The world of social media is mysterious, mystical, wildly irrational, somethings exhilarating, sometimes disturbing.
A woman named Donna wrote on one of my blog posts the other day (she has since fled) that I probably didn’t know that I was mean-spirited and intolerant at times, and added generously that I could be nice at other times.
I had written a piece about how I grieve for animals, and how somebody always gets upset when I tell the truth about it.
We live in a democracy, but there are lots of people out there – obviously – who don’t really like the idea of free speech and individual thought. We either agree with them, or we are evil, or worse.
Donna urged me to be nicer, “you are sometimes a dick Jon, please don’t be a dick.”
I have to say my first response was a smile, I was taken by the idea of urging somebody to be nice while simultaneously calling me a dick.
Irony struggles to live on social media.
I want to say that I absolutely do know that I can be mean-spirited and short-tempered at times, that’s not news to anybody.
I’m not that stupid or deluded. Donna was clearly pleased with herself, but wait up, she is hardly the first one to point it out. I bet I was the first one to point it out. It is liberating to know your least flattering traits, you can stop worrying about being exposed.
A writer worth anything will see and acknowledge the worst parts of him or herself.
People who come to my blog expecting me to be anything but human will be disappointed. I told Donna there were at least 30 million blogs in America, I’m sure could find some nice and dick-less ones.
I think she has gone off to look. I know I could not be all nice all the time to please her, after all that niceness my head would be spinning like the exorcist child.
Will people ever, I wonder, stop trying to change me or make me nicer and sweeter? I suppose not.
Even by the cowboy standards of social media, this was a new one for me. I love Dashiel Hammett Raymond Chandler and I could just imagine some dame telling Sam Spade or Philip Marlow, “you are a dick, but you can be nice sometimes.”
I can picture Monroe or Lauren Becall pulling off a line like that.
Or maybe Marlowe would turn to one of those sexy tall blonde clients and growl: “I may be a dick sweetheart, but I can be nice…” Donna didn’t stick around for the fireworks, she was nice but not tough. But the conversation spurred me into thinking of the ways in which I do honor Red when I’m not being a creep, that is.
But back to the main point. I have my own ideas about grieving, I grieved for Red over the weekend. Loss is Loss, as my friend Eve Marko says, to which I respond Life is Life.
I have to express my gratitude to the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who wrote me to say they were sorry about Red and to honor by paying the tuition of one young gifted child, buy Ipads for all of the teachers at the Bishop Magiinn school, and help buy the emergency supplies needed to make Bishop Maginn and their students safe.
That was a wonderful way to honor Red.
My life with Red was not about sorrow or loss, it was all about love, joy, and companionship. That’s where I want to go with it. I’m getting too old to be coy or dishonest, I’ve lost a taste for it.
When I wrote Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die, a book about pet grieving, I met a six-year-old girl whose beloved chicken – she used to follow the girl to school and pick her up and walk her home at the end of the day – had just died.
Everyone was consoling her, including her mother.
“I don’t feel bad, mom” she said. “I loved Henrietta so much I can’t wait to love another chicken.” This was a preternaturally wise child.
And that’s just how I feel about Red. This young woman, like me, would rather get another chicken than grieve for the lost one.
I loved Red so much and we did so much together I can’t wait to get another dog and love one again. Knowing Red as I did, I suspect the very last thing he would ever want if he could want things was for me to be grieving him past a few days, or at all.
We were just not about that. To lament his loss for weeks and months would, in my mind, dishonor the kind of work he did and the kind of good he did. I owe him more.
So as soon as I cross paths with one, and get Maria’s approval, I’ll bring him or her home. It will take a while.
Does this fall on the dick side of me or the nice side? I’m not sure, and Donna is no longer around to judge or guide me.
But for me, it’s the perfect way to honor Red. And I’ll stand happily by it.
Correction: Donna has not fled, as I thought. I couldn’t find her comment this morning, it turns out she is not only still here, but she promoted me to “disrespectful dick,” which now has me wondering what a respectful dick is, and how I might become one. My mistake, Donna, I apologize.
She was nice about it, though:
“Why on earth would you assume and announce that I fled, that I’m “no longer around”? What’s your basis for that claim? How on earth would you know if I’m reading or not reading? You clearly assume that your response was such a mic drop that all ANYONE could do is retreat in defeat, but it’s actually not the case. In case you’re curious, you’re being a completely disrespectful dick in this post.”
(And what is a mic drop?)