ON THE SOCIAL DISADVANTAGES
OF PLAYING DIPLOMACY

by Randy Lawrence-Hurt


It has recently come to my attention that I am a socially unacceptable person. This was not openly stated to me by anyone, but that may be part of the problem; I found it out by reading other people's mail. Up till that point, I had assumed this was quite normal behavior, and had even gone to the lengths of installing a padlock on my own mailbox, under the assumption that others would be attempting to discover my dealings by the same means. It was only upon my reading of the incriminating letter, which detailed my behavior from a third-party's point of view, that I began to take a new look at my life, and was suddenly struck by how different I was from everyone else. I'll provide some examples:

  1. I was the only person in my circle of friends who, when asked to pass the salt at a restaurant, routinely responded "Pass me the butter first, and maybe we'll talk business."

  2. If a friend mentioned he had been to a party the night before, I went to great lengths to confirm his story, get reports of the same event from others who were present, determine what, if any, conversations were held that might concern me, and undermine any new relationships that I thought might be detrimental to me in the long run.

  3. As I mentioned earlier, I had padlocked my mailbox on what seemed the reasonable grounds that, because I read other's mail, they would no doubt read mine. In addition, though, I also installed three passwords protecting my e-mail account, got an unlisted phone number and tap-protected phone line, and changed my cell-phone service provider every three months, in case someone got a job there and started giving my number away to my enemies.

And so on. As you can imagine, this put rather a damper on my social life, but thanks to it being my habit, I didn't realize this until I read the aforementioned letter. Even then I refused to believe it, thinking this was merely some devious attempt to get me to drop my guard. I burned the letter, and sprinkled the ashes into the East River.

I remained troubled by the insinuations of the letter though, until an event occurred which changed everything. Early last week I was listening to a telephone conversation between my best friend and my brother through a wiretap on my friend's house I installed four months ago. The conversation I heard completely revolutionized my thinking. I include the relevant part of the conversation here, so you can better understand my shock:

Friend: But hereís the thing. This is the way I want it. I have a project that I want somebody to take it just like I took the Hiss case, the Bentley case, and the rest. And Iíll tell you what this takes. This takes 18 hours a day. It takes devotion and dedication and loyalty and devilishness such as youíve never seen, Bob. Iíve never worked as hard in my life and Iíll never work as hard again because I donít have the energy. But this is a hell of a great opportunity because here is what it is. I want to track down every goddamn leak there is and, you see — and hereís where John will recoil. I donít — probably we, weíll have to tell him. You probably donít know what I meant when I said yesterday that we won the Hiss case in the papers. We did. I had to leak stuff all over the place… Because the Justice Department would not prosecute it. Hoover didnít even cooperate until I leaked it out. It was won in the papers.

It was clear my best friend and my brother were aware of my knowledge of their activities; though they thought there was a "leak," and appeared unaware I possessed actual wiretaps, they knew I had advance warning of their schemes, and were planning on releasing this information to my other associates, in hopes of undercutting my position. I had no idea who this Hiss guy was, but it didn't matter; I had solid proof that the people in my life closest to me were plotting against me, and my paranoia was justified. I henceforth disregarded the possible "social unacceptability" of my actions, and concocted a plan to save my strategies from disclosure and disarray.

But perhaps I'd better not say any more… one can never be too careful.

Author's Note: In case anyone didn't get it, that "excerpt" is from the Nixon Watergate tapes… for some reason I thought it was funny in this context. That is probably symptomatic of my social unacceptability, and I apologize.


Randy Lawrence-Hurt
(randy.lawrencehurt@gmail.com)

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