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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

I don’t remember much.

I don’t remember my first word (“Heretofore”), my first home run (opposite field 385 footer off lefty submariner), or my first birthday cake (candle blown out after nonchalantly wishing for more wishes).

But what I do remember is my first bout of faux outrage, the first time my brain exploded just a little bit because the entire world seemed to have it all wrong and I, of course, had it all right.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

Sidenote o’ honesty: This story I’m about to tell is more than likely made up.  The surroundings are so clear in my mind, the dialogue so scripted, that I feel it is my duty to point out that I am probably full of crap.  Not intentionally so — like when you find yourself gorging at an all-you-can-eat buffet (not by-the-pound!), but in the literally-wrong-but-not-technically-committing-perjury sort of way that leaves me completely outside the scope of criticism.  And while I did say, “I remember it like it was yesterday,” the truth is the previous 24 hours are a bit of a blur.

As I was saying.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

The year was (probably) 1988.  I was (probably) in kindergarten.

Seen here: Non-OSHA-compliant structure

As was the case with most kindergarteners of my generation*, I was primarily interested in engaging in the ceaselessly popular, hyper-exclusive activity known to participants simply as “Blocks.”  Blocks were — and quite possibly still are — the most worthwhile experience available to a young boy.  The best blocks were — but probably are no longer — red and large and rectangular and looked like bricks (see photo).  The worst blocks, if my memory serves correctly, were any other kind of blocks. Feh!

Blocks were elite but they were certainly not without flaws.  The problem with block-playing, at least at Council Rock (“A Super School”), is that there were not very many block units (BU’s) available.  For this reason, unless you were in a large group satisfied with a hodgepodge of 3-BU (implicitly lame) constructions,  a party of two generated the highest level of happiness per party factoring in the most sensible allocation of faux brick resources.

What a bunch of Rawlsians.

One day, while fabricating what I can only assume was a replica of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, I was approached by a fellow 6-ish-year-old.

Instigator/Him: “Can I play blocks?”

Hero/Me: “No, I’m playing.”

Instigator/Him: “Come onnnnnn!  I’ll be your best friend!”

Hero/Me: [thinking]

Instigator/Him: “Pleeaaaaaaaaaaase?”

Hero/Me: “Why would that make you my best friend?”

As I pointed out above, this story probably isn’t true even though I think it is.

In any case, I do recall being confused and frustrated by the best friendship offer/threat very early in life.  Even as a youngster, I recognized that “I’ll be your best friend,” when used as an enticement, was a confused request given what I knew at the time about friendship, favors, and the relationship between the two.

Children, even when raised by loving, well-meaning parents (perhaps especially so?), eventually develop into self-obsessed pleasure-seekers so in love with themselves that they honestly believe their essence is fundamental to all that is worthwhile in the universe. And with that belief in mind, they soon develop a worldview where it is reasonable to suggest that their very existence should then be magical enough so that acquaintances ought to — for example! — drop their big red blocks in awe as they are offered an opportunity of a lifetime: a non-binding social contract of friendship!

Of course, the friendship-offeror, being that he is so wonderful and pure, still maintains his independence and is by no means limited by the  “I’ll be your best friend” arrangement.  He says nothing of your relationship to him.  He does not say “We will be best friends!”  He does not say “You’ll be my best friend!”  No.  He does nothing of the sort.

He asks for two huge favors — your blocks and your emotional energy — and offers what amounts to nothing in return.

At least you get a bottle of snake oil from the snake oil salesman.

Kindergarten is a wee bit early to be interpreting moral philosophy, but this is clearly my first (possibly made up) memory of a Kantian ethical failure.  Among other things, Immanuel Kant suggested that people ought to treat others as ends themselves rather than means to a particular end.  In the block-friendship exchange above, I was seen as an intermediary, a hurdle between the block requestor and the blocks.  Even though the exchange was framed in a friendly context, this person clearly had no interest in my friendship in a world where I did not control a collection of awesome red blocks.

Thanks for reading, peeps!  Make sure to tell some of your friends to read the bloggy, too.

I’ll be your best friend!

* I have no idea what kindergarteners do these days.  Hopefully blocks are still involved in some capacity.

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