I’ve made a mistake.
I know I’ve made, like, at least two mistakes, previously, in my whole life and this would make three, and that’s like, a holy number, so maybe I’ve come full circle, now. God, I hope.
And though I don’t make many mistakes, I know quite well what it feels like; the three I’ve made already have hurt like the Dickens. You know what the Dickens feels like, don’t you?
It feels like a headache plus a backache plus a neckache plus a stomachache, and your stomach is connected to your knee bone and your knee bone’s connected to your jaw bone, something like that, and so on. That’s why they wrote a song about it. That’s the Dickens, my friend.
However, I hope to point out to you, in the course of making this confession (albeit a couple years too late), that it was an honest mistake, made in jest. And stop right there before you even say it. I know you’re thinking it: Freud says, there’s an ounce of truth in every joke. (He did say that, didn’t he?)
At any rate, it sounds like him, and it’s certainly true, too, in my book. So, I’m not really disagreeing with you; I just didn’t want you to say it.
What I remember, about my third mistake, is this: in an off-handed, throw-away comment I, recalling a witty retort Lincoln made once, told someone that “of their two faces, I preferred the one that smiled more.”
Laugh, laugh, laugh. (Yes, we always laugh at the first bite. It’s always funny to watch the Wasp).
I remember, too, thinking that I was at a table of beautiful people. So beautiful, in fact, that I felt the urge to applaud them. (I read that line somewhere, once, and it’s stuck with me; I have never actually met anyone beautiful enough to be applauded, though once I nearly attempted a slow clap for this one guy, but for his profile only. When he turned full face – well, it just didn’t work out, let’s leave it at that).
The laughter only lasted a few moments, and then, came the time for telling the truth. (It’s usually around 10:18 PM when truth telling time comes).
“Wait, wait a second…are you saying I’m two-faced?” We were still grinning through this part.
“No…I mean, well, OK, maybe sometimes.” Who isn’t, right?
“I am NOT two-faced.”
“No, no, I’m just saying, sometimes…you know…we, we all get that way.”
“Not me. You asshole. Not me.”
Just like that, the truth was told. And, he did not like the truth.
Back and forth, back and forth, we rolled: him, slinging poorly-designed epithets and coarse names at me; me, trying, as ever, to dig myself out of a diplomatic hole. I should point out that we’d been drinking.
You should know, I don’t like to holler, or scream, or yell. It’s not in my nature. Every time I’m cast in a play that requires my character to do any or all of the aforementioned, I cringe a little. I can’t abide the idea of stripping my voice, like that.
Regular stripping is fine, though.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m bringing this up today. (So am I, to be honest). I haven’t thought about it for quite some time, but it creeped into my mind this morning. I guess I should say I’m a tad ashamed that I used humor as a weapon like that. (Though, I am afraid I do it all the time). But, what really bothers me is the idea that we all use humor this way.
We diffuse with humor…I know I do, in nearly every situation. And when those situations occur, or recur, as the case may be, I stand on guard with an arsenal of spiteful comic relief at the ready.
For instance, I never forget anything. I might misplace it for awhile, as is the case with this particular dish of mea culpa, but it eventually finds its way back to the forefront of my mind. Ultimately, it slips out of my mouth in the form of a joke, or sarcasm, or satire, and sacrifices itself for the sake of “making the point.”
Ready. Aim. Fire.
It’s like we’re evil sponges that just float around town, bumping into others, hoarding in on every conversation, so we can stumble across some tidbit and absorb it, store it for later use in our arsenals, at which time, we will casually or caustically or even accidentally, let it spill forth like a pearl of wisdom (or a bullet) and onto the bar, or tableful of beautiful people.
That’s what happened to me.
The more frightening thing? I’d never really thought of this person as being two-faced, before. Not in my waking days. But, apparently, my subconscious had caught on and quickly. It was delightfully shocking to realize I’d been unwittingly categorizing this person as Mr. Two-Faced for who knows how long…and then to have it come out, like that, in front of all his most sacred friends.
I never was completely aware of what we were arguing about; all I knew was what started it, and that one of us did “protest too much.” But the more I sat there and thought about it, the more I believed it, that he was this way and always had been.
Slowly, I began to notice something: humor allows the truth to be seen. When I caught hold of that, in my mind, I was embarrassed. Because the truth was this: I was sitting at a table full of people I didn’t really want to know.
I was, in fact, Mr. Two-Faced, myself.
No wonder my neck, back, head, and everything else God gave me, was aching. I was trying to be what I didn’t want to be. I was putting myself in situations rife with opportunities to get a little drunk and speak the truth about people I didn’t even care about.
How sad is that. Don’t normal people just rent “dirty movies, drink mimosas, and French kiss the pillows?” There had to be a better way for me to get my kicks than to encourage a loose tongue.
And before I realized it, I’d learned a blame moral. I can’t recall ever having learned a moral in real life, just from Dr. Seuss, and The Poky Little Puppy. But this was right in front of my face, this moral: just because you know a truth, doesn’t mean you have to be the one to share it. That’s the third mistake I made. Because I used to believe if I saw a need, I had to fill it.
I never stopped to think that first, it has to be a need worth filling.