I’m genuinely and mightily amused- and have been, for a couple of days.
This is the kind of amusement that will always retain a pocket of privacy, no matter how widely and verbosely one describes it to the world. More than the public part, it is this irrevocably private fold that is sending me into paroxysm of undiluted hilarity.
There’s this lady I ‘know’ virtually. She is a blogger who writes beautifully. I mean really, truly well. So well in fact that I could consider giving up something mildly important to be able to emulate her. But since I don’t, I don’t fret it. God bless her, right?
So, about this lady.
When she burst upon the blogging world, she took it by storm. It was thrilling really. She was such a welcome addition to the gems of the blogging world and a precipitous cut above the gawd-awful NOISE. Her opinions were no hand-me-downs, they were sparkling fresh and original. Her wit reminded one of a lance; her language of mellifluous and dulcet music.
Oh, it was bliss reading her! It was… and even today… it is. And that will never change for me.
As more and more water flowed under the bridge of our interactions, I noticed her change a bit. Subtly at first then more and more, she began playing to the galley. Looking at her, one began to feel as if she constantly imagined herself in the strongest footlights. Her words showed that she a sense of disproportionate grandeur. She went over herself totally. It was a very unnerving and alarming transition to witness.
Her whole personality took on an edge. The steel which gave such a wonderful vigor to her views, began to cut through her mellowness in rampant ugliness. Its edges sharp and dangerous, it protruded most unexpectedly from her online persona. Her words went from respectfully opinionated to stridently belligerent. Her natural hesitation became a shallow and fake humility. Oh, it was unpleasant!
I have as lively a sense of self-preservation as anyone else and this new development unnerved me somewhat, I must confess. Loath to get singed, I decided to move back a few steps; to wait and watch. Things didn’t take a turn for the better, sadly enough. They became worse.
She began to pick acrimonious fights with other bloggers- the best, the most sensible. The reasons for this animosity were flimsy at best and non-existent at worst. Though I hate using cliches, the truth is, her popularity seemed to have gone to her head. For a long time, I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t bear to, it was too sad. She really is a wonderful writer.
Thankfully, we had no unpleasantness between us. If my regard for her had diluted, I kept the fact strictly to myself.
Things reached such a pass that I was always reminded of this passage whenever I thought of her:
Eve Layton believed that her mission in life was to be the vanguard–it did not matter of what. Her method had always been to take a careless leap and land triumphantly far ahead of all others. Her philosophy consisted of one sentence–“I can get away with anything.” In conversation she paraphrased it to her favorite line: “I? I’m the day after tomorrow.” She was an expert horsewoman, a racing driver, a stunt pilot, a swimming champion. When she saw that the emphasis of the day had switched to the realm of ideas, she took another leap, as she did over any ditch. She landed well in front, in the latest. Having landed, she was amazed to find that there were people who questioned her feat. Nobody had ever questioned her other achievements. She acquired an impatient anger against all those who disagreed with her political views. It was a personal issue. She had to be right, since she was the day after tomorrow.
Her husband, Mitchell Layton, hated her.
~Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
I thought of her off and on. Call it morbid curiosity. My thrifty soul was revolted to see the waste of talent. There’s no way she would enjoy enduring success with her attitude, I am certain of that.
I’m a strange fish. For me, the art only ‘connects’ deep within if the artist matches her art- like it were an extension of her person. I could no longer connect to the artist. The art, technically as sound as it always was, therefore lost its grip on me. Yet, I continued to read her. I stopped commenting though. And that’s how it remained for many moons. I don’t think she noticed my absence. She had too many people around her. Her ears must be ringing with well-deserved ballads of appreciation. I was happy for her. Honest, I was.
Whatever works for her, I thought to myself, wishing her well and keeping a prudent distance. But a niggling question remained.
Needless to say (or maybe this was just a coincidence), she stopped reading me also. That was perfectly reasonable. Since we don’t speak the same language anymore, what would be the point of her reading me anyway? Or maybe she read me without leaving proof of her visit. I’d rather believe the former though.
A few weeks ago she wrote a post which connected with me better than had all the rest, given my disconnect with their creator. In a buoyant frame of mind, I shared my own experiences on the issue in a comment. Since most blogs have a comment moderation practice, I didn’t expect the comment to show on the blog. But I had raised an issue in my comment and I looked forward to her reply.
Here, in case you are wondering, let me tell you this: my comment was not in the least offensive. If my grandma were a blogger, I could have left that comment on her blog and she would have been pretty pleased. You probably don’t realize what a big deal that is because you don’t know my grandma. Not only was she vituperatively critical, but also, alas, very dead. So you see?
But I digress, as always.
Three days later, desultorily clicking at random, I happened to see her post shared on Twitter by someone. Remembering my comment, I went to her post to see if she had replied yet.
My comment was not there. Other people’s comments were there… her replies to them all were there… mine wasn’t. When I had commented, there were only four comments- sans replies- on her blog. When I went to check again, there were over two dozen… all replied to. I decided to wait a couple of days. No dice. More and more comments appeared- complete with replies. Not mine. Hmmm.
Oh, it probably went into spam mail I thought. Happens all the time, what’s the big deal? I’ll write to her and ask.
Which was all very well theoretically. When it actually came to writing, I baulked not a little. But I loathe jumping to conclusions. It is such an undignified workout!
Steeling myself, therefore, I wrote to the lady requesting her to retrieve my comment from her spam/ junk folder. After three days, she replied to my request. She was brief and to the point. One can’t help but admire that.
Don’t want your comment on my blog. Deleted, she wrote succinctly.
Your arrogance doesn’t cheapen me.
~ Toba Beta
For the life of me I couldn’t stop myself from erupting into laughter when I read the mail.
You ought to feel affronted, I told myself sternly after the first paroxysms had subsided.No dice!
I ought to have felt mortified and insulted. I ought to have slunk about pretending the whole incident never happened instead of foolishly writing a post about it, advertising the supposed affront I couldn’t manage to feel. From the moment I read her one-lined, terse mail, I have been guffawing. The more I try to stop myself the more I’ve been giggling. It really is getting awfully silly.
I do wish, however, that there was a way I could say this to her without damaging her dignity:
Get over yourself darling!
Note: Please, do NOT ask me who the blogger is. It is irrelevant anyhow. What is important is to know that when someone behaves in a brutal and unexpected way with you, it sometimes has nothing to do with you. They are traversing their own path… which sometimes compels them to step on your toes. Don’t take it personally. Just withdraw when you see them approaching. It is your job to protect your toes, not theirs. And if they DO step on your toes, rub them a little, laugh at the whole silly situation and move on. Get Over Yourself! The world isn’t out to prosecute you. It hasn’t the time.