Tuesday, April 2, 2024

A = !B

Just to make a connection...

In Why My Italian Food Sucks, I described the ethnic confusion I experienced in childhood:
Growing up in a 100% Sicilian neighborhood, I didn't realize I wasn't Italian until my friends started going to Catechism. It felt weird that I didn't. Was I not good enough? I asked my parents about it, and they replied (smirking at the absurdity), "We're Jewish!" This response wasn't the least bit helpful. I obviously knew I was Jewish. It didn't explain why I wasn't taking Catechism with my fellow Italians. In fact, to this day, I feel that no one has explained it adequately.

Next door there lived a very old man. Sicilian, naturally. He was dark brown (like my Russian-Jewish grandparents living in Miami Beach), and spoke with an impenetrable accent (again, like my grandparents). My sisters affectionately called him "Grandpa". Both older than me, they'd never bothered to explain that they were simply echoing the girl next door - their friend - who called him that. Me, I thought he was my third grandpa. I bought it. And kind of still do.
Why would "A" mean "Not B"? It still stumps me. It just never computed for me. I don't say this in a cute humble-brag way. It literally confuses me. I don't get it. It's horribly disorienting when people say it. 

And I previously cited this dysfunction to explain my versatility. I've had six or seven different careers, and myriad hobbies. So at least it's led to some beneficial results. Maybe this is a benign cognitive issue! Years ago, my post titled "Promiscuity" surveyed the many styles of music I played, the many cuisines I've learned to eat like a native, and styles of writing I've developed, explaining that despite my extreme polygamy (the sexy word choice is just metaphor; I'm a square in relationships), I'm resolutely dedicated to each of my many true loves:
It had never occurred to me, keeping my head down, that loving, believing in, and identifying with "A" meant not loving, believing in, and identifying with "B". And so I became benignly and unselfconsciously promiscuous. And it wasn't until years later...that I noticed I'd stumbled beyond boundaries.

It's no harder to go broad than to go deep. But it's also possible to go broad and deep. I think it's a matter of sincerity, fervency, and obliviousness.

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