Friday, August 18, 2006

Mr. Right

I love being wrong, don’t you? Really?

One of the funny things about the human animal is our absolute aversion to being wrong. About anything. Somewhere deep in our programming it says if you are wrong you are weak. I’ve grappled with detaching ego from being wrong – finding the opportunity in being wrong. Then, you are actually open to learning something new or seeing something from another angle previously beyond your scope of awareness. But it ain't easy.

Before I met Mr. Wonderful, I was on meeting other potential Mr. Wonderfuls. To be sure there were some great candidates that restored my faith in the elusive creature known as the “Nice Guy in LA.”

But there was one guy who gave new meaning to the term Mr. Right. He was (and is) an AM radio talk show host on a fairly right-leaning station. He seemed surprised I’d never listened. Considered himself a minor celebrity.

I’d prepared for our date by trying to listen to his show the night before. I made it for a good half hour before a woman called in.

“I want you to know you’re my hero,” she gushed to my would-be suitor. “And I know what’s wrong with this country. It all started to go down hill with the women’s movement when women stared to feel equal to men.” First I was appalled that any woman would make such a statement but then I am equally surprised that any women voted for Bush so go figure. Second I was frightened to hear that humans who thought this way considered my date as their hero. What was I getting myself into?

We met at a tony little eatery on Ventura and after he praised me for having posted somewhat accurate photos on Match, he opened with: “I’m sure you know about my whole debacle in Atlanta. I just think you should hear from me that her lawyer skewed everything.”

I hadn’t heard of said Atlanta debacle but a messy story about an Ex seemed like an interesting first date conversation to me. We then proceeded to talk religion and politics, thus hitting the Big Three of first date conversation No Nos inside an hour.

I confessed that I’d been a tad alarmed by parts of his show.

He laughed and explained that he liked some opposition in his dates. “A woman who thinks for herself. Even if she’s wrong.” I sputtered my iced tea and he laughed again. “Seriously. Most of my girlfriends have been liberals. I think a relationship is good if it has a little fire to it.”

I studied him carefully over my Lipton. I could see his point. Fire keeps things from stagnating. I could see a vaguely possible future of sitting by the fire in a Cape Cod house and engaging in lively, mutually respectful debates while our Irish Wolfhound snoozed by the hearth. But as a child of two divorces, I’m more into domestic bliss than domestic battle. In fact when an argument or disagreement starts, ancient bells sound in my psyche chiming “This is it! It’s over! He’s leaving now!” Not something I think I could live with on a daily basis over breakfast and the New York Times.

Wait, he wouldn’t read the Times because it’s biased. And I’m silly for depending on NPR for my news in case you were wondering. What about the ridiculous NeoCon spin Fox News puts on everything? He countered that it was less extreme than the bleeding heartism of NPR.

Instead of running for the hills right then and there, I decided to see for myself just how unbiased I could be. I spent a week comparing news items from a variety of sources, each time listening for an angle or an agenda. Were they trying to lead me to a specific conclusion or were they reporting strictly facts? In the end, I came back to my trusted sources, NPR and BBC. To me they seemed to use less adjectives and adverbs to subtly lead opinion. And they didn’t engage in ordering stories in such a way to build up fear or hate before a fluff piece designed to make the casual listener go from worry to “But see how everything is great as long as we agree with W’s policies?”

This seemed like kind of an obvious conclusion for me to reach. So I questioned myself again. Was I just believing in the lesser bias of NPR and BBC because I wanted to? Was I really being fair or were my news outlets just as guilty of leading me by the nose?

I wrestled with this question for a week before I stopped to wonder “Wait, is my date bothering to look outside his news media box like this? Why am I the only one here concerned about being labeled close-minded? Why am I not standing up to this opinion maker for what I believe is right?”

Just then a friend sent me a link to a film positing what I thought were some interesting questions about 9/11. Since we were in an ongoing political discussion, I sent the link to my date and asked what he thought. Instead of opening a dialog as I imagined, he responded with “You don’t seriously believe that crap, do you?” Hmmm, way to consider both sides, buddy.

I responded that I didn’t know one way or the other but I thought it posed interesting questions and I wondered what he thought. Obviously the film’s creator had a reason for coming to the conclusions he did. Valid or not, I thought it was worth considering.

His response was that only stupid people would believe such drivel.

And then I got it.

Huzzah for the stupid! Last time I checked, looking at all sides of an issue made mine an inquisitive mind, and a humanitarian one. Isn’t it the responsibility of the citizen to question her government? The believer, her religion? I told him that if a willingness to consider other people’s points of view – if being open to understand the world of my fellow man, friend or foe, makes me stupid, then so be it. Send the little yellow bus on over. And lose my email while you’re at it.

This great authoritative man, this paper tiger, whose roar is followed by thousands daily on the AM dial is one of the most emotionally shut down, fearful people I’d ever encountered. His obsessive drive to be right had just cost him any second date with me. No loss to him, I’m sure. In fact I’m sure in his world he’s right about the fact I’m just one more crazy LA bitch he had the misfortune of meeting.

But a wise man once told me when you point the finger of blame at someone else, three other fingers point back at you. A concept I’m sure that would be far too frightening for Mr. Right to consider. Besides the drama of his very public entanglements in Atlanta, those walls of rightness cost him love and human closeness. He can subsist on the adulation his status as a public figure allows him. But how satisfying is that at the end of a hard day?

On a personal level, being right kills love. On a larger level, it kills people. Think about it. Every war that’s ever fought has been fought because one or both parties were absolutely convinced they were right and the other side was wrong. What would happen if we all sat down and considered the other guy’s side?

I recognize that this too is an exercise in my being right about what happened and how one should behave but then, I’m a writer. The point of writing is to share a point of view. The important thing is to use your powers of persuasion for good. Or at least make people laugh.

As usual, I don’t regret a thing. That misstep reminded me of a very important lesson I learned all too recently: you can either be committed to being right or being love, but not both. I’ll take love.

Oh yeah, and Mr. Right didn’t think much of his mother. Never trust a guy who doesn’t like his mother. You might end up watching Fox News.

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Blogger greg said...

I thought ever war that was ever fought was because somewhere - deep down - jews were involved...
at least that's what Mel said...

I love reading your blog. Forgot how I found it - but I stop by everyday. It is beautiful and poetic and always puts me in a mind to think.



7:42 AM  

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