Saturday, January 28, 2006

Good sports and why my circle is small

I love to raz people I consider friends, and not because it makes me feel better about myself. Mostly, I just assume those who hang around me assume the world is absurd, and blowing personal characteristics out of proportion for comic effect is sort of like my contribution to absurdity.

This is important to remember as I have run with a caricature of Dan first instigated by Jared. I can't quite recall Jared's reference verbatim, but it the insinuation was Dan was a modern day John the Baptist, in reference to his consistently challenging posts on the modern state of the church.

Now, I've never met Dan, but we've exchanged some good natured ribbing since we have a very similar background. I've taken for granted that Dan understands my continued reference to his caricature is out of appreciation for what he does rather than an attempt to belittle his work. His blog should be valued by anyone who loves the Church.

Walking this line can be precarious and I sometimes don't know when to pull back. Take, for example, my friend Bob, who I tortured (out of love) for years. Bob is a friend of mine from college who, when he contacted me about getting a job at the Republic, I more or less pushed him into a desk on my floor. It was an easy match since he was more than qualified.

Now, Bob is a unique guy, the kind where people who don't take time to get to know him will make wrong assumptions about him. I know Bob very well, but he worked the night shift and a lot of people on the day shift asked me a lot of questions about him. He's kind of quiet, unless he gets angry with his computer. Then he has a whole array of profanities at his disposal with which to curse the machine to ... this place.

Bob is also of mixed race -- half Caucasian, half Asian -- of which he is comfortable with until someone asks if he's Filipino. That irritates him. Needless to say, I took note of that. It's fun to aggravate Bob because he's forgiving and he (usually) remembers I think he's the bomb.

So in the several years Bob and I shared the same work floor I spread rumors to the day shift that Bob:

  • Was a ninja
  • Was a member of a militia under investigation by the ATF
  • Was waiting on delivery of a Russian mail-order bride
  • Was really Filipino, not Thai

    What made these rumors particularly devious was that Bob was into martial arts and the accompanying weapons, proudly owned at least one gun, and joked many times about buying a Russian mail-order bride. I just took his own characteristics and turned them into something absurd.

    It took Bob several years to clear up with everyone on the floor that he was not Filipino. Not that it mattered except he's really proud of his Thai heritage. It was just funny to me to watch him unravel when someone said, "But I thought you were ..."

    If I thought the higher ups wouldn't get the silly nature of the rumors, I wouldn't have done this. If I thought our peers wouldn't have bought it hook, line, and sinker, I wouldn't have done this. If I thought Bob wouldn't get some kind of sick thrill (or provide me with entertainment with his agitation, however real or not), I would've never bothered him.

    I did it because he was my friend and because we shared at least one portion of a worldview that the world is absurd and people's willingness to gossip or be shocked needs to be challenged.

    Or maybe I just get bored easily and this is my way of entertaining myself. I'm still waiting for someone to turn the tables on me. Maybe this makes me off-kilter, but I think I would enjoy the right kind of mischaracterization.
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