Litmus, Litmus on the Wall
If you had to come up with one question, the answer to which would determine whether or not you could be friends with a person you’ve just met, what would it be? What would the right answer be?
You can’t put litmus on the wall. It’s already occupied. By me, remember? The wallpaper? And I’m perfectly happy here, thanks very much. You learn a lot about people from here, without having to stick nasty pieces of purple blotting paper under their tongues, or ask them their favourite colour or similar vacuous questions they might or might not answer truthfully, and where does that get you anyway?
Not that I occupied the wall with a view to racking up dossiers on those who stand in my vicinity flinging their personal opinions around like misplaced apostrophes, and sharpening their knives prior to sticking them in other people’s backs.
The realisation that I was inadvertently privy to this sort of information came slowly, and was rather overwhelming, to tell the truth. No idealistic teenager really wants to know that her elders and betters might be elder, but are clearly capable of lying like troupers for their own nefarious purposes. But it also taught me a lot about books and covers, and developed my bullshit meter to an uncomfortable degree.
I say uncomfortable, because a well-developed bullshit meter doesn’t make for an easy life in a society where herd instinct rules. It’s a lonely place if this month’s flavour of it happens to raise goose bumps down your back.
But asking questions? Do you seriously think you’ll get honest answers to really important ones? Like, Are you an arch-manipulator? Or, Are you a one-eyed bigot? Or, Do you have a sense of humour? Which is possibly the trickiest of all, since those who don’t, inevitably think they do, those who do don’t claim it in case they’re actually category one and don’t know it, and in any case, is it the same as yours?
So if you insist on a question, how do you like your eggs is probably as good as any. There’s no right or wrong answer, and at least you might get an honest one.