Fuck. A New Kind of Hero. That is what the seminar was called. Fuck. i’m sorry… language…i know, but when i entered that room i began to sweat and that is what came to mind.
All women. Great. All i know about women right now is that they are pissed off. Maybe not at me personally, but men in general.
For good reason, of course, because men have been dicks. i’m not entirely sure we were all aware of just how dickish, but i am all out of excuses for us, men. We were (and maybe still are) dicks. Let’s just admit it, grow up and do better. We can. i can. And it is time. If the rage does not motivate you, then you may be beyond hope.
As i entered the room, i saw people setting up chairs. i went over to offer my help because, let’s face it, i felt helpless. My fear imagined the woman staring at me as if i had two heads. “Um, ok. We’re putting four chairs at each table.” Cool. I can do this. I imagined my guilt and shame were showing a little too much. I began to settle into a familiar place…anxiety.
I have mentioned our friends, Ed and Tricia in different blogs. When they were over the other night for dinner, Tricia mentioned a seminar…this seminar…and i bit. Shit. And i later found out my buddy Ed had mentioned it to Tricia as something he thought would be helpful for me. Thanks………..Ed. Friggin’ coward sends me in his place! Yeah.
Ok. So. Where is Tricia? Did i screw up the time? i go put my stuff on a table. In the very middle, at one end of a table. If things get nasty, i can always escape down the aisle. But i can’t sit there right now. I am beginning to feel like a cat on a hot tin roof. Anxiety. My ruthless, uncaring friend has anxiety is whispering in my ear.
You might think after being up here for five years in a small town i would know someone in the room. Did i mention the memory problems? i don’t remember meeting any of these people. Did i mention my isolating tendencies?
And then my brain begins to kick in. Breathe. Go over in the corner and lean against that cold window. That helps ground me. Now look around the room. See all the people laughing and having a great time together? They don’t look angry. And there is a guy older than me over there. He looks ok.
So i take a few more deep breaths and walk over there. Yup. Did so. Big boy pants. Jeez, i am so lame at times. Someone mentions registration. Good. Tricia registered me. Do i need a ticket or credentials or something? Yeah…i’ve been away for a while, remember?
It is just signing a piece of paper. There are too many people close to me. Sign the sheet and scurry back to my window. Oh, look the Zamboni. Squirrels also distract me.
Tricia arrives. i am relieved.
i suddenly realize Sarah has done all of these things for me for years. She has gone to the events. She has socialized and contributed to the community. And, god help me, i took it for granted. Lesson one. Back to the seminar.
Jonathan Zinck was our speaker. He is a motivational speaker, by his own description. Other than the production glitches with some of the equipment, i thought he spoke well and with a kind of personal honesty which is seldom practiced in our world today. And the seminar was lively enough, with participants chipping in, and no one even so much as said an unkind word to me.
Why am i telling you about my unreasonable fears and how they never came true? Because it has everything to do what what i learned in the seminar. Can’t speak for anyone else, but i heard something clearly i had never considered: It is not enough to stop being a dick.
i have perpetuated stereotypes all my life that i did not really believe. i made jokes because people laughed and it feels great to be popular. Sure it does. But i think a lot of my humour made some people uncomfortable. Make a comment about the waitress’ body. Your daughters are that age. i’m a dick. It needs to stop. So i can do that. i can be respectful of others and contribute to a healthy society. Lesson two. Kudos.
But then it got nasty and personal. Jonathan hammered home his point with force: i need to say something when someone else is doing these things. i need to speak up when one of my buddies says something crude. i can’t use “locker room mentality” in today’s world. It was wrong when i was in locker rooms and it is wrong today.
I have to do more than “sweep in front of my doorstep and think that is my only responsibility” or something close to that. A person who only stops acting like a dick is still, technically a dick. Just because a duck can’t quack, doesn’t mean it isn’t a duck.
My perceptions need to change. How i view others needs to change. My internal mechanisms for dealing with deep emotion need to change. And my sense of entitlement as a male heterosexual needs to change. Lots of stuff. i get it. To do otherwise, well, i might as well be this guy.
But why make me responsible for those other guys? I think i have enough to work on inside. Cut me some slack. No. Do you know why? Because i am an adult. And i have helped create these terrible perceptions. And if i stay silent, i’m still a duck. At least at heart. Quack. Quack. Quack.
If i simply say, “wow, you have a daughter that age”…”jeez, man, that’s a little much” it makes a huge difference in society. but in the locker room? Easy for me. i am old and not permitted in locker rooms for my own safety. i might slip and fall. Liabilities and all that.
But, yeah. Especially there. Especially the little “secret” places where sick men speak sick things. i know it goes on. i know because i have been there and said those things. So don’t lie about the locker room, or the back table of the bar, or the Tim’s coffee club (yes…been in that one too, guys).
The secret is out. They know. And i feel sick about it. The pain and suffering and the injury. And i hope it sickens you, as well. I think the term was “spit in their soup”…let them know it bothers you and that makes it an unpleasant experience for them. Spit in their soup. And go ahead and spit in my soup if i’m being less than human. No more of this crap.
i have not completed my Ninja training. Or my unicorn training.
i’m just saying i haven’t felt like much of a hero lately, so maybe i should be relieved there is a new kind of hero. There is a higher, nobler, more affirming way to live. i can do that. i think it is called being human. And i can be a better human.
Incidentally, if you were at the seminar and i maybe got some things wrong, feel free to speak up. Sorry, Jonathan, I take lousy notes.
Thanks for listening, i know the processing is just beginning. i’ll keep you updated. Next time…i guess we need to talk about entitlement. Sure. That’s plenty to think about for now.