I’ve mentioned in the past that I am an extrovert and over the past month I’ve been able to meet up with four of the authors and commenters that travel in the same blogging circles. This brings my total face-to-face encounters to seven, and I am very glad to report that I enjoyed them all, and I look forward to seeing them all again, and to meeting more people as they allow.
Of these recent conversations, one small off-hand comment by me during dinner and the reply to it lingered more than the others; especially in light of some recent kerfuffles. I had said off-handedly, in the course of a larger point, “I don’t want people to like Cane Caldo.” to which it was replied, “Hmm, interesting.”
I didn’t mean it is my preference for others to dislike my online personae, but that I am very conscious of the fact that the Internet is an unavoidable world of masks. We may shout solidarity or whisper truths about ourselves to one another, but we should not fall in love with the masks. That goes double for oneself. All of which brings up the question of exactly how masked am I?
Good question. I’m probably the last person who should try to answer it, but I can relate a story.
Last year a friend of mine threw a party. All of us have been close since high school, and so we happily attended and enjoyed the chance to reconnect while our wives giggled and our children played. All of us men smoke, and so we spent most of the time on the back porch smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, poking fun at each other and laughing.
The kids–about ten of them–were outside with us. There was a trampoline. They jumped and tussled and laughed and cried and got over it when we made sure they weren’t injured and told them to get over it. Sometimes a mom would come out to furrow her brow and find out what was going on. And we’d laugh and tell her to get over it, too, and so they all got over everything and the kids would go back to play and the wives would go back to their fun.
The sun was on the horizon and and we had just assuaged hurt feelings and staved off bitterness. There were no women in earshot, and the children were in oblivious play. My friend, a military vet for almost two decades said, suddenly serious, “I just want to thank you guys for showing me how to be a man.” We protested, but he wouldn’t have it. He talked about growing up without a father, and–a year younger than us–about how he took to us as older brothers. And we are brothers, and we had been young together.
Because the laughter of men is catnip to women, they would occasionally come outside and hang around; just being pretty and waiting for an entrance to the conversation. Then, after a bit, they’d go back inside and rejoin the wives. They wanted to belong to the laughing men, and that is good because they do. But bubbling up from under that goodness was something else, and that was the desire of our wives to be the center of the laughing men. That is not good, as you’ll see.
It was dark, and some had drank a bit too much beer. We were still on the back porch, but the kids had moved inside to the toys, and the wives had come outside to us. One man’s wife could no longer withstand the desire to be the center of our attentions, and so it happened. She went inside and came back with a box. She said, “You guys are going to love this game.”
Everyone but my wife and I knew what it was, and the rest of them smirked and giggled nervously. I asked, “What’s it called?”
She beamed. “Card’s Against Humanity. It’s a party game with topics that are just stupid, or kinda mean, or kinda gross, or whatever.”
“Gotcha. That doesn’t sound like a good idea.”
“No, it’s really fun.”
“Ok. It still sounds like a bad idea. It sounds like the game is to make everyone feel awkward.”
Then, to prove it was fun, she read off one of the Cards Against Humanity in front of me, my wife, my friends, their wives, and even my adult daughter. I don’t remember what she said except that it had the word “cum” in it. My wife and daughter looked at the ground and immediately began for the safety of house.
“That’s enough.”, I barked.
Her grin faded and she began to protest. “No, it’s just funny–“
“It’s not funny. It’s embarrassing. If you want things to get awkward, then I can make it awkward.”
Silence. She bowed her head, slipped the card back into the case, and went inside. Our host pulled me aside and said, “Man, I want to apologize. I knew what it was and I should have said no. I guess I just…” He trailed off. He didn’t know what to do because it wasn’t his wife.
“It’s over now. I know that everywhere else she goes people would love her for bringing up that game; even other Christians. They don’t think it’s a big deal, and so she’s been tricked into thinking it’s acceptable because it’s “just a game”. She had no idea I’d have that reaction. I’m not mad at her. It just needed to stop.”
“Well, I’m sorry anyways. I’m glad you said something, and I wish I had. I shouldn’t allow it around my family, either.”
“Bro, we’re all learning.”
A few minutes later the woman came back out. She said she was apologizing to my wife, and then she realized that she should be apologizing to me; which she did and I forgave her. Her instincts to apologize to my wife were correct, though. I treasure my wife and kids, and her offense wasn’t against me but against my family, by extension my brothers, and by further extension my brothers’ families. If it had been just us guys when she pulled that stunt, I would only have looked at her husband with a concerned scowl and then walked off.
By the way, he was silent the whole episode.
As far as I know, everyone left on good terms. Still, it would have been much more pleasant for me and probably everyone else if that game had never come up. Then again, it wasn’t really the game’s fault, either.
(Author’s Note: Title taken from here.)
 They can choose whether or not they want to accept the infamy.