The Well-Placed Accidental â™®

Most of the time it’s the things that don’t fit that make a thing complete: complete in a way that redefines complete; expands the borders and refuses to allow them to be defined quite the same way—or any way—ever again.

It’s the musical note that only works if it’s one that doesn’t belong in the key. And it affects others those beside it creating intervals that couldn’t exist without it, and radiate to harmonics that don’t make sense—or shouldn’t make sense—but they do and they’re lovely and they’re magical. Or at least memorable. And isn’t that sort of the same thing?

In my current job, there was a person who worked there whose résumé and C.V. was so astoundingly comprehensive as to be nearly non-sequitur and the level of industry involved to achieve what he had implied insomnia, eidetic multisensory capabilities or a Time Turner—but it turned out he’s far too nice a bloke to be capable of stealing from Hermione Granger.

Plus? She’s fictional.

I knew when I met him he was One of Them. An Accidental. Intuited in situ by smart people who trust their own stagecraft, handicraft, mindcraft, sense of family.

I recognize this because I’m good at this myself. I spot people like this with alacrity and in the absence of contravening factors I pursue the company of these people.

It’s not about being quantifiably accomplished, like the handsome man I mention above (oh, did I mention he’s also a good-looking guy? Sickening, yeah?). There’s just a certain something that can be seen with better eyes.

Some people bring their own lighting: they walk into a room and they’re differently lit. You see them and just know. Or I see them and I just know. And I meet them I want to know more. And I continue to talk and their identity as Accidentals in whatever key the ambient groove is in is as apparent as if they were wearing name tags.

These are the people for whom there’s no conventional room in the rules, but without whom, the greatest songs would never have existed. Wisdom could be said to live in the recognition that keys can sometimes lock things down as surely as they open things up, and so allowances should be made when such just don’t fit into intended places or for intended purposes.

Accidentals. Once more, with Purpose.


you ask me how I am, expect a short and vacant answer, all generalities and no content.

If you feel like I’m dodging the real answer (which I am) and (where “and” is positively crucial) you’re ready and willing to hear the unvarnished truth, then ask again, imploringly and convincingly and do not brace yourself for the answers: prepare to receive them.

Unvarnished communication is precious thing. You don’t trap it, or look for it. You don’t feel around for it, but most of all, of course, you don’t hear it.

Measure a friend not in good times: everyone is a “friend” in a visceral Prosperity. Measure friendship not according to a label assigned: the word’s meaning has changed here, casting so wide a net it captures everyone, capturing no population that maintains any specificity. If everyone is friend, no one is: you are alone.

In the solitude, silence is companionable and nothing else is, save the darkness. So if words offered are only according to Form, empty boxes in boilerplate—a perverse Mad Lib—save the postage. Save the postage and remain silent. Silence is easy to interpret because of its blunted thrust, which is to say, no interpretation is necessary at all.

At this point I should consider it a blessing, these Madlibs condolences? There are worse reactions to someone who’s miserable and dispirited: earnest words for betterment? Yes, I have received those as well from ‘friends’ (wide nets are euphemistic) but the earnestness is misplaced: misery in its midst breaks the seal on a hermetic (both definitions apply) bubble of contentedness and false comfort and many offer condolences in order to rid the air of difficulty in Contented Land. Yes, I mean to say that I have been offered comfort directly to restore contentedness for themselves.

The braver and more candid thing—which ironically would bring me solace—would be banishment: go away until you’re better and then you can rejoin us.

Is it simply age to say that this is no longer the San Francisco I so cottoned to so many years ago? Maybe. But maybe it’s just, as they say, the company you keep. In other words, am I generalizing the City based on a small, pathetic self-serving, self-imposed ghetto?

GoB, I hope so.

The Drama Empress

A few years ago, two of my friendships—two of my strongest friendships—evaporated instantly with a little (and one very large) Poof!

I’ll say upfront, however, that one of those friendships returned, not in any onesided or dramatic way, but in rare one: one of us took the first small step and this time I wasn’t the one who made that first step. He did. Let’s call him H. Though I did not take that first chance, I returned the offer by taking a bigger chance than he did, all without giving up self-esteem and without taking any high road. Friendships mean a whole lot to me. So H. and I are friends again, but irony has it right now that he’s returned to the City after a long absence and is staying with the other former friend. Let’s call him F.

