Do you know what I’ve discovered? Everybody has a freakin’ opinion about everything in America, and for some reason they all think I really give a shit about what they think. During the election season, I refrained from posting my opinions on anybody’s Facebook page or blog whose thoughts were antithetical to mine because what was the point? I knew that nothing I could say would change their narrow minds, so why did they think trying to publicly chastise my opinion on my Facebook page or my blog would change what I assume they thought was my misguided mindset. Well, “oh snap, biotches—my opinions didn’t change one iota, but your asses got blocked—so there!”
Southpark Facebook block meme
The irony that I have a blog when I have such a visceral response to other people’s “opinions” might seem ludicrous. But I never wanted to be a blogger and came to the medium kicking and screaming for the reason stated above—who the fuck cares about my opinion? I didn’t even have a Facebook page because I
thought (and still do) that it was a giant waste of time. I figured if you were my friend and cared about what I thought, you could ask me in person, and we could have a face-to-face intelligent dialogue about the subject at hand. All this angst over to-blog-or-not-to-blog happened in the midst of me finishing the manuscript of my first book.
But I was hopelessly naïve. I thought I could write my book, send out the finished product to hundreds of literary agents and one “very interested publisher,” and they would flock to my door in a bidding war over the right to publish my gem of a memoir. FALSE!
(NOTE FROM LITERARY AGENT #235 AND MIDWEST SMALL-PRINT PUBLISHER REGARDING THEIR OPINIONS ABOUT MY DESIRE TO BE A PAID AUTHOR OF MY (IN MY OPINION) AMAZING MEMOIR: “Ms. Tomczyk, let’s get real here: Your writing is good; you have a unique voice in the public square, and I personally find it intriguing, but unless you have a sex tape, a platform of 1M Twitter followers, and ½ million followers for a blog and Facebook page (by the way: why don’t you have a blog and FP page—are you meshugganah?), no one is interested in what you have to say. Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian you’re not. So far you’ve submitted a ‘nobody memoir’ to the publishing world and who would want to read the opinions of a “nobody.” Take our advice and don’t hold your breath and, for God’s sake, don’t quit your day job.”)
Charles Schulz Cartoon|Google Image
My husband WW (“White and Wonderful”) is even more antagonistic about people’s opinions than I am. He’s the kind of person who believes in the mantra: “just the facts ma’am—just give me the facts, and I’ll figure out the truth!” When we first met some 40 years ago, if I threw out an opinion that was not factually based, WW’s only response would be a Sheldon-type (from The Big Bang Theory) full-throated response of one word: “FALSE!” There would be nothing else—no follow-up and no argument. At first it royally pissed me off, then it made me laugh, and finally it gave me an appreciation of my husband’s genius, because he knew something that Einstein had once said that I didn’t’ know: “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions that differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
Carlson Cartoon|image from Universal Press
I noticed WW’s Tourette’s-like “False!” responses were becoming more and more “de rigueur” as we visited churches in our area to find a place of worship where we didn’t feel worse coming out than we did going in. (DISCLAIMER: I do not have such an idiotic opinion about post-modern Christianity that I don’t realize that there are some wonderful and awesome churches in America and many of them some of my readers attend. However, please note that IMHO none of these delightful churches exist in my area which is why I stopped pretending that going to church on Sunday did anything for me except bore me to tears.)
The end of church attendance for the time being all came to a head when WW and I visited a church we were invited to by my supervisor at work. This woman fancied herself to be a top-notch, first-class Christian from deep in the heart of Texas, and she felt it her duty to make sure everyone around her in the workplace “loved the Lord” or she’d make their lives a living hell (can you say: send in Human Resources, pronto please!). I was new to this particular job and because of the seniority Texas-belle had over me at the time and the power she wielded with the head of the company, when she asked me to visit her church (trying to ascertain if I were a “true Christian,” I now know), politics dictated that I say yes. I thought: “Oh what the Hell; how awful can this be? WW and I are looking for a church anyway, and if I accompany this woman this one time, she’ll leave me alone and show me kindness and favor at my new job.”
When WW and I first arrived at the church of approximately 1,200 people, nothing seemed unusual or out of the ordinary except that all the people were white (I was the only person of color), but I’ve traveled extensively around the world and I am easily culturally adaptable, and I’ve come to realize the sad truth that the 11:00 church hour in America is the most segregated hour of the week. But it didn’t take long for me to start noticing the anomalies.
ME: Psst . . . Honey. Did you notice that all the women are wearing really baggy jumpers with large bows in their hair and not one of them has a stitch of make-up on?
WW: Now that you mention it, yes. I’ve also noticed how all the women have 6 – 12 children in tow and the men who are bookending them in the pews look absolutely miserable for people who are having that much sex.
ME: Psst . . .Honey, the women keep staring at me when they think I’m not looking. What the hell are they staring at?
WW: Probably gawking at your Mae West eyelashes and blinged-out Dolly Parton figure—it’s a little hard to miss, especially amongst these women who seem to make looking plain an art form. But I love it and that’s all that matters.
