I used to believe there are two kinds of people in the world: those who get it and those who don’t. And that thought still comes to mind occasionally.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that there are many other dividing lines which characterize our curious species.
I’m not talking biology here; I’ve never taken a class, and from what I’ve heard, that subject is getting really complicated. No, I’m talking psychology; I’ve never taken a class in that either, but I have a friend who’s a psychologist, so …
I’m talking about cat people and dog people, or techies and technophobes, people who like pineapple on pizza and those who recoil at the thought, those who can tell time and those who can’t. I’m sure you have your own categories.
My wife Dianne and I are cat people, although, for some reason, almost everyone else we know has dogs. That’s OK – we like other peoples’ dogs. Maybe we’re just lazy, but we like the idea of not having to go for a walk every day, not having to pick up after it, and not having to listen to incessant loud barking every time a leaf falls from a tree. I always wanted a dog when I was a kid, until I actually brought a puppy home and learned about responsibility. A younger, more mature, sister took over.
Two later experiences with dogs convinced me that cats, who sleep a lot, who can be left alone for a weekend, and who know how to use a litter, are much more for me. A girlfriend once insisted on getting a puppy for Christmas. I knew this was a bad idea, but always aiming to please, I conceded – OK, I caved. A few days later, in tears, she had me return the unspayed female to the SPCA; our relationship lasted only slightly longer than I imagine the poor dog did.
Later, in a two-career marriage with two kids whose daily schedule was filled with after-school lessons and hockey and baseball practices, I was roped into getting another puppy. Long story short – it wasn’t that long – we gifted it to a man who could properly care for it. No more dogs.
I’m not a techie by any stretch, but not quite a technophobe. Put me in the category of people who don’t care how gadgets work, only that they do. As a kid, my father spent hours fixing things; he would spend his weekends resuscitating our Volkswagen Beetle. He liked taking things apart – radios, TV sets, clocks – just to see how they worked. Me, I’m thankful for roadside assistance and two mechanically-inclined friends.
One thing I did inherit from my father – oops, biology – is his insistence on being early for everything, work or play. He took it to an extreme, actually needing to be hours early, not minutes. I’m not that bad, more of a minutes-early man.
I am adapting, though, to the time zones in which others dwell. I’ve come to realize, for instance, that it’s not cool to show up at a party at the proposed starting time, unless you’re there to vacuum.
Some people have a good excuse to be early. I used to go to the movies with a friend of mine who was a 6-foot-10 basketball player. We had to choose our seats half an hour before the movie started, so that a ‘V’ could form in the rows behind us.
And while I can be quite forgiving about peoples’ differences – after all, some of my closest friends prefer tea to coffee –, I find the excuses people offer for being late – every time – hard to accept. I have one friend – who shall remain nameless, because I like other things about him – who tests me with his tardiness. Especially those times in the fall when we had to take the boat lift out, and he arrived to help just as we were lugging it out of the freezing water. “Thanks for coming. Can I get you a cup of tea?”
When we play golf, I have to lie about the tee time, although he was quick to catch on to that ruse. While I wait, stressing out near the first tee as the starter checks his watch, my friend arrives relaxed as can be. And beats me every time.
That said, I want to live in a world of difference. I’d go out of my mind if we all liked the same music, the same food, the same books. And every pizza had pineapple on it.
After all, the coffee pot would always be empty.