I have a friend who occasionally marvels at the fact that we are in fact, friends. She really liked The Lord of The Rings movies, and I hated how Peter Jackson raped Tolkien’s corpse on screen during Return of The King (in the back, during Legolas’s Mario Moment on the Oliphaunts, you can just see it). While I love a good Kurosawa movie, she mostly liked that I liked Yojimbo, rather than liking it for itself. She was a big fan of Game of Thrones and as you remember, I found it misogynist, overly rapey and despite what some people had told me, about as historically accurate as a Mr. Peabody cartoon. Also, too many characters suffer from To Build a Fire Syndrome, but that’s not important right now! She really didn’t like Sherlock Holmes either, but I love her anyway.
We also don’t agree on what makes good music. She favors things from the more industrial period of the 90s, while I’ve been known to spend a whole day listening to jazz and Celtic music. We don’t actually spit on each other’s choices of music, but we tend to be attracted to different kinds. I think we might find common ground on Jack Off Jill, but I’ve never really discussed it with her. At some point, I probably should.
That’s not the point though. The point is that we’re still friends, despite all these differences. We do have some overlaps in our interests, but there have been times when this friend has asked how she and I can be such good friends when we never seem to agree on anything. She hasn’t asked that in several years though, so either she understands how we can be friends, or she no longer cares. It did seem to bother her for a while though, particularly since she understands that art was one of only three things I actually think are important enough to take seriously. Of course, the fact that she also understood fine art helped. It’s nice that someone can sort of understand that I have a love of both Bruegel and Bosch along with Mondrian and Rothko, while kinda hating Picasso. And besides, anyone who can shoot down my joke about The Nut Gatherers and is able to look at that painting without seeing the inherent lesbianism is someone able to be my Best BFF Forever. Yes, I know, that was the joke!
So where am I going with this? No, really, where was I going? I have totally forgotten.
OH YES! I remember now… The point of that long ramble was that some six or seven years after we first met, we are still close friends. We have shared some music back and forth on occasion, we have traded some movies and even some books, but mostly we just spent time together. We’re both pretty good at listening, and at talking. We tell each other things, we enjoy one another’s company, we are friends. Despite all the interests in other things, we’re pals.
Syd and I have almost no reading material in common. Of all the hundreds of books Syd reads in a year, not one of them are ever written by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, or even Rex Stout. How does a person go around not reading Rex Stout? SRSLY! As retaliation, I don’t read any oh her books about girls with psychic connections to talking horses. And yet, we’ve been together for… I dunno, 15 years? That sounds close. No! Wait! It’s got to be 18 years. 1994-2012, that’s 18, right?
In here, we start to get in on our main point. I don’t need to like the things you like, nor do you need to like the things I like, for us to get along. We can get along without having to agree on music or paintings, or even TV shows. In fact, as the only two shows I watch with any regularity are Good Eats and Mystery Science Theater 3000, it’s probably for the best if we leave TV out of this. We don’t have to agree on movies, or food, or books, so long as we agree on being able to stand one another for more than seventeen minutes, then we can get along.
That’s how it is for me anyway. I got used to the fact that no one, not even nerds, would ever be into all the things I’m into. It’s just not ever gonna happen. Even if I did one day find a fellow Nero Wolfe fan, they would probably not share my love of cheap horror films. When I find that Cheap Cinema fan I’ve been looking for, she won’t be able to understand my physical need to sit around and watch movies where Japanese people in period dress stand around and talk at each other, sometimes for up to three hours at a time without taking out those swords and killing each other. And so on, and so forth, and it goes on like this too.
Thing is, that’s a good thing in my mind. Yes, there is more here though, than simply accepting that nobody likes the things I like. There is actually elation to be had here. If you’re not into the things I like, there is a possibility that you’ve never tried them. Actually, in my case, there is the distinct probability you’ve never tried at least three of the things I list as my ten favorites. Most people have never listened to Blues Traveler, Prince, Acoustic Alchemy AND Nightnoise. I’ll find something new to you and give you an album to listen to. Just as likely, no matter how wide my musical net has been cast, no matter how many things I’ve heard, there is very likely some band you like that I’ve never been exposed to. I’ve been listening to Alesana lately, because a young friend gave me a couple of their CDs. I’m not going to become their biggest fan, in fact I should be waving my cane and demanding they get offa mah lahn, but I can admit that there is something there. These young troubadours are not entirely without merit.
I like being introduced to new and interesting things, and I like being able to share interests with people. One of the nice things about having a friend who is into, for example, French Action Films, is that they can tell you which ones to watch. They can also tell you which ones best exemplify the genre, which ones to avoid, and which ones are the best even though they’re transgressive. Often, the best movies in a genre are the ones that transgress the rules. If you’ve never listen to Punk, a pal who knows which bands rock the hardest can be a great guide.
The other part of this though, is that even if I don’t actually like your music, choice of movie, or books, I can still like to watch you enjoying them. There are few joys so great as watching someone’s eyes light up when they talk about their favorite band/movie/book/work of art. Particularly if you’re interested in pursuing a relationship with that person, you can tell pretty quickly if you’re going to like them depending on how they talk about such a thing. If you want to know what reaction to have, I love excitement and delight over superiority and hipsterness. The reason I gave Alesana a chance was that the girl in question was so dazzled by her love for this band that I figured I just HAD to see what the fuss was about. Her enthusiasm carried me along far enough to give them a fair shake. After all, even if you’re hating the band, you can like just being with the person who enjoys it. You can even start to see the merit in the thing that brings your friend such pleasure. This is about me liking you, being with you, wanting to see you happy. If I really love you, and of course I do, then my main interest will be wanting to see you enjoy yourself. That will often turn the tide, and bring me at least an appreciation of this thing I don’t get right now.
tl,dr – Sometimes, you really can love something enough for both of us.
I was going to say that a little while ago I talked about internet crushes being like Courtly Love in this post. Except I can’t, because it wasn’t a little while ago. It was almost two years ago. The idea keeps coming back to me though, because it’s the closest analogue I can find for the fact that we feel very close to people we’ve never met and may never meet. We see pictures, so we can speak of beauty and for a given value, we do have actual relationships with them.
Of course, we can’t touch, in many cases we can’t even really talk to each other, which is why the courtly idea keeps coming back to me. I won’t pretend that this is some ideal love, or anything like a superior love, those concepts were injected to make people think not acting was more satisfying than actually acting. The thought being that the idea of consummation was even more fun than actual consummation, which is foolish if you’ve ever actually had an orgasm. However, it does seem that by studying the Courtly Love rules and regulations, we can sort of find ways to cope with things like crushing over vast distances.
I keep thinking the internet is like having a person you’re deeply hot for being in the same court, only instead of decorum you have the fact that the object of your affection lives in another city, state, country or even on another continent. It’s not an exact metaphor, because the people in the court could slip off for half an hour when no one was looking and do the business behind the tapestries. Where as all we have is cyber and webcams, and neither of those are nearly as much fun.
So, what I’m wondering is does anyone else see what I’m talking about here? Do we agree? Every time I think about this subject, I feel like I’m missing some crucial piece of the puzzle. Like there’s something that need to be said about this, but I don’t quite know what it actually is yet. There is something about poly in there too, but I’m not sure quite how to phrase it.