You may have read Joan’s post about her encounter with a small woman with a great manicure in a giant SUV, who took it upon herself to illegally take up not one, but two disabled parking spots at a local event. And who rolled up her window in Joan’s face when Joan inquired if it might be possible for her to move the car to one side to allow another car to park in one of the spots – legally.
This person, I thought, clearly Doesn’t Get It. I tend to rather unconsciously use mental categories for people – the most general of which are People Who Get It, and People Who Don’t.
Joan’s story made me stop and think about this a little more. Some folks who Don’t Get It are perfectly nice people, but lack that little twinkle. They think everything I say is serious. I, being a prodigious user of sarcasm, hyperbole, and irony, tend to have a very hard time communicating with such individuals.
Some who Don’t Get It are of a more sinister ilk – crass and self-absorbed, they believe, beyond a doubt, that the world revolves around them, and feel it is their God-given right to do things like use disabled parking spots, cut in front of people in line, yak loudly on their cell phones in inappropriate places, and generally behave poorly. (I wonder what they think of themselves? Do they have friends? What are those get-togethers like??)
Anyway, all this made me think of a concept from one of my favorite books from one of my favorite series of all time, Anne’s House of Dreams, by Lucy Maude Montgomery. Anne has always divided her world into people who are “kindred spirits” and people who, well, aren’t. In House of Dreams, she meets Captain Jim, an old sea captain who lives in the lighthouse near the newlywed nest she shares with her childhood sweetheart, Gilbert. Captain Jim relates the idea of kindred spirits in the following charming way:
“…You’re young and I’m old, but our souls are about the same age, I reckon. We both belong to the race that knows Joseph, as Cornelia Bryant would say.”
“The race that knows Joseph?” puzzled Anne.
“Yes. Cornelia divides all the folks in the world into two kinds– the race that knows Joseph and the race that don’t. If a person sorter sees eye to eye with you, and has pretty much the same ideas about things, and the same taste in jokes–why, then he belongs to the race that knows Joseph.”
“Oh, I understand,” exclaimed Anne, light breaking in upon her.
“It’s what I used to call–and still call in quotation marks `kindred spirits.'”
“Jest so–jest so,” agreed Captain Jim. “We’re it, whatever it is. When you come in tonight, Mistress Blythe, I says to myself, says I, `Yes, she’s of the race that knows Joseph.’ And mighty glad I was, for if it wasn’t so we couldn’t have had any real satisfaction in each other’s company. The race that knows Joseph is the salt of the airth, I reckon.”
I had my facts all goofed up when I was trying to explain it to Joan in an e-mail last night, but I went and looked it up and now I have it straight. In my world, people of “The Race that Knows Joseph” know when I’m teasing, are comfortable sitting in silence for a few minutes, stop and look at a sunset or a beautiful view, like books, have a similar sense of the ridiculous, and come to the back door to my house.
Who are your kindred spirits?