All Cheese is Equally Flat

It is breakfast time. I am passing out slices from a 2 lb. block of cheddar while the French toast…toasts.

Mbot: “Is this flat?”

Me: “Yes, cheese is usually flat.” (The Midgets don’t yet do roundels of artisanal goat.)

Mbot: “Is it as flat as Gbot’s?”

Me: “Yes. They are equally flat.”

Long before Einstein came along, we knew everything was relative.

I almost named my Master’s thesis “Relativity” because I am fascinated by the effects of the interactions with others on self and sense of self. My mentor discouraged me. “But it’s about relatives,” I said. “Or men who I wanted to make into relatives in spite of the inappropriateness of the match.” And it’s about how I am different with everyone I meet.

This doesn’t mean I change to please them; it means that everyone taps a slightly different me. Kind of like when you pluck your eyebrows, every hair–every single one–feels different from every other hair as it’s yanked into whisker oblivion. After months and years of personal grooming via what Mbot calls “hair tongs,” my neural memory knows each follicle’s particular uniqueness. How many subtle flavors of small pain there are. It puts Baskin Robbins to shame. And I wouldn’t know any of them if I weren’t so vain. How many different versions of ourselves there are. I wouldn’t know any of them if I didn’t know others.

It seems like such an obvious observation that it should be considered a stupid one. I am ill at ease enough with strangers so that every new liaison made is a challenge met. But I like to meet new people, partly because I like to meet the me who meets them.

I ended up titling my thesis something as inscrutable as the first idea: “Something Other Than What I Could Make Myself,” from a Robert Rauschenberg quote about how the artist constructed his collages in the 1960s out of items he found on the street and in each work, the individual components took on new meaning in a new context.

It is about relativity and the influence of outside bodies and manifestations of self.

It is, of course, funny–it has to be, because laughter has a gravitational pull; it is often that force that brings people together and keeps them together.

What’s pulling at you today, shaping your self?

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