A friend of mine at work told another friend at work about this blog, tonight. Later, this second friend came up to me and said, I learned a secret about you tonight. I said it’s not a secret. By which I meant, it’s not a secret to her.
You can tell who you like right away, can you not? The primary reason I keep my job is because of the people. We seem to hire right, or at least better than most other places. I’m excited when new people show up to the job, because I know odds are I’m going to click with at least a few of them.
The click is what matters. And it’s unpredictable. Despite the occasional influence of my political views, based in kindergarten, Sesame Street rhetoric, that everyone ought to be your friend but ESPECIALLY those who are different from you, because I guess if that person is different from you than by simple mathematics they’re more likely to be more different from more people than you are since they’re already down one like soul, despite this kind of instinct I’ve cultivated in my 34 years to be more interested in the stories of the dissimilar, which occasionally leads me to question whether I just assume I like someone because I don’t understand them, when actually if they were a white dude from the suburbs I wouldn’t find them the least bit intriguing, despite that minor bit of doubt as to who I’m clicking with and why, I find a pretty wide representative sample of clickers, culturally and ethnically speaking.
I click more easily with females, perhaps because of my older sisters leading the way in terms of my development as young sprout, and my mom, all of them so distinct but consistent in my child’s eyes, consistent in their own methods of navigating the world as individuals, picking friends not by popularity scores but by whom they could call upon when needed, picking interests by soul-searching, mining themselves for their own talents before settling for what was trendy. I click better with people I respect, and I suppose I can more quickly identify a woman I respect than a man.
Beyond that? There is no categorization possible.
I have clicked with the wealthy and clicked with the poor, the former more often when they don’t know they’re well off, the latter the same. I can click with any race, any ethnicity, any religion, though if someone leads with their religion I’m put on guard. Still though, not impossible. One of my good friends, Kim, to whom I still owe a birthday call, stomped on me the first day I met her for saying the word ‘Jew,’ which I did, I think, I said Jewish in conversation not as like the pejorative secular slur as it is sometimes used, but in an admittedly weird context, and she called me out on it, as she should have, given that at least to my memory that was back in the heyday of people using that slur as a jest, like wouldn’t-it-be-awful-if-I-really-meant-it, which has thankfully died down, and despite that introduction still to this day I have to remind myself that she is Jewish and I should wish her a happy Chanukah, because I don’t think of her as a category, apt for a filing cabinet. She is a clicker, a friend, one of the closest.
Sometimes I feel a click with people who don’t feel it back as strongly, or if they do they don’t know how to show it, or if they do show it I don’t recognize it because of vast cultural differences. In particular I’m thinking of black people, here. Not like all black people but those with whom I can catch eyes with and communicate, it feels like telepathy sometimes, when you click with somebody, but typically the black people I click with I don’t wind up getting a whole lot closer to, for the above mentioned reasons, I suspect. Doesn’t mean the click ain’t real, though.
I have clicked with single mothers and traditional, almost Evangelical Christian wives. I have clicked with virgins as well as people to whom bondage and blindfolds are so five years ago. Asians, Austrians, Australians, Appalachians. Drug-dependents and straight edgers. Gays and straights and everyone in between (as most people are). Business majors, naval officers, anarchists. People who love me and sometimes people who hate me, at least a little, but they probably wouldn’t care enough to hate me if they didn’t know that I know what they know. And vice versa.
All of this is coming to mind, though, because of someone I never really did find a click with. We even tried to force it a few times, went to watch some of the most recent World Cup games together. We never hit it off like gangbusters, but I am dating someone with whom he did.
