Yesterday afternoon, I was in line at a Starbucks in Tustin and I overheard a conversation between a man and woman at a nearby table. They were both around my age, in their late-thirties, dressed professionally and from what I could glean from the snippet of conversation, they were on a first date.
The topic was music.
When asked what she likes, the woman responded with Top- Forty.
Her date pressed her to be more specific, but she continued to be vague and responded with "You know, I like whatever's on the radio."
I picked up my latte and walked out the door, thinking about the couple on the date.
My initial thoughts weren't very nice. I'm a huge fan of the show Survivor and one of the most hilarious contestants this season is a returning player named Cochran. The girl's response of "Top-Forty" made me think of something that Cochran said about a fellow contestant, Julia. He called her personality "Vanilla". Top-Forty seemed like a very vanilla response.
I had a chance to rethink my position when NPR Music posted this article on Facebook last night.
Maybe the girl on the date was afraid to share more specific loves in music, because she didn't feel comfortable giving out that part of herself.
When I was younger, I found it really hard to share the things in art that I held most close to my heart. I think that it was in part a difficulty in expressing why I liked what I did and the other half was an apprehension that others might not feel the same.
When you're in high school, not everyone is going to share your love for obscure Broadway musicals. Luckily, I went to the Los Angeles County High School for The Arts, where a lot of other kids did and once I felt comfortable there, I became a lot more vocal about the things that I enjoyed.
This apprehension has grown less and less over the years and for a long time now, I have not been the least bit shy to own up to what I like. Although, that doesn't mean that it has come without a price.
I love the heart of Stephen Thompson's NPR Music article, because it speaks to one of my most hard-learned lessons regarding dating. It's okay to have differences of opinion, but it's not okay when those differences turn into a lack of respect.
It's sometimes easier said than done, especially when someone you love, loves something that you loathe. Although it may be okay to gently tease the person about it (respectfully/ gently) or have a real conversation regarding it, it's NEVER okay to be belittle them for it. It's never okay to make them feel stupid or less valued for their choices. You may not understand or like it and that's okay. There's room for many different perspectives in art.
I had this very issue lead to a major breakdown in respect and communication with someone that I dated a few years ago. This person is a good man and generally not a jerk, but he definitely acted like a jerk with regard to my taste in music. His negative attitude boiled over and completely ruined a concert experience that I had been looking forward to for months, one that included meeting my favorite artist and the best seats in the house. I was so hurt and angry, so much so, that writing it now still stings. The hurt wasn't the differences in taste, it was the reaction to the differences. It was the lack of maturity and respect.
There are many things that I don't care for, but when I am faced with having to sit through a concert or movie that I don't like, I try to go into with a positive and open attitude. I certainly don't want to ruin it for them.
If I have something negative to say about something that someone I love, loves, I word it carefully or decide not to say it. Above all, I try my best not to have a superior attitude towards what I hold dear. Smugness is not an endearing quality.
It's not always easy and I'm not always perfect. I have strong opinions that I love to express. However, like Thompson writes in his article, I would rather be with a great person, than someone whose has the same artistic sensibilities. Adding to that, I would like to BE a great person to them and grow from those differences.
In closing, I would like to thank Dan for being game for Rhett Miller concerts, Disneyland and experimental theater!