Saturday, August 16, 2008


Humans in general are tribal animals.  We look to find others similar to ourselves, searching for that comfort and sense of belonging.  Gangs, high school cliques, professional associations and secret societies are all examples of our desire for safety in numbers of like minded individuals. 

Now imagine the other  end of the spectrum.  Encountering someone who is the antithesis of what you are.  Someone who resonates at an exactly opposite frequency.  I recently had the pleasure (or is it unpleasure?) of meeting that person.

Let me preface my comments with the following: he is a nice guy and I don't harbor him any ill will.  My critique of him is not so much a put down or chastising but an observation of human characteristics. 

My ideas and values of manhood stem from my father (as they usually tend to in our culture).  I absorbed them not only through his words but his actions.  For me, a man is someone who is ambitious, works hard, has strength of will and lives life with a fiery passion.  Passion is especially important.  To live a life devoid of it, is to curse yourself to a bland milk toast existence fueled by the crumbs of true experience.  When it comes to my male friends they typically fall into the "alpha male" crowd.  This stems not from a desire for macho bullshit, but because passion and aggression are normal traits of this group.  Even if opinions differ they are held with a steely determination that I can respect.

With that in mind, let me bring you to the events of several weeks ago.  While up in the Maryland area, I hung out with a friend of mine from DC.  She had been a bartender when I met her and we kept in touch after my project finished.  When she heard I was in town, we made plans to hit a reggae show and swing by a jazz club she was working at.  Before we could kick off the night's festivities, we needed to swing by her place so she could top up on food and cash.  Her apartment is a cool little spot that she shares with her boyfriend. 

I had met him once or twice before, when I first hung out with her.  He never really made an impression because there was never anything impressionable about him.  It wasn't so much that he was laid back as that he was beige.  All those times had been in public settings so there was at least a modicum of effort being made.  This time, I was delving into the lair of the beast.  No pretenses, no airs, just raw unfiltered him.  His girl played the good host while he sucked oxygen out of the room.  I tried engaging him in light conversation, but it never went anywhere.  I tried all the tricks, from picking subjects related to things he had in the home to current political events (a popular go to method in DC) to recent movies.  Eventually silence was less painful than trying to pull anything out of him.

Finally, we were ready to hit the show and on our way out.  As we're leaving he gives his girl a kiss goodbye.  I turned my head, not out of politeness (I grew up in a Hispanic household. Kissing hello and goodbye is a way of life) but out of discomfort.  What should have been a warm display of affection was instead an awkward motion done out of habit.  It lacked even an ounce of passion in its inflection.  At that very moment is when I dubbed him the "anti male".  

He existed in a polar opposite to my wavelength.  No ambition, no drive, did enough to get by, and completely without passion.  Even in the subjects that were his "favorite" there was no spark, no light in his eyes.  Living like that would be my own personal hell, a breathing functioning zombie shambling through life never truly ever tasting it.

She's been with him for a while so I hope that he reserves his passion for her in private, but if this is the way he is throughout his being then I have no idea how she endures it. 

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I love your description of him as 'beige,' it's such an on-point description! I know quite a few such 'beige' people....

Really enjoying the blog.
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