Different Opinions

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

This is a story I heard when I was a student of a university not too far away from Philadelphia. I lived in an international house with a rule — no more than two people from each country. And in this house, most students are doing humanity science, like literature, philosophy, law, music etc. Please forgive me that for privacy’s sake, I can’t reveal the city, the university, or the department. Anyway, at the time I tried very hard to practice my English and would like to jump into any conversation. Now looking back, I feel that my younger self was too eager and too insecure and too…

And one of my housemates L told us that in her department, everybody was weird except the dean, who was straight, handsome, no bad habits, no indulgence, no vice, only praiseworthy merits, and very boring. L considered herself very liberal and her department very whimsical. At the time, I was full of artless admiration for her. However now, when I look back, I realize that L was a little less liberal than what she claimed to be and her department was probably just normal.

Then one day, L came back and told us that the dean was weird after all. What happened was that the dean traveled to Europe, ostensibly for an important academic conference, but secretly for a festival (Halloween or Carnival I can’t really remember) on the street of an ancient city. I forget which city she mentioned. It could be Vienna or Venice or some other cities with similar pronunciations. And guess what did the dean do? He dressed in women’s clothes and walked back and forth among the revellers for hours. Unfortunately for the dean who tried his best to uphold his boring image and keep his unorthodox behavior a secret, a graduate student from the department was also present. After spotting the dean, he sent out messages to everyone he knew to express his joy that the dean is “one of us” after all.

I understood the story but my interpretation was quite different from L’s. I thought it’s nothing special and felt sorry for the dean. L was quite amused, but I didn’t feel it that amusing. I thought the graduate student was really wrong in telling everybody since the dean was obviously not wanting others to know. The poor dean must be hurt by the fact that his well-guarded secret was known by everybody. L obviously thought differently and considered the dean a little hypocrite, who got what he deserved.

Now many years later, thinking about this story, I can’t help having a little remaining irritation in the fact that this harmless dean had a little bit fun and people immediately criticized him as soon as they heard about it. And it seemed that the whole community labeled him as a phony and had a bit of entertainment at his expense. On the other hand, I’ve tried to tell people about my narcissistic relatives for years, but I can never gain any sympathy among people I know except with one friend who only realized what I was talking about two months ago after knowing me for ten years. I mean I was talking about narcissistic people who damage other people’s life forever; people who are very harmful and continue to be harmful to others, but nobody would offer a sympathetic word. And narcissists are really big phonies… And of course I tried to talk to L about my narcissistic relatives on several occasions although at the time I didn’t know the existence of narcissism. However L considered me as being oversensitive and insecure.

It might be a common human weakness–people can judge a harmless behavior very quickly and negatively while at the same time people can turn a blind eye to very harmful behaviors and pretend they don’t exist.

21 thoughts on “Different Opinions

  1. It amuses me that we condemn behaviors one day and embrace them on other days. I have a son who spent ten days in jail for smoking pot (he would not agree to a diversion program for a lesser penalty). Barely five years later, billboards were all over town advertising where to buy cannabis.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, sorry to hear that and I hope he was not scarred by that ten days. He did show his character in making his choice. Yes, nowadays it seems it’s legal in many states. I heard about people who are trying to jump into this business and I am really shocked. I mean immigrants trying to get into the pot business and right now there’s a shortage of workers for small businesses in the Asian community and rumor has it that many people are being recruited to go to work for companies growing pot. I just can’t believe it.


    1. Oh, that’s an interesting and chaotic department as far as I knew. And I guess the young student didn’t really mean harm or malice, but I just felt sorry for the dean. I mean he was entitled to his privacy and anonymity. Although nowadays, it is increasingly hard to do, but that incident had happened before social media arrived.

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  2. I absolutely agree. It should be totally irrelevant whether the person is tattooed all over, wears women’s or men’s clothes, is gay or other, from this or that country, with this or that religion, is handicapped … the character of the person counts, the way this person treats other people. Anyway, if the dean had attended German carnival, it’s not uncommon for men to dress as women, I think it might also not be totally uncommon at the Carnivale di Venezia … whatever … it’s private!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you for sharing. So the dean really knew that in certain festivals in Europe, one can cross dress without being considered weird. It could very well be a German carnival or similar events in Venezia… Anyway, the poor dean. Students can be quite unforgiving sometimes, and probably it is because teachers are often quite unforgiving in testing them…

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  3. I agree with you, I think the Dean was just trying something and the student shouldn’t have outed him like that. It’s never okay to do that to someone. Humans are so quick to judge everyone who is different from them or behaves in a way they themselves wouldn’t. But we have to remember that we are all different in our own ways. And the Dean is allowed to have a life outside his “boring/normal” job and that doesn’t concern his students.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The poor dean is rather publicly shamed in the department and I feel sorry for him. He really doesn’t need to do this since his department is quite tolerant of unconventional behaviors, but he might have to do it for the sake of his parents or some conservative community he came from.

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  4. That’s crazy human psychology. I think humans are given too much credit for their supposed intellect and understanding. It seems like hypocrites should be the new label. Along with several other not so nice ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are sooo right. So often we can hear somebody’s past indiscretions (probably even two or three decades ago) are being dug out. Or probably two or three decades ago, those things were not considered indiscretions but rather acceptable …

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The excuse for “outing” politicians for affairs etc used to be that they were moralising and telling others what to do. eg They were conservatives condemning one-parent families. It doesn’t sound like your Dean was doing that so, as you say, he should be allowed his privacy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, you just remind me of a conservative politician right now who condemns abortion in public but secretly forcing his at least two girlfriends (ex-girlfriends) to do exactly what he condemns. On the other hand, he is probably brain damaged due to his football playing in his early days.

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