Sunday, June 10, 2012

Essay on Shame #9

The Stadium of Shame: it has a grand, pompous sound to it, like something from Monty Python. The seats line the interior of my head. I'd like to get a closer look at the people in them: who are "they" in "If they knew ..."?

One of the provocations for this series of essays was a response from James to an offhand comment I made. He pointed out that it was unfair and untrue, and he was perfectly right. I spent the rest of the day moving very slowly and in small amounts, as if I were afraid to break something. It was the offhandedness that made me so ashamed -- I knew that if he hadn't called my attention to it, I would have gone on thinking it was okay. Walking around like I was a fair, kind and generous person instead of an ignorant bigot.

James didn't call me an ignorant bigot. It wasn't him in the stadium seats, or other people whose opinion of me I value -- they weren't there. It wasn't even the people I was talking about, who weren't there either, even though they might have the best right to those seats. It would be tidy to say that the stadium is filled with me, like the scene when John Malkevich goes inside his own head and everyone there is him, but I don't think it's true enough. I think the stadium is filled with people who never make mistakes -- who are always fair, always kind, always generous. Not me, but the person I pretend to be -- a stadium's worth of them.

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