Don’t Box Me In

I have a friend at the gym I have known for two years now. He’s more than just a “hi, how are ya” friend, we’ve had many meaningful conversations and talk about a great deal of different topics. Recently, I asked him about his accent. Growing up as provincial as I did I have NO CLUE how to identify different accents and have, on occasion mistaken an Aussie for a Brit (hanging head low low low.) I was curious but not burningly so, I have known him for two years and never asked ’til now. He answered that he doesn’t tell people; he often tells people he’s “from heaven”, and generally (politely) fucks with people who ask. Much like Jim, who when people ask “So, what do you do?”, “Drugs” is his pat answer, Alan tells inquirers of that same question “I’m a stripper and a pimp. Are you interested?” I also have been known to stymie people’s queries into “what I do” by answering “ask me something else, people in this area are too defined by WHAT THEY DO.”

We talked about this for a while; how people tend to put other people in boxes, make assumptions, and seem generally uncomfortable with not knowing someone’s provenance. He started his academic career at Oxford and currently teaches at Georgetown; he’s lived all around the world and can speak five languages. He doesn’t want a box. So many people have been put in a box recently. It makes me sad to think about. My neighbor now has family living with her and when her daughter hollered a hello across the cul-de-sac, I made sure to go over and talk to her and the newly arrived cousins. “They only speak Urdu” she informed me. That made me make sure I actually talked to the little boys. One shook my hand and both smiled brightly at me. I don’t want those boys put in a box either.

This isn’t a “this is what we should do” post. If I knew what to do I’d have done it and made millions doing so. Maybe it harkens back to my recent Facebook post (  about #justbebetter.  If everyone would #justbebetter, people wouldn’t have assumptions made about them. People could be freer with their countries of origin, sexual identities or preferences, their bodies, their mental health status, their interests; people wouldn’t be put in boxes.

Because only IKEA furniture belongs in a box.