Tuesday, 7 August 2007

does Honesty still have a perm?

Today's topics are honesty (also a song title, and the name of a girl in my third-year sociology seminar -- and, I think, a plant) and credulity (none of these -- and you can see why. Who'd name their kid Credulity?) and laziness. I remember long ago (back around third year, come to think of it) hearing about a set of conjoined twins who were attached at the head. I'd never heard of such a thing before, and my first response was to say, No way. They must be kidding, I said to my roommate. You misheard, I said. An urban myth, I said, like the alligators in the sewers or the serial murderer calling from inside the house. My roommate shrugged and said that he'd believed the story. Why would they lie? he asked. I don't know -- because they're liars, I said. Too lazy to invent something convincing. And you're too lazy to doubt them.

Of course I was wrong -- in more than one way. The twins did exist; and I was the lazy one. I doubted because that was the easy route. I'd never heard of twins joined at the head, and the picture looked odd, so I didn't buy it. Credulity would have been more difficult. It would have required an active imagination, and my imagination was inside watching TV.

I am indeed a lazy person, mentally. Or maybe self-absorbed describes me better. (Let me contemplate myself for a while, and get back to you.) I think: That's what I'd do, or That's how I'd feel, and proceed on that route, credulously assuming that others act and feel as I do. When people at parties tell me that they will get back to me, I believe them. I have to go now, but we'll get together soon, they say. We'll have a drink. We'll have lunch. We'll hang. Right on, I say. Here my credulity is the lazy act -- I am assuming that these (poor bored) souls are eager to get back in touch with me, because I'd be. Doubt would require me to get outside myself -- again, way too active for my imagination, which is taking a nap on the couch.

I don't watch tennis often, but the other day my daughter and I flipped past a Serena Williams match as they were flashing her height and weight across the screen. And I said, Hey, look at that! She's got my build. And I was puzzled. Because of course she doesn't have my build. We're both 5 foot 10 and 150 pounds, and essentially healthy humans with full heads of hair, and the resemblance stops there. Look at her crammed into that suit, I said. Look at those muscles, like coiled springs. Look at all there is of her. How come I look like me, and she looks like her, and we're the same height and weight? I didn't get it. Maybe the clingy suit emphasized bulk? Maybe the muscle-fat ratio was different? Maybe TV added ten pounds? I felt like Ptolemy trying to explain the universe. And then my daughter did a Copernicus. Maybe she's lying, Dad, she said.

Oh. Didn't occur to me. I am going to have to get my imagination outside more often. Go on long walks. Maybe do a workout.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, I am almost 100% in agreement with you