- December 1st, 2012
So I read a book, which was an excellent book, called Shades of Milk and Honey, and one of my responses was the main character is So Smart, which I love, so why, at certain points in the book, is she So Dense?
There is a pattern in my life that when I ask a question, I tend to get an answer from the universe.
In this case, it was in the form of a date. I do phone customer service for a printer repair place, and occasionally I am prone to bantering, especially if the person on the line sounds like they might be open to it. So, when a man called in a problem with his copier, sounding long-suffering, I asked him if he was at least two stories up. "What?" he said. Then I recommend he push it out the window. If he wasn't, though, I suggested a large, ball-peen hammer might do the trick. He was most amused, and since I didn't have much else I needed to do, we started chatting. He turned out to have taught high school and to be working in computer forensics. Both these things, I find pretty cool.
Eventually, this led to a date.
During this date, he mentioned being able to figure out wot people wanted to hide on computers, and I said, oooh, that sounds like fun. Do you have an example. He says, yes! It's kind of long. I say, go! I like stories.
So he tells me that he is divorced, and that he and his wife had a mutual friend. Post-divorce, the friend decided to take the wife's side. He found this odd because it hadn't been that kind of divorce. Apparently, though, he got all kinds of "crazy" lectures from her, and at one point, well after the divorce, she started insisting that he had a girlfriend. No, he said. I do not. And he wanted to know where she'd heard it, because he likes to know why things are. She would not say.
"What does this have to do with your computer tricks?" I asked. He explained. He got her to send him a text message which crashed her iPhone, and allowed him to run code that downloaded all her text messages and emailed them to his email address. Then he read through all her private text messages and verified that indeed, no one had told her that he was dating, so he concluded that she had made it up. I asked, how do you know she didn't talk or something? He said, she was a texter.
What I did not do was go, "That is fucking creepy, and I am leaving."
Only later, as I was trying to relate this story as an Amusing Anecdote, did it occur to me how completely, utterly, and unquestionably fucked up a story it was. He did What?
It wasn't even on my radar, beyond a vague flicker of 'that is a strange way to behave'. I was exhausted, true; I had only had three hours of sleep, and I was distracted with many other things. I was trying hard to be agreeable and friendly, because I do try to do that in conversation, and in doing so, I missed the point. I missed the point that was not subtle at all, that would have been obvious to anyone who was not trying to be nice and friendly so hard. I was So Dense.
In Shades of Milk and Honey, the main character had even more social pressure to be nice and agreeable. She believed in it more than I thought I did. The perceptual block that goes with some forms of social behavior is really quite shocking, and scary.