I have this friend who really pisses me off because he might be a genius, but is also a huge idiot. Not like Rain Man where you can tell that he has a mental disconnect, but is subtly and surprisingly stupid. At first I thought it was a social quirk and it was kind of endearing.
He always wanted to talk about philosophical things and get into deep discussions. It sometimes frustrated me because I felt that he could never really see anything from my perspective. In the spirit of well rounded argument I always try to see things from the vantage point of who I’m talking with, whether it is directly next to me and a few feet higher or if it is on the opposite side of the issue we are staring at. We would get into these discussions and before we had even got to the heart of an issue I would throw up my hands and say, “maybe I just don’t get it then,” because I was so sick of describing that from down here I can see that the beast has gills all the while he is insisting that it is purely a land animal because of the way its nose is shaped. (That may have been a leap but I’m betting you got it.)
Any way, once opposition from my side had dried up he would make up things to talk about. Not even fictional things or shallow things, but ideas that came straight from LSD combined with Tim Burton and found their way into his odd little brain. I laughed at these things at first, not because it was particularly funny, (I generally don’t hold with silliness for the sake of silliness, I believe that silliness should come from a place of genuine joy, other than that it’s just noise.) but because I thought he was trying to relieve some pressure. He wasn’t, he often wanted to carry on these conversations. It was like trying to stand on the top of an oil slicked pyramid.
I realize that it takes all kinds of people to make a world. Like I said, he is my friend and he is probably a genius. He will be a famous writer before I make it out of my 20’s. I won’t tell you how close that is. But I finally figured out why these things frustrated me so much.
He is selfish. To his very core. He would not be able to diagnose this in himself and even if I pointed out every detail of his selfishness to him, he would eventually claim that it was just part of who he is and he shouldn’t try to be any different. Here is how I know he is selfish.
-His own opinion is wildly important to him. He must be heard at all costs and understood before he will even consider really hearing others.
-He doesn’t notice what is going on around him. I was having an intense conversation with a mutual friend of ours the other day and he walked in, sat down and started up a discussion on the grunge movement in the nineties because the tone he heard from the other room reminded him of some obscure opinion he once had in middle school.
Sometimes I cringe when he come into the room because I know that from here on in all discussion will be limited to what he is interested in. Does it make me a bad person that I label this “stupid?”
I know we all have our weaknesses, no one is perfect. But one thing that upsets me more than anything else is someone who isn’t aware that other people exist and have thoughts and feelings. That kind of selfishness must be stopped at a young age. Our world is already falling apart, what if we all stopped listening to one another? What if you couldn’t recognize when someone was hurting? What if you spoke every thought like it was fact?
I don’t know how to tell him. But I’m not doing the world any favors by allowing him to continue in self-centricity, and I’m not doing him any favors by letting his heart grow colder by the day.