Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Perceive This!

Perception's a funny thing.

The other day I was visiting a friend and the topic of politics came up – as it inevitably does when I'm involved. And she said she didn't want to talk about it. No. Nope. Nada. No politics.

“I know you hate Obama and I just don't want to talk about it,” she said … or something to that extent.

“I don't like any of them,” I reminded her.

This was no consolation and the topic of politics was quickly dropped. Although, if memory serves me correct, she started it.

Funny thing is, I don't hate Obama. I've yet to be impressed, but I have no hatred for the man. But this was my friend's perception. And for her that perception was reality.

I'm always intrigued when I run into someone and they assume they “know” me based on what they heard on the radio or what they've read in this column. They assume that since I'm anti-war that also means I'm anti-gun. Or that since I was not a George W. Bush fan that means I voted for John Kerry. Neither of those cases are true.

I get out a lot. I talk to a lot of people. I run into a lot of the same people over and over, but almost daily, I run into someone new. Someone that “knows” me who I've never met before. Of course, this puts me at a huge disadvantage. I don't even know their name and they think they've got me pegged.

There's a new show starting on CBS starring famous people pretending not to be themselves, called, “I get that a lot.” Apparently, people tell the stars they look just like themselves and the stars play it off. A preview I saw for it the other day showed Rachel Ray saying she found Rachel Ray “a bit too chipper.” It reminded me of a similar experience I had a few years ago.

A woman had come into Papa Leos in Lockport where I had been – and continue to – work part-time. I waited on her at the counter. She says to me, “you sound a lot like that guy on the radio.”

“I get that a lot,” I told her, deciding it might be fun to play with her, I rolled my eyes and say, “I hate that guy. He's a jerk.”

“Oh, I know. I agree,” she returns.

Um. Yeah. Where to go from there? I got her her food and wished her a good day, having a good laugh at my own expense as she left.

It was refreshing, though, to get an unvarnished view of yourself from someone else's perspective. Kind of like Tom Sawyer attending his own funeral and finding out what Becky Thatcher really thinks of him.

Fortunately, I didn't have to pretend to be dead to do it. And I didn't fall from the rafters only to have Becky take it all back and beat me to a pulp.

See, I have my own perception, too. And my own perception of what people's perceptions are. I tend to think that most people think like the woman I met at Papa Leo's. (“I hate that guy. He's a jerk.”) So I'm often confounded at the plethora “attaboys” I get.

But please, feel free to continue to confound me with “attaboys” … and I'll work on changing the perception of my friends who think they can't talk politics with me.
I'm not that big of a jerk, after all.