Put in a position where I must act either like a social hypocrite or a ruthless bitch without feelings, I don’t even choose the latter—I am the latter because I can’t be the former—and by the way, this convention, this use of latter and former, is so fucking pretentious, I can’t believe I’m using it. Confession: when I encounter it when reading, I always have to scrunch up my forehead, and look carefully—ok, latter refers to… ok, got it… I think… or did I screw it up? Is former before? Former’s before, right? And latter is later? Why didn’t they just say first point, second point? Or parse the sentence differently?
Anyway. My point: I don’t choose to be the ruthless bitch without feelings. I just am one.
Except, of course I’m not. Well. I can be ruthless. But ruthlessness is a characteristic that’s rooted in pretty intense emotions. For me, anyway. And acting ruthless involves looking at the intensity of those emotions… and then cutting a straight ruthless path through them… to the right thing.
The right thing, being, of course, an entirely subjective thing, so let us qualify it as… the right thing for me, the right thing as perceived by me, the important thing in that moment.
The right thing, for short.
Sometimes, I coach Flora on how to do the kind thing instead of the right thing. Because, you know, I want her to do better than me.
Flora: But don’t you think ruthless people are more efficient?
Fucking nailed it, baby. But I don’t think… efficiency… is the thing that’s supposed to make the world go round.
I’m taking lessons in social hypocrisy from a psychopath.
No, seriously. He’s been tested. Not even a borderline psychopath. We’re talking, off-the-charts scores. But, he had a really good mother, who taught him how to… fake it.
Except he doesn’t call it that. He calls it analyzing a social situation and acting appropriately.
Jane: Ok, for the last time, I don’t have that gene.
Psychopath: Neither do I. It’s a socially learned behaviour. Let’s try again.
The lessons are not going well. I think, at least in part… because I’m proud of my INability to engage in that type of behaviour. You know?
Although I do know… white lies make the world go round.
Ender has that gene. In spades.
Cinder: He’s lying!
Ender: I’m not!
He is… except in his head, he’s just saying the thing everyone wants to hear. Well, not everyone. His parents.
Cinder: Stinking little liar!
Jane: He’s not lying, sweetie, he’s just…
What? Protecting himself? Protecting me. Something like that. It’s not a bad thing, you know. As someone who doesn’t have that ability, I do appreciate it in others.
Except when I don’t.
Jane: And for fuck’s sake, next time? Just tell me—‘I don’t want to—I just really need to be alone.’ Don’t come up with excuses. False excuses have no place between friends.
Her: You’re telling me you wouldn’t have been mad if I had told you the real reason?
Jane: I would have been fucking livid. For five minutes. Then I would have moved on.
Her: You are very scary when you are livid.
Jane: I would have been livid in the privacy of my head.
Jane: I would have tried to be livid in the privacy of my head.
Jane: Ok, I would have probably freaked out at you. For five minutes. Then I would have moved on, and apologized.
Jane: What? I am really good at apologizing.
I’m just not that good at social lying.
Which is actually hilarious, because I’m really good at story telling. And you’d think the two would be related.
But they’re not.
Something else that’s ironic: the psychopath occasionally calls me a hypocrite.
Jane: What the hell? Seriously?
Psychopath: You have completely different expectations of other people than you have of yourself.
Jane: That’s not hypocrisy. That’s common sense. I’m not like other people, so of course I have different expectations of myself.
Psychopath: You might also be a narcissist.
Note to self: when a psychopath calls you a narcissist, it’s even odds whether he’s being casually analytical or coolly manipulative.
In either case, there’s only one right response.
Psychopath: OMFG, why are you crying?
Jane: Because you upset me!
See? I am not a ruthless bitch without feelings.
Jane: I’m experimenting and practicing.
You: What? Incomprehensibility?
You: OMFG, why are you crying?
Jane: Because you just don’t understand me!
PS New here? Catch up on the first three series of Postcards from Cuba. Or just browse.