Syed Ali Haider is a published and up-and-coming author, which is why I don’t hesitate to use his name, because I want you to know his name, because you should be reading him anyway, our acquaintance notwithstanding. He is a person I like, a person I respect, and my girlfriend’s former college roommate. They had several nights during the MFA program where it was unspoken what would be happening after class that day, which often, I’m told, was sitting around and watching Friends, but even if it wasn’t that, I can be sure of, without ever having been told a specific story of the like, that there were nights they would get home and start talking and sit around talking and them maybe go to a restaurant and talk and they with their third roommate John Andrews who is a poet you should know might talk until they absolutely had to go to bed because soon it would be time to start this day’s shenanigans all over again, but when they went to bed, in their respective rooms (get your mind out of the gutter, you), they would all feel more satisfied with their lives, because whatever was said that night needed to be said by each of them.
I have had many friends like this and most of them I’ve been foolish enough to let distance and time separate us. Which I only bring up because how I talk about those friends is how Gretchen talks about Ali and John. They three clicked, is the point, and because I am dating a member of that triad I consider Ali to be an honorary clickee of yours truly.
Ali is the occasion for this entry because he posted a social media entry about how the rhetoric of the Republican front-runner for the upcoming presidential election is having a direct effect on his life. And while I have never held any measure of respect for this sudden politician, I have been as fascinated as the next person as to why this rhetoric, not really why it’s working because I know why it’s working, it’s so simple it’s persuasive, but it is very confusing to me how anyone can take what he’s been saying past even the basest level of scrutiny and come out the other side actually believing it. His core constituency doesn’t believe it, I’m convinced, but they are afraid enough to want to stand in the shadow of what they deem to be the biggest balls.
So if even the people saying they would vote for him are smart enough to know Hitler-esque propaganda when they see it, which I assume they do, then the fascinating part of it, the part that must be fascinating to me because what else is there, is this: does he really believe it himself? Can the man himself actually be this blinded by his own ego? Because, as much as he’s trying to prove the contrary, he is a human being, and evidently social, and he’s plenty old enough to have met enough people that at least some degree of diversity would have been involved, right? So he’s got to know, if he’s got any memory at all, any value system whatsoever that would lead him to making at least two friends in his life, that the people he clicked with were unexpected, unpredictable, if not vastly diverse then at least not out-and-out clones of each other. Right?
If you have two friends. Two people you like, at minimum. You have to be able to see the differences between them. You have to be aware that you can take this friend bowling, but this one doesn’t like it. You must know that, as all good American Christians do, that this particular gift would be better for this friend than it would the other. Two is all it takes! To see and value the possibility inherent in diversity! In fact, to see the necessity of diversity, because if those two friends were carbon copies, why even keep them both around? You wouldn’t! The redundancy would be infuriating!
So, ergo, I present to the jury: he cannot believe it. This man, this blowhard. He cannot believe the vile bilge he spews everyday anew, like some toxic Old Faithful. But he’s demonstrated a willingness to continue doing so as long as it’s his best shot at power.
The only thing to be done then is to stop promising him this reward. Stop granting him this attention. Stop complimenting his balls. Because while he may not even believe what he’s saying, the fact that he’s ignoring the obvious and being praised for it is convincing others to do the same. To invent a fiction to meet the need of an easy solution to a scary world. Anyone with literally two brain cells to rub together, because two, as I said, is the magic number, therefore anyone beyond a zygote’s development knows that he is lying through his fangs, but by continuing to promote this method of dealing with the problem, we are encouraging the act of lying as an acceptable coping mechanism. We know that the individual is multifaceted, fickle, unknowable, but we permit ourselves the lie of using one characteristic to define them, and therefore fear them, and therefore hate them.
This hatred is putting my friend Ali in danger. His family, in danger. All of it from a lie. I can’t stand it anymore. I won’t even gratify the liar responsible with a namedrop, much less a hashtag. It is unconscionable, and if at all possible I will never mention this man again in my writing or otherwise, because I refuse to take part in that cycle.
But I would love to tell you more about Ali. Too bad we never really clicked. So instead, I will close with this, to my friend at work who just discovered this blog tonight, someone with whom I do feel a click: asalam alaykum. Peace to you, my friend.