The Race that Knows Joseph

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?



Filed under Lifebits, Reading

10 responses to “The Race that Knows Joseph

  1. Beth

    Well, you are. I remember meeting you and, while you were dealing with a sad and difficult family illness, you still were funny, ironic, and immediately loveable. Instant simpatico and I walked away from that lunch thinking “I made a new friend.”

    YFChris, who introduced us, is. She and I met under professional circumstances and she was smart and sane and just nice. When work later caused us to spend alot of time together, I realized how funny she is. She loves animals. And she does nice things like introduce two people who she thinks would hit it off. A true peach of a person.

    There are others, but my kindred spirits have a few things in common:

    1. A sense of perspective. While they have their ups and downs (who doesn’t?), they don’t confuse a broken grocery bag or jammed printer with living in Bosnia, in a basement, without water, with civil war raging around them.

    2. A sense of humor. This does not mean telling jokes. It means finding the lightness or irony or silliness around you. And being able to laugh at oneself.

    3. Niceness. They wouldn’t have taken that parking spot, much less the one next to it. They are polite and they don’t do things at others’ expense. While not immune to the joy of a little gossip (thank God), they don’t EVER stab a friend in the back or repeat a confidence. They are better, kinder, more honest than they need to be and they don’t do things that are inconsistent with that because they could get away with it.

    4. They have the ability to enjoy and appreciate life.

    5. They are not “cool.” They may like nice things as much as the next person, but they aren’t caught up in them. They appreciate a good mug of hot chocolate, an interesting book, a pet. They will gladly read “Harry Potter” or watch “Charlotte’s Web” or “Babe.” They like happy endings and want the bad guy to get caught.

    As I type this, I realize how lucky I am. I really have a nice little cadre of kindred spirits. I see some of them often, some of them rarely, and some of them I’ve never actually met. In fact, a kindred spirit may be a writer–I think Barbara Kingsolver is a kindred spirit or the “Eat, Pray, Love” lady whose name escapes me this morning.

    And, in that vein, I’d recommend It’s a blog by 2 ladies in their 80s who have been best friends for over 60 years. If you liked Ann Richards or Molly Ivins, you’ll love them. (warning–if you are politically conservative, you may have a hard time with some of their views.). I feel like they are kindred spirits, too.

  2. Joseph like, and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat? Interesting.
    Now I have to go see MargaretandHelen. Two 80 yr old women blogging sounds AWESOME.

  3. I’ve met so many kindred spirits and I’m always grateful for their friendship.

  4. I am in the middle of listening to Ann of Green Gables, so I totally get that kindred spirit thing. (Although I find Ann rather annoying in her excessive emotions.) Reading your excerpt, I discovered that she does eventually realize that Gilbert is not devil spawn, and that she does eventually add that “e” to her name. Thank you for that. And thank you for the link to margaretandhelen. I am going there now.

  5. Oops! I didn’t mean to spoil the story for anyone! Cover your eyes if you don’t know how it goes…

  6. Oh, I can get that book series through NetLibrary or Librivox! I’ll have to put it on my list.

  7. I’m lucky to have lots of kindred spirits. I still remember the first time I met Margene. She picked me up at the airport in Salt Lake City. We looked at each other for a split second, laughed, then hugged. Instant kindred spirit.

  8. Those people who don’t get it? We call them assholes, Nora.

    Seriously, when is that Beth getting her own blog?!


  9. Those kindred spirits are such blessings!

  10. HEHEHEHEH! I love Cookie’s comment. Pretty much sums up what I was going to say. Happy Friday and thanks for the lead on another book

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