The Sardine spoke to a woman after Peter Jennings had died. She was a self-proclaimed Marxist. Her larger view saw Jennings as a pawn of a corporate media conglomerate which oppresses and suppresses the noble proletariat through the control and manipulation of information. Yet, this same Marxist could not help saying that Jennings had given a truer, better picture of the world on his ABC News Report. Similarly, this same female Marxist would speak glowingly of Oprah Winfrey.
How does such a doctrinaire thinker make room for seemingly repellent figures of capitalist, imperialist America? It helped that she perceived Jennings being sympathetic to her pet causes or, what amounts to the same, critical of a pet antagonist, like the Bush Administration. As a feminist, she could accommodate a successful woman as a model for the ideal "strong, assertive woman."
Sardine cynicism sees his friend's expedient likes and dislikes as the norm for most people. Often, our self-image veers from what we like or want to happen. We must either suppress our true feelings or rationalize these feelings with our self-image or proclaimed world view.
An earlier column talks about human beings as becoming parodies of themselves. We become stuck within the limitations of how we encounter the world. The Sardine, as a perpetual pain in the ass for the world, understands this more than most. How regretful I feel when the Logged-In Public or Frank Weathers agrees with me! At that point I can't resist turning on and eviscerating my own opinions.
The Sardine abhors the vacuum of consistency.
Various writers, commentators, and politicians of an ideological stripe feel compelled to stand with others of the same stripe. Parents stick up for their children. Spouses (when not planning to cheat on or kill the other) will make some of the worst choices of their lives standing by their man or woman.
I don't like much standing up for friends who are wrong-headed or just nincompoops. Why make excuses for them? Then, again, this shouldn't surprise anyone who knows the Sardine's feelings toward friendship.
I'm especially obnoxious when it comes to liking people my friends cannot stand. Thus, my police buddies cringe at my support for the A.C.L.U. And my literary pals feel uncomfortable when I speak up for the Catholic Church. Further, in a recent presidential election, fellow non-voters who non-voted for either candidate could not fathom my sour feelings toward their respective non-choices.
Lastly, I feel little compunction, in turn, to support those to whom I have briefly given support — like the Catholic Church, the A.C.L.U., and whoever runs for President.
No unconditional support for anyone or anything.
"What about me?" Melinda might well ask.
"What about me?" Melinda actually asked.
This is the critical area of my unwavering equivocalness. A desperately delicate balancing act. How to handle the opinions and actions of one's girlfriend, spouse, or children?
First, we can dispense with the children. Seeing very little that is lovable about other people's children, I could still grant the possibility of having uncritical views toward such creatures were they my own. However, I would enter a world of self-hatred should I ever become like the rest of the parents in the world. My mission in life, in good part, has been to prevent the possibility of having offspring. Through good luck and the pill, I have had no kids with which to offend the world.
As for Melinda, my darling, believe me when I say that you more than any other human being I accept nearly uncritically.
"But we've never had an argument."
Our not arguing is symptomatic of my fundamental disagreements with her on nearly everything. This is what is called — dare I say it — love.
"Just because I like the Rocky movies. . . ."
Wait, our tastes rarely coincide with any moves. If I remember correctly, we briefly argued over my not taking her to see Dead Poets Society.
"Now that you mention it, remember when I thought you deliberately didn't record the World Skating Championships. . . ."
The column doesn't have time to deliberate our spats.
I prefer to set up camps in the forest of the unknown. My camps cannot be mapped or retraced to their origin. They are the things, the people, the ideas, that I like today.
Bob Castle is the unveiled author of A Sardine on Vacation. Check out his bio page.