The Rap

My brother and I had a short but vocal conversation on the idea of having a “rap” on us. Lemme ‘splain.

A “rap” is sort of like a “rep”, except with the added conceit that it is both negative and slightly mythical. You can have a reputation for frugality, but your rap is that you’re cheap. That sort of thing. I may have as much fascination with the idea of a “rap” as anyone, but I do find myself in a foreign country when a complaint is lodged about how unfair someone’s reputation is, because it seems to me that a person’s internal life is infinitely more complex than a person’s social life, and to be upset about perception of the former based on jokes of the latter is to make an extended slippery-slope mistake in priorities.

My brother said that the rap on him is that he’s lost perspective ever since he ended up with money. In complete denial of this, his best friend made a joke about him some fifteen years ago, that he “is the kind of guy who walks around with his pants unzipped and blames the guy who made the pants”. My brother is also the kind of person who will kick a basketball on top of a school or throw a driver into the woods or break a tennis racquet every single time we play tennis regardless of being dirt poor… if anything his maturation has given him *more* perspective not less.

And that’s the problem with your perceived rap. I am always worried about money. I don’t actually know if that’s the rap on me or not, but every single thing that happens, I have to find a way to get a deal or to scrimp to get by. I’m also married to a Jewish girl. Now, I obsess about money because I’ve chosen to make art my business, and there isn’t a lot of money in art, but if I found out that my rap was that I had gotten cheap ever since I married a Jew… you can see that would be unsettling to say the least.

But, the truth is, our raps *are* our reps. Say what you want, but none of us has earned an unfair reputation. If someone says I’m an attention whore or a drama queen or, y’know, *fat* or whatever, it isn’t that I haven’t earned it. I have.

If your friends start joking that you get drunk and belligerent at parties, you need to know that you have a problem with getting drunk and belligerent. *Especially* if it’s your friends joking about it. If you don’t want the jokes any more, then quit drinking, and if you can’t quit drinking, then you’ve got a problem, and your friends will probably help you.

One’s social circle does not get together and compare notes and come up with a series of things to mock you with. The truth is, if your friends are making fun of you, you could look at it one of two ways- either they aren’t really your friends at all, or they adore you so much that otherwise distasteful behavior is not only dealt with but it’s celebrated in the only way it can be.

And that’s the thing. I don’t have a couple of friends who think I’m really reserved and a couple of other friends who think I’m a loudmouth. They all think the same thing, my family agrees with them and guys I barely know would agree with them. There very well may be friends that blanche at the idea of having me over to meet their new girlfriend, because I am totally willing to use the word “vagina” without much thought. I can’t get upset about it, they’re right to be cautious. I actually *don’t* know when certain things are off-limits, and if you try to hint that I may have gone over the line, I’ll go *nuts* over the line.

The rap on me? I would guess the rap on me is that I want people to like me too much, that I’m desperate for attention and that I’m an incomplete faux intellectual – that I think things through only to the point of an absurd conclusion and don’t complete some of my thoughts. I think the Rap on me is that I like to talk about how hard I’m working, and probably inflate it much more than I actually work, and that I find excuses for my failures in order to lead a noble failed life.

Now, where these things aren’t true isn’t really important, because it has all been true in the past. And, the most important thing, I know what is true and what isn’t, I know what demons I have to fight and which ones I can only hope to play dead around, and this battle, even for a loudmouth show-off, is a private one. If my friends think I’m not terribly smart, the fact is they don’t think this enough to not love me and want to be around me. We all have behavior that’s distasteful, and the fact that my friends put up with mine is extraordinary.