Thursday, December 18, 2008

Since You Asked

I'm done for. My admiration for Cary Tennis is officially a full-blown, swoony, nerdy crush. There, I've said it. His advice is the best sort of balm for the problems that people bring to him. He acknowledges the person's humanity, embraces them in a "you're human; we are all human" sort of blanket, shushing them, and then carefully, respectfully, gives it to them straight. And there is very little so powerful as strong words from a gentleman. He excels in this arena. From today's column, in which a mother worries that her friend's son is displaying signs of autism:

This brings me to the subject of bullshit, the rampant bullshit that passes for knowledge, the arrant bullshit that passes for conversations on airplanes and in bars and restaurants. There is such a difference between knowledge and bullshit. Bullshit is just the stuff that comes out of our mouths. It's the stuff we believe we know. It's stuff like, "Well, the black bears are the dangerous ones." I'm down in Florida and I'm just hearing guys talk. I'm thinking, how the fuck do you know black bears are the dangerous ones? Are you a wildlife behavior specialist? That's what I mean about bullshit. We believe things about ourselves and about our children. That doesn't make them so.

Ever the fangirl, I sent Mr. Tennis a note a couple of weeks ago to tell him that I think he's fantastic. I even shared with him -- and if you aren't sitting, may I recommend that you do so? -- the fact that I think of him as the Neil Finn of advice. (I know! Nobody has ever earned that title before!) His response was as gracious and personable as one would imagine. (I suspect he doesn't hold Mr. Finn in the same swirly, hushed regard I do, but seemed to understand what the title meant.)

Some people make the world a better place in small ways, every day. I think it's nice to let them know when you notice it.