Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beef

Maybe I shouldn't be so excited about having a nemesis. Perhaps I should take not so much delight in finally knowing someone I can despise without ambivalence.

Fool drafts an anti-Matt manifesto in response to the below piece, calls me a "closeted anti-intellectual bigot" and such things, posts it where everyone can see it. I try not to let it turn into a flame war. It turns into a flame war. I come to class with the intention of resolving things as peacefully as possible. I come to class willing to admit that I am perhaps too vocally contentious and invite confrontation. Professor obliquely raises topic of the flame war, which apparently everyone had been watching, before I have a chance to talk to Fool privately. I remain silent because I don't want to fight with people in class. Professor pushes issue, eventually declares in front of everybody that my piece offended him so profoundly that he only finished reading it out of professional obligation. Fool starts in with his infuriating, smug, fatuous drawl about how his screed was all a grand satire and really quite funny but he wouldn't expect me to understand. This is when I go off the deep end. What came out of my mouth was something between the frequencies of loud talking and unbridled, epileptic fury. I don't even remember what I said; basically that he was a bully and was incapable of being forthcoming/brave enough to just insult me without couching it in "this bullshit aesthetic, like you're providing a service by revealing my ignorance."

Then,

"If you're going to look at me and say 'fuck you,' I want you to look at me and say 'fuck you!'"

"Drawldrawldrawl something something I enjoyed every moment of writing that review and I think I could do a lot better than 'fuck you.'"

I'm not communicating this well enough. Imagine you are hopelessly, transcendently in love with someone. You have spent months and months together. You have plans to marry and have devoted everything to each other.

Then, one day you come home to discover the love of your life splayed out, naked, in some unspeakably compromising position. Standing next to them, with a lit candle and a cat-o-nine-tails, is your worst nightmare of a snide, patronizing yuppie/carnie who is also your boss. He puts down his implements, calmly walks over to you and starts explaining that "s/he just wasn't satisfied, sexually, emotionally, spiritually. Maybe some day you'll be mature enough not to be so attached. Anyway, you're a grownup and I'm sure you can put this behind you. Someday we might even be friends."

That is roughly how I felt having to endure this goon's condescension in front of everybody. Luckily, a lot of people in the class went out of their way to defend me. One even called the guy a dick.

The conclusion was, basically, "OK, we hate each other."

As soon as the dust settled, I rushed over to the professor and made it very clear just how badly he had fucked up fomenting the fight, that I did not appreciate it, that he had forced me into an adversarial position that precluded the possibility of reconciliation, that the pieces could no longer be picked up, class-wide battle lines had been drawn and it was his fault. All in calm, lucid tones, because I am a fucking professional. We came to an understanding.

Now I've got distance from it and one thing sticks out. Usually, when people attack me, especially on the Blog-a-Log, it really affects me. Some big part of me is drawn to consider myself on their terms. This did not happen. Because I AM A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL and I feel more like an adult than I ever have.

The woman from whom I'm subletting my room in Brooklyn took me aside, detecting some crossroads in my life and prescribing about an hour of spit-and-nails New York wisdom as the remedy. After telling me to read Anne Rice novels about a hundred times and giving me a book about astrology, lecturing about the trials of parenthood, the travails of modern life, cigarette in hand, she told me, "Ya gotta figure out what it is you wanna do to make yerself happy. That's all life's about. Makin' yerself happy. You're how old, twenty? You don't know shit about how life works yet. Just be yerself. Ya gotta just be yerself and do what you do to make yerself happy."

I wish everyone had such a landlady in their lives.

I'm being myself. I am twenty feet tall.

5 comments:

Lily said...

Congratulations, grown up.

I would have cried. In front of everyone. Hard.

S. Andrew said...

Great minds always offend their professors. Also, where are you going to school?

Amanda said...

I just finished "A Moveable Feast" and something sort o f like this happened to Hemingway.

Charlie said...

Dude, I'm so proud of you. Your nemesis is more true than any of mine. Way to stand up for yourself, take that shit head on!

But don't let it eat you either, life is full of shit heads, but remember you got friends at your back.

Jake said...

Boy's finna get hurt.