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Impersonal Debates: While We’re Waiting

Everyone has opinions. The coolest thing about having one is you never have to really venture too far to find someone who disagrees with you. Every angle is always covered and usually it’s within the small circle of people with whom you share your day to day life. Before you sit down at your job and barely began your day, you’ve already met someone who hates baseball, or that podcast you are addicted to, or if we crossed paths, someone who loves black licorice. It makes getting through the day interesting. We accept on ourselves the burden of converting people to our viewpoint, at least a little bit. Occasionally we will be persuaded to move closer to the way the other guy thinks. That part is important too, although not nearly as much fun.

These arguments come in a million forms and vary in significance and passion. Some are over within five minutes and end with a laugh or an exaggerated eye roll. A truce of sorts. “We agree to disagree” and other such platitudes. Then there are the more serious ones. Sharing the idea that Game of Thrones is a garbage TV show or that Harry Potter was not all that special can threaten relationships and ruin job interviews. These usually don’t end well and can result in a next-time-you-see-each-other by-the-elevator-one-of-you -is-using-the-stairs kind of deal. There is some lingering resentment for a while but everyone is still friends.

There are some that become serials. Nobody is letting go. Every time you bump into your counterpart another installment of incredulous faces and outraged expressions of disbelief is added to its history. Think renting or buying, hotels or Airbnb, Ohio State-Michigan and so on. No one is ever changing anyone’s mind and nobody really remembers why they care all that much or how it started, but hey it’s been ten years and we aren’t stopping now. The topic comes up and everyone else just scatters, your wife throws up her hands and heads off to bed, and suddenly it’s five hours later and you’re still jawing in the kitchen at Uncle Brian.

There is one more kind. It’s the kind that occupies your mind even when there is no one around to argue with. You lie in bed thinking of different ways you will prove your point next time you meet that guy. It constantly occupies your mind. It’s like the book sitting on your night table that you’ve been reading for 3 months. You never finish but you are always in the middle of it. You grab chapters here and there, and then it recedes for a while from the forefront, but it always flares up, and never really goes away.

In other words Lebron Vs. Michael.

Everyone feels strongly about this one way or another. I have always alternated between being bored by the conversation entirely to brawling bare-knuckled. Usually within the span of five minutes. It’s been kind of weird for me that although I spent 4 years of my life hating Lebron more than I’ve ever remotely hated anything else in my life, and that includes the Steelers, by the way, my opinion that that’s it’s obvious that MJ is not even in the conversation anymore has never really changed.

I am kind of scared to say that out loud but WFNY seems as safe a place as any to say that without looking over your shoulder. I’ve always felt like no one was even close to his talent and I was quite passionate about it. So yesterday, as he prepared to pass Jordan in points scored, as ambivalent as I have become towards the NBA in recent years, I thought I would be interested in watching, that it would be kind of meaningful. Another bullet in the gun so to speak. But I didn’t. Didn’t watch, didn’t follow, and didn’t much care.

The argument doesn’t belong to me anymore. When he left the first time we remained connected through his “betrayal”. We all know what happened in 2016. I will always be grateful but he’s become like the guy who stopped to change your flat tire on the freeway in a swirling blizzard. You think of him often, have really warm feelings from the experience, and remain very grateful. But he isn’t really part of your life anymore. He moved along and his lights have faded off in the distance. He is an anecdote, an important one in the story of my life, but an anecdote all the same.

He is still better than Michael but it isn’t important to me that it be that way. It no longer bothers me that people can’t see the obvious. If it’s not personal it carries no weight. I don’t lose sleep over no one liking black licorice and I won’t lose sleep over Lebron not being the unanimous GOAT. I’ve lost many debates in my life and I’ve won some along the way, but I’ve never left one midstream. Until now. Until yesterday. I need a new life argument and I am accepting suggestions. As long as it’s not politics I’m up for something fresh.

Who’s in?