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It’s An Age Thing

January 9, 2009
Before I go any further I should make a disclaimer, a disclaimer because I realize how it will appear that I am implying that with age comes knowledge of everything and a justification for intolerance, which is not true. It depends on the individual and how much that individual is willing to learn, especially learn from experiences, good and bad, and it also depends on what exactly isn’t being tolerated.

I find that as I grow older I have less tolerance for little trivial things that would not have bothered me when I was younger, actually trivial things that I would have taken pride in, such as memorizing telephone numbers and possibly learning Morris code for no other reason than knowing it, and yes I was proud of knowing my military alphabet, —Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu. Besides, I grew up without a bit of privacy, not a drop; therefore, I had to remember phone numbers and other such incriminating things that might be used against me. This includes the use of a journal, which probably in some psychological way affected my future as a promising writer. I mean how many writers claim to have kept a journal as a child? Almost all. Technically, I guess, one could say keeping a journal as a child is/was definitely a privilege. First, just to afford one, as in having paper and pen, is a privilege. Then it is a privilege to be able to write in one and have a private place where no one could get to it and read it; and if someone did read it, say, a parent, and that parent did not let on or use it against the child, that is another privilege. At the risk of crying woe is me, not only did we not freely have paper and writing utensils (My father worked the Sunday crossword puzzle and would hold on to one pencil at a time, using his pocket knife to sharpen it, down to the end until it was no more and if one of us dared to “steal” it for homework or whatever and not get it back to his spot before it was discovered missing, hell was paid); my mother would not have allowed a word to be written without policing it, and my brothers and sister would have gladly played KGB in order to garner brownie points when they brought the offending document to her attention.

Nevertheless, all of the above demanding and acrimonious internal dialogue came about simply because I cannot stand being presented with initials in a narrative. R said that K was going over to S’s house to pick up M, then the next thing I knew E was fighting with T and all hell broke loose. Guess what? Perhaps you don’t care, but as soon as the first initial is introduced I hit the red X. Yes I do. I’m sorry but I do. Too much effort. Call me lazy if you must; the insult will just roll off my feathers.

Trust me, I understand the need for privacy. I do, but I also know that I cannot read if my reading is hindered, thus made uncomfortable. When I read a narrative, I try with all my might to live that narrative. I must feel the narrative, I must be where T and R and X and G are acting out this story. I don’t have time or energy to participate in a game of The Wheel of Fortune. Pat, what about a Z. No Z? Impossible! I will spin again. How about an X. No? Well let me use my free spin. What about a P. Can I buy a vowel? Sheesh.

Use fictitious names if you have to. I do. The fictitious names don’t even have to be human. You can get all The Wind in the Willows and make people The Beaver, Mr. Rat, Miss Otter, and Cis-Frog, or plants, –Rose, Weed, and Daffodil. Think about all the people in your life that you want to talk about and assign them another name. Write it down or refer to older posts if you cannot remember.

If you are interested in keeping our relationship equal, a possibility on the Internet, unlike the layers that are presented to us when dealing with people in real life, such as immediately seeing sex, color, or class, and other signifiers that form a first impression, then we must actively work on creating an environment that nourishes equal effort, specifically the writer/reader ease. Now some can argue here that the writer/reader ease becomes unequal when the writer does not write to the standard of the reader, a complaint/insult I see often, and the complaint/insult is not usually from the person that has been less privileged but from the most privileged. The less privilege tends to try hard to understand, to read again, and read closer, unlike the dismissive attitude of the haughty class.

But honestly, I have to wonder why is it that you think you should not have to bother with remembering fictitious names in order to make your story move along but I have to bother with keeping up with initials in order to understand what is going on in the narrative. Unless you don’t really want anyone to read and understand what is going on.

On the other hand, as I titled, it is probably just age and possibly personal schema, because to me, using initials is too middle school. It is like reading a note passed in study hall that has been coded in case it is discovered, and I just cannot go there. Those days are gone.

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