Dear GoB, I’m going to need a map. No, I’m really going to need a map.

Or maybe a history:

  • I was dating J. at the time. Before me, J. dated a guy, DP. Remember this, because it’s very important.
  • When I was dating J., I was still very good friends with H. and F.
  • They had a friend, JD.
  • Once I got to know JD somewhat, JD ssssssspoke the sssssentence that culiminated in the sssssssupernova of sssssstupidity: he told me, and I quote: If you were really my friend, you’d stop dating J.
  • Me: blank-faced & !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! & ?????????????
  • Turns out, JD had been dating DP, and someone NOT DP had told JD at DP’s party that DP was still in love with J. and would never be interested seriously in JD.

So JD asks me to stop having a relationship with J, because being around J reminded him of DP, who had wronged JD indirectly through a party guest.

Read that again. I’ll wait.

Done reading it again? Read it one more time.

Do you have a grip on how much indirection is there?

Do you have a grip on what kind of spacy, priggy git JD is?

Are you sure? Really sure?

Now, here’s how the friendships had ended, and while one can blame the misunderstadings inherent in AIM and email, ummm, no.

JD said it to me the first time in IMs: If you were really my friend, you’d stop dating J. I responded with an LOL or hehe or something. He had to be kidding, right?

He repeated it. I told him, buffered by plenty of politesse (the niceties must be observed, especially through a low-resolution medium like IMs), that he had no business asking me to do something like that.

In what I can only assume was tacit belief in the appropriateness of his request, he amped it up to demanding I stop seeing J. But JD was having none of it, and kept going and going and going with it, so I had no choice but to get more direct. And more direct. And when information was not passing at normal levels, I became blunt. I became candid. I began to deconstruct his lack of argument (so much for proving universal negatives). I began to describe what kind of sociopathic mind it would require to make an argument that he had the right to ask someone to stop seeing someone because that someone’s former someone’s party guest had shot down JD’s chances with DP because DP wasn’t ready to move on with anyone (where “anyone” would be, in this case, JD).

So the IMs had included, I swear, at least an hour’s worth of escalation, at which point it switched to emails. That first email was already quite contentious (I’m being understated), and as I was running out of words because nothing was being effective, I started to use a better-fitting, lesser-known vocabulary (translation: I was using ‘big’ words).

After probably another hour’s worth of emails back and forth, with plenty of “fuck you”s and “you’re a fucking asshole, you learning-impaired troglodyte and why-don’t-you-go-eat-some-billy-goat-ing, I get emails from F. and H. whose subjects started with “FWD:”, meaning forwarded. Meaning, the stubborn little shit had sent the entirety of the email portion of the argument to his/my friends. But here’s the key: the email chain only included the latter part of the argument, entirely omitting the part where my patience still had some wiggle room left in it.

”Why are you being so mean?” and ”You’re a horrible person for using big and nasty words against poor JD, making him feel small and stupid”.

“But…but…but…but….”, I thought. What was I supposed to do, say ’he started it’?

So there were phone calls with F. and H., and I first asked, then implored, then begged, then demanded that each permit me to offer information they hadn’t heard, the IMs part of it.

Each refused.

Only a couple of years after that fateful day was a dialog with H. started, and when we started talking, I asked of him only that he let me tell him what had started the whole thing that had turned me into such a mean, big-word-usin’ prick: “JD demanded that I stop seeing J because seeing J reminded him of how mean DP had been”, where J had nothing to say in it, never had said anything mean to JD, had stopped seeing DP long before JD started to see DP.

“I had no idea!” said H., visibly more and more shaken as I watched the wheels of his mind reconstructing the past several years.

Silence. I offered, “All I ever wanted from you and F. was that I get to tell you what started it.” That was the moment that the beautiful part of a friendship reignites. I’d said what I’d been waiting to be allowed to say. No blame. No guilt. No anything left to stand in the way of a friendship. And we’ve been friends again ever since.

Long after that day, I saw F. out and about, and there was more than just an exchange of meaningless niceties, I thought I’d have a chance to tell F. the only thing that I told H.

I emailed F., offering that it was nice to see him and that I’d thought maybe…

No response.

But at least JD still remembers to keep his distance and keep his yap shut.

Best of all, I have my friend H. back. Back in San Francisco and back in my life. That’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s certainly enough, enough for me.