Thursday, March 22, 2012

The hate crime no one talks about

Oh yes. Oh, yes, Captain Kirk, and his noble soliloquy in perhaps my fave original Star Trek episode, Miri. The one with all the kids on that planet, you know, all by themselves coz the adults all died, and they get all gross when they hit puberty and Yeoman Rand's leg looks like a major cigarette burn. I watched it at 13, tape recording it as I usually did on our old reel-to-reel Webcor with the fan-shaped microphone. Kirk wasn't ridiculous then, he wasn't a joke, he wasn't a buffoon and to date, he had done no Loblaws commercials. Kirk was just Kirk.

But his immortal line, "no blah blah blah!" has taken on a special significance in my mind over many decades of observation.

Do you know what I'm talking about? Happens so often I want to yip with irritation. In fact it happened yesterday:  we're in Denny's eating our veggie omelettes with hash browns, when I hear a familiar drone coming from behind Bill's seat.


I -

UMMM da bummada bummda. Mm-mmoom-dah! Da bomada bomada damda bom.

A -

Bum BUM DA dum dum, demda dum! Dem -

So you get the idea by now. It was one of those totally one-sided conversations you constantly overhear (without meaning to: this is hardly eavesdropping, as I would have loved to shut out all this blathering) in restaurants or theatres or other public places.

One person is blathering on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and - sorry, my hand just fell off - but as this blathablathablathablathablathablatha goes on, all of it self-referential, all of it self-serving, all of it self-entitled, all of it related to the blatherer's intense suffering at not being treated like a crown prince/ss, I can sense the listener/receiver's blood volume being slowly, slowly, and surely sucked down and siphoned out.

When they leave the restaurant, the blatherer will be hugely inflated with self-righteous helium for the next deadly gas attack, and the victim (for that is what it is) will be but a pale shadow of his/her former self. She will be so anemic, you'll be able to see through her. She'll have to go home and lie down for a month or two, maybe get a transfusion.

But the thing is, they'll still go out again next week for lunch. The same thing will happen all over again. He or she will tell the same pompous, pointless stories, the same tales of persecution. No one even notices how soul-destroying the experience is. The entitled one will be bursting with hemoglobin by now, ready to explode like some honey-forced queen bee or ruptured giant termite. The victim will now weigh 37 pounds. Doesn't matter how many pancakes she puts away.

I heard it yesterday and I heard it at the mall food fair the day before with a similar booming, thrumming, droning male voice, this time with some sort of European accent. Bom-bomda-BOMmmdaa-bommmm-daBOMmada-bonga, etc. etc.

This is not a conversation. This is a monologue. The monologuist has no idea that it isn't a conversation and in fact thinks he's a very good conversationalist, very smart and sharp. His blathering about camping equipment or the plumbing in his house or his car troubles or the asshole at work who got the promotion he should've got (or his bitch of a wife, always a favorite) strikes him as scintillating discourse sparking a lively debate, an exchange of witticisms rivalling the Algonquin Round Table in sheer witti-blah-tudinous-ness.

He doesn't know, because his brain is made out of shoe leather and his psyche is about as penetrable as a block of obsidian. I would like to start carrying a baseball bat around with me to play whack-a-mole with these characters, but there are just too many of them, and besides, then *I* would be considered obnoxious and antisocial, hitting these poor innocent guys who weren't doing nothin'.

This is abuse. The endless, boring, repetitive blathering with only the occasional squeak out of the audience/receiver/victim/codependent masochist.  This person NEEDS this sort of ego-stroking, this constant reinforcement of his (or her: one of the worst I've encountered is a her, droning on for 45 minutes about her Grade 11 science teacher and what he wore to class) innate sense that his every word is interesting and useful and even enlightening, when in reality it's a torrent of horseshit more horrific than the result of opening Mr. Ed's stable door.

There is nothing to be done. Stay away, that's all I can say to you, try to stay away and not call them friends. A friend does not stick a drinking straw in your jugular vein and begin to vigorously suck. Blatha-blatha-blathata-blah.

I don't know if this codicil belongs here, but I might as well tack it on. It's the self-proclaimed expert who charges into a room full of chemo patients and bellows, "TAKE MILK THISTLE AND YOU WILL BE CURED!" The person so sure of (his or her) convictions that they force them on others as absolute, unassailable gospel truth.

One doctor I know is a doozie. Educated, an "expert" on many things, in fact famous.

"Illness means you've repressed your emotions."

"No, you mean: I believe illness means you've repressed your emotions."

"There's no debate about this, it's simply true."

"So everybody else, everyone who believes something different from you, is completely erroneous and full of shit?"

"I didn't say that! Don't be so defensive. It's just an opinion."

"Then why didn't you say so?"

"Because it's an opinion that happens to be true."

"Jesus, don't you hear yourself? That's total arrogance!"

"Obviously you have issues with authority figures."

"No, just with YOU, asshole!"

(That last line was fantasized, but isn't it great?)

I once attended some sort of workshop (it had something to do with my sick and dying church trying to manage a last-minute, futile resurrection) where the facilitator said, "Tell me the difference between these two statements: Divorce is terrible."

(Slight tremor in the room, caused by minute vibrations from the divorced people trying not to spit at her.)

"MY divorce was terrible. Which statement is easier to accept?"


But people don't do it that way! They stride in and say, "Everything happens for a reason/God never gives us more than we can handle/It's all in God's plan." This person has never suffered a major hardship, and in fact has led a charmed existence.  God's will has been, at least up to now, a piece of cake. (Secretly she/he thinks it's because she prays a lot and "surrenders", so God favors her.) But never do they say, "I've come to believe that - " or even, "It's my conviction that - ". No, they just take one of those thingamabobs they used to tamp down powder in a cannon, and casually shove it down your throat.

"I was about to die in a car crash, but my angel saved me."

"God must have intervened."

"It was meant to be" (but NEVER with reference to anything negative. Only positive things are "meant to be". No sense of entitlement here.)

"It was God's plan that little Timmy survive being run over by an express train 47 times."

Oh yes? What about this couple over here, dying of grief because God DIDN'T save their son? What about the man whose wife actually did die in a crash? Didn't she believe enough, didn't God love her enough, didn't she have the right mojo or put enough on the collection plate?

It's really just more BLAHBLAHBLAH, of a particularly toxic variety. It's toxic because it is so un-thought-out, so carelessly said. So smug. So entitled ("see, God loves me enough to pull me out of flaming wreckage. What's wrong with you?")

I wonder sometimes if even half of what people say is really considered, or if it just pours out of them like so much raw sewage. They snag on to jingles, axioms, homilies, catch-phrases, churn them around unexamined, and spit them in your face. They never preface these statements, just jam them up your nose as "fact".  It's easier than thinking, easier than feeling empathy or compassion or any of those dangerous things that require a little stretching of the soul.

The blatherers of the world are verbal thugs. When you see one, whether it's in Denny's or the hardware store or your local church or synogogue, whacking the palm of his hand with a lead pipe and wearing a smug self-involved smile, there's only one thing you can do.