I have a client with whom I have a relationship my boss calls “business friendship”. In the past, although it’s been a long time, she and I would cut out of work early once a month or so and catch a movie matinee, because she’s a huge movie buff. In other words, movies were to us what golf is to men in business.
It was a great thing that she was such a fan of movies, because she would watch anything. I’m not that crazy about movies; I’m only addicted to books. Those I do want to see are all over the map when it comes to subject matter, but I’m still picky. And I always got to pick. The perfect world.
I think part of the fun of movies is the post-game analysis, so to speak. “What did you think about the scene where…”, and especially in that moment when you’re exiting the theater and your impressions are fresh and haven’t had time to become intellectualized. But that never was possible with Sandy. In hindsight, and there are many hindsight moments now, it was like the movie for her went into a big black hole in her brain, never to resurface. She didn’t have a single thing to say about it afterwards. It’s as if she wasn’t so much watching the movie, as killing time. Like the movie functioned temporarily to keep her own intrusive thoughts from taking charge, but once the movie was over, it was over. Now that I think about it, that probably explains why it didn’t matter to her which movie it was.
Sandy and I both sit on the Board of a local business association. On Thursday I had a phone conversation with her that so disturbed me, on Friday morning I called one of our fellow Board members to discuss it. I picked him because he had long ago dropped hints to me about her behavior. He somehow felt that were better friends than we are, and that I might actually have some sort of influence over her, which is completely not the case.
The gist of the problem is that Sandy has completely embraced the government-is-out-to-get-us idea. If it were just a matter of being a Tea Partier, I wouldn’t be so alarmed. I mostly think the Tea Partiers are people who are scared, and there’s nothing illogical about that. But scared is a very uncomfortable feeling, so it gets flipped into anger. Somehow it’s much easier to be angry than scared. I don’t know why, but it is. I guess it’s because it gives you the illusion of having control.
Now before someone says I’m talking about the Tea Partiers as if they are all emotionally disturbed, that isn’t what I mean. I’m saying there is an emotional component to it. If we attempt to artificially divorce the emotional part from the idea part, then here’s what I would say about the ideas involved: there is no critical thinking I can see. There is no skepticism.
In our business organization, I am kind of known as the resident Liberal. Everyone knows I fought having Wal-Mart in my neighborhood; everyone knows I’m in favor of the Hometown Democracy amendment to the Florida Constitution. But they only know that because these are issues that came up in the course of our conducting our business. So there is part of the difference, perhaps.
Sandy’s attachment to the government-as-demon concept is spilling over in a completely inappropriate way. She goes into tirades, even in our general membership meetings. In one meeting, where the speaker was from the fire department, she jumped light years into a discussion about how she hates her current fire system maintenance company, because they treat her like an idiot because she’s a woman. The room got really quiet.
Now she’s at the point of sending out totally inappropriate emails to the Board. (I didn’t find this out until yesterday during my conversation with fellow Board member Tom–apparently she has excluded me from the mass propaganda email group, which shows some recognition of reality). It turns out Tom is even more worried than I am; it took a while for me to get here. But it really is clear that the political arena has become a cover for her for own personal paranoia. And neither of us still know what to do. I will think of something.
Because I’m watching a train wreck in progress.