I let Oz read my first few blogs. It’s nice, for a change, to have his focused attention on what I have to say.

“This is very pretty,” he says. “It’s like a short story. But I don’t think it’s a blog.”

I try not to get defensive: Oz can think inside the box and outside the box, and then he can flatten the box and turn it into a cardboard-origami-crane. So I value his feedback.

“Why not?”

“Isn’t a blog where you say how you feel and don’t care about punctuation marks and split infinitives?”

“But I do care!”

He shakes his head and says I’m playing it “too safe.”

“Where is “the raw, funny, real woman who goes ballistic in the kitchen at night?” he demands.  “The one who yells, ‘Go get tofu. Now.

“But that’s my private side; not my public!”

Out in the “real world, I’m like one of those Cephalopods who can change colors and patterns and textures, lying very flat and still to avoid detection. If someone speaks to me, I can respond—even carry on a normal conversation—but the content is neutral and the tone amorphous. And then I squirt a confusing cloud of ink and escape through jet propulsion.

But in private, with friends and family, and particularly with Oz, I can be as loud and dark, vehement and cutting, heartfelt and earnest as I’m feeling in the moment. He doesn’t judge me. He knows I’m a good person—I just need a little release.

“Do you want to be an activist or a writer?” Oz asks.

“I’m not an activist! You know that. I have my convictions, but this isn’t a…a…platform!”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t think I should be telling anyone how they ‘ought’ to live! That’s not me at all. That’s you.”

Oz doesn’t need to write a blog; he lives one. He tells people, point-blank, that they should be “water-boarded” for going to Sea World. “Executed” for feeding their kids fast food. “Put to sleep” for letting themselves getting fat and complacent in middle age.

Most people can’t get away with that. But he has a gruff, disarming manner and a foreign accent that everyone thinks is charming.

Isn’t it refreshing when someone insults you, right to your face? It’s so European!

The other night he went to a surprise party and told the recipient (in a loud, aggrieved voice), “I haven’t been to an adult birthday party in thirty years, but your wife painted such a pathetic picture of you that I had to come and see for myself. You Big Baby! I wouldn’t have bothered if I’d known you had any friends!”

And people loved it. They lapped it up like ganache.

Oz stares at me. “What I mean is, are you writing for the hell of it, or do you have something to say?”

“I have something to say,” I decide. “I just don’t want to alienate people.”

“If you’re a loner, then why do you care?”

Why? Because I am a middle child, a “good girl,” a designated pleaser, appeaser, and peacemaker. I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings or piss them off. I don’t want to be rejected.

“I don’t know,” I sigh. “I just don’t want a bunch of haters on my ass!”

“Who’s going to hate you? A bunch of jerks who drink chocolate milk?”

I laugh loudly. As usual, he’s funny and has got a point. But in the end, we each have to be true to our own nature.

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish_1_(PSF)

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One thought on “Public/Private

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