Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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Youthful indiscretion

Paul was a friend of a friend. Once, when we were both hanging out at our mutual friend’s house, Paul approached me with a question. He wanted my opinion on a piece of music he’d brought along. He popped a cassette into his portable player and hit the Play button.

Well, an honest question deserves an honest answer. I gave Paul my opinion – that it was unlistenable crap, devoid of any refinement. The musicians sounded like they were wailing away on their instruments far more for their own amusement than their audience’s. Melody was undetectable, lyrics were unintelligible, and rhythm was inconsistent. It was an assault on the eardrums that scarcely deserved to be called music. I said all of that and more, ranting in that vein for a couple minutes while Paul sat listening, taking it all in.

When I was finished, I asked what band we’d been listening to. “Oh, that was me playing with my band,” came Paul’s almost sheepish reply. A pause then hung in the air. I could scarcely take back what I’d said. The best I could do was point out that I would never have said anything so insensitive had I known I was talking to one of the musicians responsible. It was my one card to play at that moment – a feeble attempt on my part to turn some of the responsibility for my tirade back onto Paul. He was actually pretty calm and balanced in his reaction. While he certainly would have preferred me to have enjoyed the music, he also realized that he’d kind of ambushed me and given me a forum in which to recklessly shoot my mouth off, which he found highly amusing. It is also fair to point out that I was all of 21 when this exchange occurred. If you think I have a lot to learn now – believe me, I had even more to learn when I was 21!

In succeeding years, I have tried to temper my forays into reckless arrogance with a little more awareness of others’ feelings. I’ve also tried to remember that opinions, including my own, are often worth whatever one paid for them, and that the gulf between opinion and fact is a wide stretch of deep water. The most positive thing Paul had to take away from it was that he proceeded to spend the next ten years bringing it up whenever he felt compelled to take a dig at me. That’s OK. I had that one coming!

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