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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Humour: Confessions of the damned

Before you bare your soul to a kindred spirit, consider the consequences

brunch Updated: Sep 08, 2019 00:15 IST
Rehana Munir
Rehana Munir
Hindustan Times
Never ever tell people you do not subscribe to reiki, crystal healing, chakra alignment, past-life regression or any other colourful system of belief that qualifies one as a bona fide person of the spirit
Never ever tell people you do not subscribe to reiki, crystal healing, chakra alignment, past-life regression or any other colourful system of belief that qualifies one as a bona fide person of the spirit(Illustration:Sunil Kumar Mallik)
         

The start of The Great Gatsby, America’s premier poor-little-rich-boy novel, features a memorable quote from narrator Nick Carraway: “Frequently I had feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering in the horizon.”

In Friends, Chandler’s confession is predictably the most shocking: he is freaked out by dogs!

Poor Nick invariably finds himself in the awkward position of part priest, part counsellor, a role many of us unwillingly occupy in the lives of our loved, or even faintly liked ones. Having found myself on both sides of the confession box – as the suffering sinner and the tormented listener – often, I’ve catalogued those deadly sins that I find test the kindness of even the gentlest souls. Here they are, those abominable traits that you should definitely never confess to, divided into five broad categories.

Pets

A Friends episode riffs off the confessions of its six central characters. Of the many ludicrous revelations (Ross doesn’t like ice cream because it hurts his teeth), Chandler’s is predictably the most shocking: he is freaked out by dogs. The episode doesn’t allow him to get away with that damning trait. And it’s getting similarly difficult for the “pet indifferent” to get by. Frequently have we feigned interest and exercised our vocal chords to emit high-pitched sounds of ecstasy so as not to be considered heartless automatons. Often have we weaselled our way out of pet-sitting favours using embarrassing excuses. And daily do we overuse laughing emojis to fake excitement over cat videos. We don’t dislike pets; we just don’t like them all equally. We need more tolerance for the pet selective, people.

Food

I actually agree with Ross. Ice cream is, in fact, too cold. Just like cheesecake is too cheesy and macarons too macarony. But epicureans have no patience for the differently-pleasured. Things have gotten so bad that I’ve stopped talking about my aversion to pies and quiches – how can one not like flaky puff pastry? Truth is, acidity and nausea aren’t sexy, so using them as reasons for food aversions wins you no sympathy. But there’s some good news. Migraine, as a (legitimate) excuse to avoid red wine, is quite a sympathy winner. Moral of the story? Never confess to plebeian ailments. In an emergency, glamorous disorders like migraine work wonders.

Culture

Here’s some more social advice: never discuss culture with the culturally inclined. They will always kill it for you. Again, I’ve been both victim and perpetrator of this phenomenon at various times. Everyone has their triggers. I, for one, take badly to someone confessing their indifference to The Beatles. In a fine display of cultural guilt exchange, Game of Throners are perennially trying to convince my ignorant tribe about its worthy mythic dimensions. Sometimes I wish we could all save our culture for dahi and get on with our lives without all the theatrics about good taste.

Travel

My first trip to London taught me something vital about travel: never tell anyone London disappointed you. There’s no recovering from that. There are some iconic destinations that have more power and goodwill than you can ever hope to stand up against. Thou shalt be judged. Do not do it. You imagined it wrong, planned it wrong, experienced it wrong. Whether it is the pyramids of Egypt or the Sydney Opera House, bear in mind before admitting your disappointment: people always side with brochures.

Spirituality

I was once asked by a well-meaning acquaintance: “Are you a seeker?” Two friends standing next to me burst into laughter as I composed a facetious reply featuring Quidditch. But never ever tell people you do not subscribe to reiki, crystal healing, chakra alignment, past-life regression or any other colourful system of belief that qualifies one as a bona fide person of the spirit. If you do, they’ll look at you alternately with pity and loathing, and then ask why you have so much anger in you. In an emergency, you may deflect their attention by telling them what you feel about (some) pets.

From HT Brunch, September 8, 2019

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First Published: Sep 07, 2019 22:23 IST