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October 15th, 2018

I'm serious about teasing.

My late friend Mike Pearl was good at teasing. He could sound harsh. Key word: "sound." People noticed that he seemed insulting, but he really wasn't.

Here's the thing. He never teased me. I think Mike sensed my experience, where almost anyone who teased me, and who was not one of my family members, would tease me meanly. (Family could tease me, but with love. Thank goodness.) I think he knew I'd likely feel bad about it, not be amused by it.

More context: I've said it before, but I was a serious kid. Which, unfortunately and frustratingly, made me a better target for teasing. Laughing at myself didn't come naturally. Any sense of humor I have, any ability to be funny myself, I've built up. I'm probably doing heavy-lifting when I do that. You can learn it, and I kind of admire people who do learn it, but with them and with me, I can sense that effort, that heavy lifting. And I can feel it. At core, I'm still serious.

So, I think, Mike cut me slack. And I truly appreciate that he did.

Without getting into specifics which would probably show that I am fully capable of being a jackass, at times I've wanted to tease. Some of those times, I caught myself: wait, why do I want to tease them? And I've found a mean undercurrent in some of those thoughts. (Slight context: I'd wanted to, but resisted, saying to someone "You're just mad I'm not gay so you could never ask me out, right?") And I resisted. This is important, and needed.

Teasing should make people feel good. I want that to be truer. Similar to how flirting should make everyone involved feel good. (And now I want to flirt.)