The Babbler #2: Being liked

I grew up in a rough neighborhood where getting respect was very important to most, but not to me. Of course you want people to respect you as a person or you’ll end up like K-Fed and your only alternative is to ride all the way to the bank for your 15 minutes of fame by becoming a public mockery. Mockery is fun, or fun, when you are the mocker or the audience. My thing was simply to be cool and since I’m a naturally cool person it was easy to get along with everyone. Everyone liked me, everyone except this girl named . . . actually I never knew her name but I always affectionately referred to her as Bob which she didn’t like but she looked like a Bob, not like a person named Bob, she was actually a cute girl crossed eyed, but she reminded me of a bob as an adjective, as a thing, I guess, I don’t know, I was weird even back then. She was about 12 and I was somewhere around that age as well. We were both in the same gym class but she was always around since she had a crush on my friend Charles who looked just like a monkey and who I affectionately called Darwin because of Charles Darwin’s theory that humans had evolved from monkeys. He handled this mockery great because he as well as everyone who knew me in that middle school affectionately called me fly boy because my head and face hadn’t yet caught up with my eyes. I never understood why Bob didn’t like me but every time she saw me, which was 5 days a week for the whole school year, she made it her purpose to say ‘I hate you.’ I didn’t care that she didn’t like me because most people did and nobody except Darwin liked her. Nobody really liked Darwin either because he was one of those people who believed that respect was the most important thing in life. This misconceptions comes from a historically man view of the law of the jungle or the more modern ‘American Way’, just asked the Bush clan. You disrespect me and I’ll attack your country. Being someone who had been suspended a lot for fighting I fully understood this concept of respect because the school motto was fight or get beat up which I realized that it really had nothing to do with respect because if a child from our disenfranchised neighborhood came into school mad at his life or parents or the lack there of and he needed to get something off of his chest he would just pop an unsuspecting victim beside the head. I was a victim once, but I had my own issues and found this attack as an opportunity to release my own stress. ‘Why didn’t you come to the office and tell us that he hit you instead of fighting liked an animal?’ I calmly replied ‘Because he punched me in the back of the head and it hurt and I got this dumb ass sweater on that makes me itch and . . .and the 76ers lost and I hate my foster parents and . . . and . . .’ And the Hall monitor head me in the back of my head to calm me down. I didn’t get suspended that time but was forced to see a child therapist. And therapy is where I was allowed to talk about my feelings and myself. I liked it because it is also the place where I found out that it is important to be liked no matter what Darwin or the sad and angry people in this world said. My therapist was a 30 something pale guy with unruly curly hair that he never seem to have under control, but he liked it. I know this because I once asked ‘You know that your head is about to fall off of your head?’ Mockery? No, I really thought that if a strong gush of wind came his hair would end up on the wires next to an old pair of sneakers. Okay, you’re right, mockery. He laughed and said that I had a great sense of humor and that I would become a creative person. And, then we jumped into a conversation that would change my life, or my perspective on how to survive other people, only because it formulated the thoughts that I was too young to formulate myself. He started with

‘I like my hair. Do you like your hair?’

I rubbed a hand across my low cut head and shrugged. I never thought about if I liked my hair or not.

‘You don’t know if you like your hair or not?’

‘I guess I like my hair.’

‘Why?’ He replied.

‘Um . . . I . . . I don’t know. Be . . . because it’s mine, I guess.’

‘Do you like my hair?’

Being a child growing up in foster care and group homes you had to always have a distrust of adults because everyone had heard of those horror stories of adults violating children but not me I was tough and I would fight and I responded ‘I’m not into that mister and please don’t try to fuck up my childhood because I’ll stab you.’ When I realized that I once again used profanity in front of an adult I expected to get in trouble and begin thinking on how I would convince my foster mother that the therapist was crazy and he heard the wrong word because I think he had a drinking problem but I wouldn’t have to do that because the guy laughed, which caused me to laugh. When our laughter slowed he asked ‘What do you like in the world?’

‘Peanut butter and jelly, cereal, strawberry milk, bowties, cartoons . . ..’

He cut me off with ‘So you like a lot of things?’

I shrugged. ‘I guess so.’

‘What about people?’

‘I like people, I think.’

‘Is there anyone that you hate or mad at?’

This question kind of surprised me because I never really thought about if I liked or disliked anyone. I was 12, who cared about who I liked. ‘I liked stealing from people, not people but stores.’ I don’t know why I said that, but for some reason when I felt stump by a question I would say something random and it would usually get me off the hook and the adult would say very affectionately something on the line of ‘Awww, your mother must of really been hitting the pipe heavy when she was carrying you.’ However some times I would blurb out the wrong thing like the occasion when my foster mother asked on a day where I skipped school ‘How was school today?’ ‘I didn’t smoke all of it.’ And I would get popped. ‘Well I might don’t like my foster parents’ I said. ‘Well not both of them, the pop is a fun drunk. But I really don’t dislike my foster mom she’s just mean, I guess.’ I shrugged again, ‘I don’t know.’

‘Do you think it’s important to be liked by others?’

I shrugged.

‘Sure it is.’ He said.

‘Why?’

He looked at the clock and said ‘Times up, but think about this one last thing and we’ll continue next week. If I had only one item of something you wanted and I only could give it to the person I liked between you and another guy but I didn’t like the other guy than who would I give it to?’

I was about to answer this because it was common sense, he would give it to the person he liked, but he had cut in and said ‘Save it for next week because I really want you to think about it because that is just the surface. It goes deeper.’

I couldn’t wait until the next session but when I when to the office their was another child therapist there. The curly head guy had moved to Canada or something like that. I didn’t like the new guy. He looked like Jabba The Hut and smelled of coffee and cigars and always would say that I was a bad kid. So the session didn’t go so well. And not until I became older did I really get what the curly head guy was trying to say. Because for a long time I thought he meant that if more people liked you, you could get what you want and for the most part that was true. But it’s a more fundamental and deeper theme of the human condition when it comes to the importance of being liked. Most people didn’t care about being liked, they only really thought of what or whom they liked.

Here are my thoughts on being liked: Being a writer I need readers to like my work or it will not be read much. If I didn’t like cereal I would not eat cereal. Etc. Etc. What we like is a part of what makes us who we are. Who our friends are comes from what we like as well because you will not be friends with a person you don’t like. Also our decisions are also what make us who we are and most of our decisions are based on things we liked. I would not go to school to be an accountant if I didn’t like numbers and business. The problem is that some people would and then end up in a job that they hate. It’s really a very philosophical thing.

So I realized that I was cool and got along with people when I was young and even to this day because I have a likeable personality and Darwin and Bob did not.

‘Fuck being liked.’ One would say. ‘I want to be respected.’

My answer would be ‘It’s easier to have people respect you if they liked you or liked what you did. Would Jay-Z still be so influence in pop culture for so long if there wasn’t something likeable about him? No. But does that mean if you are not liked it will keep you from becoming known? No. Because being disliked will also get you noticed. But if your disliked will people respect you? You could still be respected for your craft. But you can also become known for getting mocked, K-Fed. But your likeability depends on you; if you care about being liked or not but we all should remember the importance of being like. Or not.  Lol

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