Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bluntness and secrecy

I’ve always been blunt and honest. I’d like to say that it’s some noble quality that I’ve nurtured over the course of my life, but a lot of it is that it’s just who I am. It takes conscious effort to control it. I’ve gotten to a point where I do a pretty good job of sitting back and considering things I’m going to say before I say them, so I don’t usually say stupid stuff. But, sometimes things just blurt out. One of the areas where I still need work is in asking forbidden questions. I’m definitely better, but it doesn’t immediately occur to me that certain things are socially unacceptable just by convention. Like a woman’s age, or someone’s weight, or how much money they make. A lot of people are offended by those questions. My parents would never tell us kids how much they made or allow us to know anything about the family finances. Stuff like that is just off-limits. I don’t know if I’ve ever been protective of things like that. I certainly don’t mind telling people that I’m 24 and weigh 275-280 pounds, depending on the weather. I think I might be discouraged by contract to post my salary, but many of you know what it is anyway.

Despite always being blunt, and generally not minding the "socially unacceptable" questions at all, there have always been some things I’ve kept secret. My middle name is probably the best example. At some point when I was pretty young I kind of resented sharing the same middle name as my dad, Mark. I like the name Mark. I think it fits Travis and Spomer very well. But I didn’t like that it was his. I don’t know if I just felt that it wasn’t unique enough, or if I didn’t like being associated with him, as he was the stern disciplinarian, the parent who couldn’t control his temper (neither could I), and the doler-outer of nonsensical rules (they really were stupid). Or, it could just be that my middle name was some secret word that my mother would use as leverage to put me under her mind control spells. By invoking my True Name she could command cosmic powers of obedience I didn’t even know existed. This was certainly nothing unique to me; I knew from experience that many of my friends’ mothers could do magical things with middle names.

Whatever the reason for wanting to keep my middle name a secret, now lost to the scratchy sands of time, I did. For as long as I can remember I’ve written my name as Travis M. Spomer. People would always ask me what the M stood for, and I would always say that it stood for M. (Maybe I just liked the attention that writing my name differently from everyone else would occasionally get me.) But M remained a secret. I revealed its secrets to a few trusted associates. In fact, I think that M remained mostly a secret until at least a year or so into college. I had kept it a secret for so long that I guess I never bothered to reevaluate why it was a secret.

I still keep a few secrets. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t sugar-coat things my managers ask, or occasionally talk behind peoples’ backs, or things like that. I'm still good at keeping other peoples' secrets, as long as I know they're secrets, which has caused a few people to tell me some surprising things. But sometime around half a decade ago I stopped keeping most things to myself. I stopped hiding my emotions, for one. I’m less restrained. I’m still not outgoing by any means, but I guess now my secrets are a lot closer to the tip of my tongue than they used to be. That’s probably the source of the increased amount of consideration that I try to put into things before I say them.

You just can’t ask someone their salary or any similar kind of question. It’s just rude. I’m careful with what I say most of the time, but it slipped out tonight... I asked someone a question that directly translated to salary. I felt dumb as soon as it happened. Sometimes I still don’t speak as carefully as I wish.

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