This is a post for people who like reading the stories I tell about me and my friends.
So remember Big Atheist Guy? The one from that other post?
At board game night last week, as me and Engineer were hastily cleaning up our game because the store was closing, BAG came up to Ex-Catholic and started talking to her about joining him/others for more gaming over at the diner. These gatherings, as an extension of game night, are a regular thing he does. Anyway: he had picked up on the fact that Ex-Catholic did not want to return to attending these weekly gatherings and wanted to know if it was attributable to “what happened.”
I had not been there for “what happened” last time, so I felt I couldn’t remark upon the situation, and I was mostly focused on trying to put away a million game pieces as fast as possible while their conversation grew more and more tense. Listening to them talk, however, I was able to pick up on some main details:
- Ex-Catholic does not like this guy anymore, if she ever did to begin with.
- BAG believed that social disengagement deserved an “open discussion” about it, i.e. he wanted to debate her reasons for not wanting to spend time with him. He kind of phrased some of this like a conciliatory gesture, like he was trying to clear the air, but there was no actual apology involved.
- “What happened at [restaurant name]” referred to a conversation about eugenics.
- Ex-Catholic said that what bothered her wasn’t that there was a conversation happening about eugenics so much as how BAG acted about how to have the conversation (i.e. that showing discomfort with the topic = needing to be corrected).
I may not have been there, but these things painted a pretty clear picture for me.
BAG said something about “not trying to bully her,” which prompted Ex-Catholic to point out that it didn’t matter if he was “trying” to. During the course of the conversation, I could tell she was trying to be restrained and withdrawn and keep her answers moderate and evasive, but after a certain number of replies, she eventually resorted to gasping, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
As soon as I got the opportunity, I interjected, “Hey I gotta leave now so let’s go get that thing I brought you” and hooked my arm in hers to walk her out of there, expecting to have to drag her.
She didn’t resist any, just went “Yeah let’s go,” and waited until we reached the parking lot to start ranting to me. At multiple points, though, she paused to ask if I thought she was “the bad guy” here, asking if she was being unfair, asking if she thought Engineer would be mad at her.
Bless her soul, I worry about her.
What I told her was that I thought she was cutting him too much slack by even discussing it with him — she raised her eyebrows and sounded surprised at that — because she doesn’t owe him an explanation, and to illustrate the fact I compared it to a similar experience of mine in which someone insulted me for not staying at a lunch table with them. As I was talking, though, I had to catch myself and reverse position when I realized that I sounded like I was telling her Not To Argue with him — something I hate when people do to me. And that’s a weird thing to find yourself doing, slipping into a behavior that you hate when people do to you.
Anyway, my goal was just to reassure her that she wasn’t obligated to make her case to him. I don’t know how much that got through, because I really did need to go soon after that. Kinda don’t want to go back to that place for game night at all.
The idea that disengagement is Contestable is a pervasive one.