The other day I was talking to an acquaintance who mentioned that he was almost finished my latest book (Spy In The Sky). He said he was enjoying it just like he had the previous ones; but then he added, “You always seem like such a nice person, and then I’m reading your books with all that sex and violence…” He trailed off.
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
I guess it’s good to be seen as a nice person; although ‘you seem like a nice person’ is a very different statement than ‘you are a nice person’. But that unfinished sentence sounded a lot like it might be completed by, “…and then I realized you’re actually just a scary pervert, gotta-go-goodbye-don’t-call-me!”
Come to think of it, he didn’t stick around long after saying that, either. Hmmm.
I generally keep a tight rein on my dirty mind and potty mouth when I’m in public because I don’t like to upset people unnecessarily. But then new acquaintances think that’s what I’m really like; and nothing could be further from the truth.
I mean, I like to think I am basically a nice person: I try to be kind and patient, I offer a helping hand and a listening ear wherever needed, I donate and volunteer, and I’ve never once eaten a kitten or puppy for breakfast. Or any other meal (or snack).
But when the wrench slips off the bolt and my knuckles hit solid steel at high velocity, nobody would ever call me ‘nice’. ‘Shockingly vulgar and potentially violent’, maybe.
So that’s my dilemma: Is it better to horrify and repel new acquaintances by letting it all hang out right off the bat? (That’s ‘letting it hang out’ in the linguistic sense, not the physical – I do have some boundaries.) Or should I lull people into a false sense of security, only to shock the shit out of them later?
I’ll let the philosophers decide…
Update: I’ve known this acquaintance for a while, and he has an offbeat sense of humour. He was teasing, and I thought the whole thing was funny. I meant this post to be funny, too; but realized afterward that it might be misconstrued. I hope nobody was upset; and if so, I’m very sorry. I should have mentioned that I was chuckling while I wrote this! 🙂