I plummet with Cliff

I don’t get on well with tolerant people. Don’t ask me why, but the more tolerant someone is, the less he is able to tolerate me. Likewise with loving people. As soon as someone starts talking about much they love the whole world, I lose any hope that they will find my company bearable.

I just took a walk with Cliff, the significant other (or shack-up honey, depending upon your level of tolerance) of a friend. First, he bemoaned the failure of society for letting a man freeze to death on the sidewalk, as recently happened here. I pointed out that the man hadn’t asked for shelter and had drunk himself unconscious on a night of record cold. Cliff could barely tolerate my callousness.

Then the subject of changing the name Centennial Boulevard to Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard came up. Cliff assumed that my objection was racist. I don’t know why he assumed this other than for the fact that I am from Mississippi, and tolerant people usually take this to mean that I just have to be racist. I don’t think I ever did convince him that my objection actually arose from my belief that no street name should be longer than four syllables. Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard has seven, not counting the three in boulevard. Cliff was right in arguing that everyone abbreviates it to MLK, but I thought that this proved my point. Take Eugene’s presidential streets. It’s not Ulysses Simpson Grant Street or James Knox Polk Street; it’s just plain old Grant Street and Polk Street, so why not King Boulevard?

Besides, when you look at the kind of people who are referred to by all three names, it’s serial killers for heaven’s sakes (Lee Boyd Malvo, John Allen Muhammad, David Parker Ray, John Wayne Gacy, George Walker Bush—need I continue?). Okay, Mark David Chapman and Lee Harvey Oswald weren’t serial killers, but at least they were killers. My point is that two names are adequate for everyone but murderers. Anybody know Christ’s middle name (his middle initial was H)? How about Mother Teresa’s (maybe it was Dear)?

Not content to let Cliff think I was but half an asshole when I could go for the full monty, I added that if someone's parents had the audacity to give them a name that was longer than three syllables, they should have the courtesy to abbreviate it. For example, how megalomaniacal do you have to be to expect everyone to call you Elizabeth when you could go by Liz, Beth, or Libbie? I mean, come on, how much of a person’s day do you expect them to spend saying your name?

If a person boasts of his tolerance but can only tolerate the opinions of people who agree with him, then how is he better than the rest of us? Or if he says he is loving but only loves those who love him, how is he more enlightened than you and I? Maybe I’ll ask Cliff about these things someday when we take a walk together, someday when hell freezes over and its drunks perish.