This happened yesterday. We were sitting alone in the car together while Michael and his mother were in a store buying curtains. I had just told David about an article I read where a guy had a brain injury followed by a stroke and woke up gay — flamboyantly gay — though he had never been interested in men before. He even became a hairdresser! And David had said, “Nope. Didn’t happen” and I was like “Yes, it did” and he said, “No, it couldn’t happen, he must have been gay before” and round and round and round we went.
ME: You know, David, it really upsets me when I tell you something and you just dismiss it out of hand. Frankly, that kind of behavior is insulting.
DAVID: You have a right to feel upset, but also you have to understand that I don’t care.
ME: But I’m supposed to talk about my feelings, and I’m telling you, I feel belittled and ignored.
DAVID: But I’m entitled to my feelings too, aren’t I?
ME: You don’t have any feelings! You just said you don’t care!
ME: I’m sure you know that strokes and brain injuries can cause radical personality changes. Look, why don’t you believe the story?
DAVID: Because it’s not part of my life experience.
ME: Do you believe the Holocaust happened? That’s not part of your life experience.
DAVID: Yes, it is. I was born in the forties.
ME: *exasperated sigh* Fine, do you believe the Armenian genocide happened? That was in the nineteen-teens.
DAVID: Of course I believe it happened.
ME: How can you believe that? It’s not part of your life experience.
DAVID: Because it’s recorded history, that’s why.
ME: *mentally screaming in frustration*
DAVID: We’re just going to have to agree to disagree about that guy. You have your version of reality, and I have mine. In your version, his brain problems caused him to become gay; in my version, it didn’t.
ME: But there’s an objective truth OUTSIDE our versions of reality — and — *sighs again* Even if you don’t believe it, you can come up with a less insulting way to put it than just “Nope, didn’t happen.” You could say something like, “I have a hard time believing that” and then we could discuss it.
At this point, Michael and his mother returned and interrupted the conversation before I could strangle his father.
Contrary to what this conversation — which is very much like many conversations I’ve had with David — indicates, David isn’t really an a-hole. He adores me and I consider him to be a very good friend. He just has no social skills and serious boundary issues, and he no longer cares because he’s 68 years old. Rarely does a day with him go by where I don’t at some point want to start beating him with his own crutches.