“It’s disgusting,” the man in the barber’s chair said. “I wish they’d stayed in the closet.” Bob the barber agreed with him, just as he’d have agreed with him if he’d said there’s no reason a bisexual man can’t marry a nice heterosexual couple, if he can afford that sort of indulgence.
I was waiting to get my hair cut and this guy was talking non stop, but he never looked at me or at Bob. He seemed to be entranced by something down and to his left.
Down and to his left was accessing his body feelings, and he was not happy. Homosexuals made him feel the same as food poisoning. “Obama sealed his fate,” he said. And a minute later: “Progressives, that’s what they call themselves. But they’re socialists. You can call them what you want but they’re socialists.” I was afraid he’d suddenly think of a gay socialist and his head would explode and spew bile all over the shop.
He made himself sicker and sicker, and Bob just agreed with anything he said. It was another thirteen dollars, and maybe two in tip, and he’d be gone in five more minutes.
I reflected back on the previous night, my dinner conversation with Linda about a Facebook post we’d both seen, but hadn’t read. It was a link to some condemnation of President Obama, but not from somebody like this guy on the right, but from someone on the left. It escapes neither of us that if you move far enough left you cross to the far right, and vice versa.
At the extremes, people inflate. Because they are so certain of the moral superiority of their position, they expect everybody else ought to come to it. The problem, as they see it, isn’t their inflexibility and rigid attitudes, but the failure of others to be them. William Burroughs‘ describes an American businessman who, when he looks into his mirror to shave in the mornings, says, “Well, other people are different from me and I don’t really like them.”
The guy in the barber’s chair was being driven by unconscious feeling response, not by any logical structures having to do with abstract concepts, such as justice, truth, freedom, equal protection under the laws, or even the most simple law, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Gays, liberals, dykes, abortionists, socialists, are associated with the feeling, down in his gut, of something he cannot digest. It makes him want to throw up. That kind of reactivity signals that he's dealing with his own shadow material. No matter how much he hates it, his hidden past remains. No intellectual argument will change that.
If he realized that he’s poisoning himself he might stop. But he doesn’t understand projection, and that what you reject in yourself becomes shadow, unknown to you except when you see it reflect in other people. And when you see it reflect you want to kill it there, or at least hide it in darkness, as if that could reach the heart of the problem. As he doesn’t subscribe to the golden rule, he likewise doesn’t subscribe to looking after the beam in his own eye instead of the mote in his brother’s eye.
Meanwhile, Bob’s eyes are pretty straightforward because he has a razor in his hand. It’s a straight razor. This is a men’s shop, and Bob shaves around the ears. His eyes go neither up nor down. They might vibrate back and forth a little, indicating he’s hearing something inside his head. Who knows what? Maybe the Duchess’ song to the baby pig.
“Speak roughly to your little boy and beat him when he sneezes. He only does it to annoy because he knows it teases.”