ME: Oh, for God’s sake—they’re giving me the creeps. You’d think people had never seen huge tits and a bootylicious ass before.
WW: Don’t worry, it will all be over soon and remember, I love your tits and ass! Just try to ignore them. Besides, maybe those women are an anomaly; the preacher just said how this church’s mission statement is that they are a “haven for all those who want to belong and all are welcome no matter who you are or what size your ass is.”
ME: Thanks, funny man. Did you also notice how the men won’t speak to me directly or look at me. They only talk to you? They act as if I’m a nuisance or should be in a burqa. They almost sound “irritated” when they are forced to acknowledge me.
(At that moment, apropos to nothing, the preacher who was droning along in his speech, said, “apples, apples, apples, gay marriage is wrong and they’re all going to Hell and I believe it’s a sin for a woman to work outside the home when she has children and the Bible says a man is in sin unless he has a quiver full of children, and I don’t care who says differently; apples, apples, apples, and welcome to our church community where all who enter are welcome and will find a loving home no matter what stage of life they are in or what race they are.”)
WW: (In a mellifluous bass voice that sounds like what you’d think the voice of God sounds like, I heard WW’s one-syllable judgment against the preacher-man’s diatribe.) FALSE! FALSE! FALSE!
Before we could close our mouths and wipe the perplexity off our faces, WW and I started preparing to sneak out of the service when said preacher-man suddenly announced that we all line up at the back of the church for the closing prayer. Simply wanting to make a quick exit, WW and I did as we were told, and bowed our heads for the benediction as I caught a glimpse of my supervisor looking on with a disapproving eye. I don’t know what I noticed first, the loud thump a surprised WW made when he fell to the floor or the preacher-man praying over me in tongues and pushing against my forehead with all his might to make me fall so that it looked as if I had been “slain in the spirit—touched by the anointing” (a Pentecostal religious experience [much more
rare than most Pentecostals would like to admit] that is supposed to happen under the influence of the power of God but not because of the bitch-slap of a psycho preacher). I guess preacher-man had determined that my over-the-top hussified persona looked too much like Mary Magdalene so I was going to need his special anointing of a “smack down” to get the Holy Ghost into my sinful body. There I stood—preacher man pushing with all his might against my forehead and me pushing back like a ram against his hand as my fiery eyes said,
“Oh Hell to the no, preacher-man, HE—LL to the no!” But as I glanced down to see if WW was okay,
I lost my footing in my five-inch heels and hit the floor like a bag of 160 pounds of potatoes that had been tossed from a vegetable cart on its way to market. Fuming, not wanting to make a scene, and knowing that my job would be toast if I tackled the preacher around his legs and opened up a can of whup-ass on him, I lay back on the floor and waited for him to move on down the receiving line while I pretended to be “slain in the spirit”—a moment I am not proud of.
I don’t know who started giggling first, me or WW, and I don’t know how we gracefully got up from the floor and out of that place, but I do know that that was the end of our church visits. I was mortified that I had let myself be compromised for job security (I should have gone off on that duplicitous preacher and brought the house down with Ms. Supervisor looking on in horror because she got pushed out of her job shortly after that debacle anyway). After that horrifying incident, I decided that Jesus and I would hook up in my breakfast nook or on the deck over mimosas and the Bible and I’d let him judge whether that was good enough to get me into Heaven or not. I decided to start a blog that not only addressed my “platform” need to get published but would also send a message to those who used to know me and who thought I held the same opinions as they did that the old Eleanor had changed many aspects of her ideology and was turning around on the road of life to find her way home to the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I am discovering that “group think” is a bitch. Merriam-Webster says group think is “The practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.” The other day Glenn Beck, the self-proclaimed “savior of the real America” urged his listeners to stockpile guns, and ammunition, and to purchase farmland for end time survival after the president’s reelection while he dunked a plastic Obama doll into a jar of fake pee (claimed it was free speech). As he laughs all the way to the bank having signed a $100M contract with Clear Channel radio, I know people who I used to love and adore who cling to Beck’s every word and hail him as a visionary and an idol on their Facebook page while they pledge to fight the good fight as a “patriot.” They also claim Beck’s ideology and hatred of our black president does not make him a racist. Well, this black person screams a resounding: FALSE!
The Washington Post just released a book review by Jonathan Yardley on A Small Town Near Auschwitz; Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust by Mary Fulbrook that underscores the fact that the full scale Nazi annihilation of the Jews would have been virtually impossible without the “attitudes, mentalities, and actions” of ordinary citizens coming into play—and I might add, many of them good Lutheran Christians. Yardley says that many Germans, after the war, “would successfully cast themselves in the role of innocent ‘bystanders,’ even claiming they ‘had never known anything about’ the Holocaust.” And come that great judgment day, I am of the humble opinion that God will simply pronounce judgment on all those “innocent German bystanders” by simply declaring: FALSE!
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”—Steve Jobs
“For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.”—Benjamin Franklin
“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”—Leonardo da Vinci
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