as far as complexity of ideas it’s probably right that it’s something they teach to 12 year olds. The idea is puberty-simple: “If you do something enough times, even the unlikely outcomes will happen eventually.”
[Note: This means, statistically speaking, there’s someone out there that has ONLY met people s/he doesn’t like. At least one person has never LIKED another person, and through no fault of their own. Despite its deceptively jovial middle, TLoLN can be nightmarish.]
[Flip side: There’s a person out there that has ONLY ever had positive interactions with other people. Which situation makes you angrier?]
Anyway, TLoLN is my go-to law for advice giving.
Auditions? “Just do a bunch of them, one will work out.”
Apartment hunting? “Just commit to looking at 100 of them, you’ll like one.”
A friend of mine was lamenting his dating situation — I told him “Just go hit on four thousand hot women. It’s statistically unlikely that they’ll all reject you.”
This was a crap thing to say because:
a. I made that number REALLY high. 4,000?!|
b. I’m giving him the same dating advice that I would give, if I were twelve.
c. I softened my answer by saying -stastitically unlikely-. I left myself an out just in case all 4,000 did reject him.*
(*He’ll be fine after a few. Probably.)
Anyway. The Q&A.
This guy in line started talking to me. I don’t remember the exact phrase, but somehow his conversation starter went something like:
“Man, homeless people in L.A. what a pain!”
He then started, earnestly, bitching about the homeless, in all of the ways that really terrible people bitch about the homeless.
“They don’t REALLY want food.”
“Oh you know they just want to spend it on alcohol.”
“Oh my god you know they make a LOT of money doing that.”
What I should’ve said was “Being homeless probably isn’t awesome, so who cares what their agenda is?” Instead I tried to soften it with my latest homeless story. In another world I would transition to a homeless story here.
He then asked what I was doing in Hollywood. Tricked once, I thought this was genuine interest. And it was… he was genuinely interested in showing me a magic trick where he took a perfect douchebag and [shazam] replaced him with a perfectly self-involved douchebag. It was houdini fast AND puberty simple.
HIM: Oh you’re a screenwriter what are you working on?
ME: Well my writing partner and I are just gett —
ME: — done with our ..oh.
ME: So… I …what are you working on?
Unfazed he put away his phone and launched right into his description of his project.
Turns out, he’d just “starred” in a “film” where he was the “lead actor” and he “played” a “superhero.” I don’t know if quotation marks can be used to convey hate but I’m trying my “hardest.”
The movie involved fights between superheroes. I asked what his character’s superpower was, and he said: “it wasn’t specified.”
I’m not an expert on these things but… it seemed like…maybe…they should’ve specified. It could possibly have been a little helpful in those fight scenes. Being in a state of evolution I did NOT laugh at him and say that sounds like a terrible creative
decision oversight. I just nodded and said “Hmm” and that was the end of our line-friendship.
I’m tiptoeing into being completely honest in interpersonal interactions, it’s not as easy as it might look.
A few weeks ago I posted a snarky comment on a social media site. The basic gist was I thought it was funny (in an Alanis Morisette sort of way) that Anne Hathaway was getting famous-er and rich-er singing a song about Not Having Your Dreams Come True, when all of her dreams have come true like whoa, and never moreso than when she’s singing that song.
A friend of mine chimed in and called me out on being kind of wrong in my critique of that, if it were sincere. He was right to do so. Another friend of mine chimed in and said something along the line of HEY MAN IF YOU DONT LIKE IT ITS A FREE COUNTRY YOU DON’T HAVE TO WATCH THE MOVIE.
(This is a paraphrase.)
My knee-jerk reaction was to say “Oh man there must be some kind of miscommunication, I know what you mean and yes, artists don’t have to blah blah blah.” You know, paragraph after paragraph of apologies and understanding and re-establishing rapport and — being that guy gets to be exhausting. So I deleted it and started over.
I started with a link to the trailer for TipToes, the movie where Gary Oldman plays a midget.
I ended with this:
“Play nice. Alternately, exercise your right as a free person and read someone else’s facebook page, there are like a billion of them. Some of them have pictures of food and dogs.”
It was an ending in every sense of the word because he defriended me. This was December 25th.
I was hoping for a “HELL YEAH THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES!” feeling in my soul, because establishing boundaries is something I never ever do but am learning to.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel triumphant. I felt bad. Like I’d done a bad thing, and made a mistake.
Then some time passed. Now I don’t feel anything about it, one way or the other.