Saturday, January 2, 2010

* You're boring me.

It was the summer of 1971. I had hitchiked from New Haven, Connecticut (Hamden, actually) to Berkeley, California in 5 days, on my way to my brother's wedding in Eugene, Oregon.

I was 27, had a beard and was wearing cut-offs, a body shirt (it's called a "wife-beater" today, probably after Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar)and I had longish auburn hair. I carried a back-pack and wore a beat-up suede vest, which I still own.

I looked the part of a hippie even though, to my eternal and then secret shame, I had voted for Richard Nixon in 1968. That was before I had witnessed the Kent State shootings (May,4, 1970).

(Longish hair, mid to late 70's:more Yale than hippie here)

I wound up staying with the very hospitable Jesuits at Berkeley for 48-hours on my hitch-hiking journey. One night I went walking in the Berkeley neighborhood.

I saw a hippie guy sitting on the front steps of a house in Berkeley, so I struck up a conversation with him.

Or, at least, that's what I thought I was doing.

About five sentences into my monologue (was I talking about hitchiking? Kent State? Whatever?) the hippie guy looked up at me from his front steps perch directly in the eye and said, "You're boring me."

I was flabbergasted.

Not by the insult, because I don't think it was intended as one, but by the honesty, the candor and the unanswerability of the statement.

I don't think anyone had ever been that direct with me before, and certainly not since.

Oh, well, there was actually a girl at Yale who said she wanted X from me (I'm too modest to spell it out) and that too was more direct than anyone had been with me. But that required an answer and possibly involvement.

The thing about the "You're boring me" was that it did not require an answer. In fact it was unanswerable since it was both honest and a dismissal.

And it was effective.

I moved on.

It was so honest that I recall it almost four decades later.

I wonder what the world would be like if people were that direct with each other?

It's almost as authentic as dog communication: sniff/bark/wag/growl.

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