my shrink asked me what i disliked about the job i vow not to blog about each time i blog. but since this is absolutely the absolute for real final time i will write about it… I will continue…. i said that what i most dislike is that i don’t fit into the culture. I was hesitant to say that it was very frat-boy’ish because my shrink, although not very frat’ish is a former college athlete and perhaps he has allegiances with fraternity culture. He wanted more specifics.
I described my boss to him as a pit-bull of a man … and then I backtracked because it is actually belligerent dog-owners who raise belligerent dogs, and not the reverse. I don’t know why the word “belligerent” did not come to me instead of pit-bull. why is it that the words i am seeking are never there when i need them the most? it happens all the time. and not just with dog breeds.
my shrink said, now I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but are you familiar with the term ‘alpha’… as in alpha dog? Yes, I am. He said he didn’t think I was the alpha type. I wasn’t sure whether he meant this in a good way or a bad way. I responded that I am alpha in my artwork, my art projects, the things i care about. He didn’t seem convinced. Nor was I.
The truth of the matter is that I take the director role in my performances because I am the only one I can trust to evoke my mercurial sensibility on stage. so, in some ways, i can be a control freak. Would that be considered an alpha quality?
i really hope not… because alphas kind of wear out their welcome eventually. my relationships with them tend to become strained. i lose my voice. even when my voice is strong, they are usually louder than me. but i’m also referring to the inner voice. which can be difficult to hear under any circumstance.
and then, when I’m out and about in the world… and i observe alphas in action, i am repelled. i feel sorry for whomever they are conversing with, even if they are the best of friends. their dominance, their aggression, their persistent need to command the center of attention…. to me it’s suffocating. but i know very lovely people who enjoy being around alphas, and who sometimes even marry them. it’s something i don’t quite understand.
did i ever tell you that i once played trumpet when i was in 6th grade? all of the boys played brass instruments and all of the girls played woodwinds. And we were ranked from first chair (the best) to last chair (the worst). but you could move up the ladder if you liked. you could challenge the person ranked above you to claim their chair in this audition dual mediated by the band teacher.
i happened to be the 23rd chair out of the 24 boy trumpet players. One day, the band teacher informed me that the 24th chair trumpet boy wanted to challenge me for the 23rd chair. And my reaction was… well, OK. he can have it. 24th chair, 23rd chair… does it really matter? So I voluntarily let myself be deposed.
it never occurred to me that this might be seen as a character flaw, a weakness… until the very next band practice. the band teacher was prone to tantrums when rehearsals were going awry. sometimes he would throw chalk and erasers at the students, while screaming at us. but this time, he just stopped the rehearsal point blank, and scolded the class for our passive performance…. and he singled me out as exemplifying that passivity. He said, “Just look at The Lost Pedestrian! Look at him!!!! He’s just going to let the entire world walk all over him!”
I raised my hand to express my objection. “Excuse me,” I said, “not the entire world. Just the 24th chair.”