Subtlety Will Get You Nowhere

Late Sunday night, I was in the grocery store fulfilling my long overdue need for groceries. I picked up the usual items, six parts breakfast, two parts dinner, and milk to replace the half gallon that lay rotting in my fridge. Of course, Sunday night at about ten o' clock is when all the lazy bums just like me go to do their shopping and I was in line there for about 10 minutes. When I had finally checked out, the girl bagging my groceries looked at me for a few seconds and then finally pointed at me.

When I got home later, I told Christina about the brief exchange and then said I hoped the girl had gotten it and not stood there thinking what a jerk I was for just ignoring her question. Subtlety, for all it's greatness, is nearly always useless when talking to just about everyone. I've thought perhaps I'mtoo subtle, maybe that's why they never seem to get it. That raises the question of what's the right amount then, should I be throwing big giant hints? I want them to get it in a minute and then smile, not be led to the answer. I make it pretty obvious anyway. I smiled and raised my eyebrows for god's sake! Should I have winked? No way, not to this girl. The wink is too dangerous.

One time, while getting off the freeway, I saw a cute girl making a left in front of me. My friend Missy was sitting in the passenger seat at the time but didn't notice what was about to transpire. The cute girl making the left glanced over at me for more than the usual brief instant. Seizing the opportunity, I winked and smilled. Then from the middle of her car door I see a slender hand pop up, extending it's middle finger exclaiming: "fuck off, creep!" I immediately burst into laughter. So you see, the wink is too much.

I've always loved subtlety though. When it works, it really works. I am always so happy when it takes me just those few extra seconds to realize what's going on. Especially if it was already funny and then it gets funnier. It seems that every time I try to use it though, it backfires. I don't mean that people don't think it's funny either, I mean that people believe me. Telling a believable lie while trying to drop little hints that I am, in fact, lying my ass off usually ends up in me just lying, not because I meant to decive but because the person I'm talking to refuses to see through what I'm saying. I guess it's not entirely their fault. Every "really!?" I get is met with a sarcastic "oh yeah.." followed by more details. Once I start lying about something funny, I just can't stop. Let me give you an example.

A few years ago, I was talking about how I went to France and how much fun I had there. This girl immediately pipes in: "Oh my gosh, you went to France!?" I don't know why but I couldn't resist. "Yeah, I lived there." Now come on. I lived in France? It's not unbelieveable sure, but come on. I got that "really?" filled to the brim with desire to believe me. "Yeah for like two months." I said. Then she asked if I spoke perfect French, so I told her I could only speak a little. The conversation went on for another few minutes and I just kept filling in details in a more and more sarcastic way, trying to make it obvious that I hadn't lived in France. She didn't get it though. How do I know? Well just last month she and I were talking again and she said something along the lines of: "whatever dude, you're weird, with your living in France and all that."

That's just one time, sure but it keeps happening like that. In fact, this very site has a few occasions where I have said some pretty ridiculous things, only to receive questions and heartfelt emails about it to this day. I try to spell it out too, I was afraid I was being too obvious in a lot of cases. Nowadays I have to write something like: NOTE Erik is not, to my knowledge, gay. Even then, messages show up saying: "So Erik's gay?"

It comes down to one or the other. I'm being too obscure, too subtle. Or most people are dumb. I'm inclined to believe the latter, mainly because I think it's funny to keep building up the story until I'm can barely keep from laughing. Gullability isn't hard to find among the people I hang out with either though, some people believe, through the stories of another friend, that there were once trained monkeys in India that licked your butt clean before toilet paper was invented. What do you do for those people? Who says: "I'm sorry, but those butt-licking monkeys, that's a lie." That's like telling a kid there's no Santa Claus. I just can't do that.