When you go fishing, you’re never quiet sure what’s going to bite. No matter how much you customize your rod, your tackle, or your technique, it is the fish that decides if it’s going to take the bait or not. It doesn’t care what you’ve done. Your intent is inconsequential. All that matters is that very moment, a sum of everything that has happened and that hasn’t, an intersection of lived experiences from the fisherman’s first time holding his child to the fish’s blubbering around. It is an centimetre, a mere flick of the wrist, and yet in the tick-tock that seems too quick to even take notice of, anything can happen.
Recently I have felt this fleeting control. Having written an article entitled, “Feminism without women,” I was surprised at some of the backlash to it. Not because there was backlash. To have a response is great. It allows the possibility to dissect my ignorance, create a further smattering of discussion, and hopefully move together on a collected issue. This, I believe, is what the article is about. “We need each other to fight against the world we’ve created by first tearing it apart.”
But in some isolated pockets, this is not happening. Instead attacks on my person and various straw-man fallacies (at least form the writer’s perspective) have been created. I read in places that I was displaying my oppressive dominance in writing the article when in reality I was strapped for volunteers. I read that I was lauding men’s experiences over females when I was doing nothing of the sort. I was told that I part of the problem, that I was the problem, and that I am one. And I also read that I was foolish, reprehensible, and probably stupid.
These reactions may be inevitable, so know that I’m not complaining. I’m sure that even this writing will cause some to nod to my idiocy. I know that somedays I do it too.
And know that in having to clarify my points, I may have failed as a writer. Yet I was hurt, disappointed, and wished that I was included in the broader discussion rather than just a magnified subject of it. This is not because I was integral to the discussion, but because if I’m not part of it, the dividing lines only grow larger and ignorance – my own and those arguing against me – only deepens.
But as I was letting the sadness get the better of me, drafting up counter arguments, and trying to find a way to clarify my points, I was reminded of a time when I was six and I was given my first bag of jellybeans. It says all I can ever do about an opinion on an opinion on an opinion. Here is that story:
It was impossible: the whole of the universe found its way in my palm. Of course, I didn’t know it then; I was six so such ignorance can be excused. Basic things eluded me. I didn’t know about ozonolysis. I didn’t realize the harms in trans fats. Hell, some days I couldn’t even urinate outside the seams of my pants.
But there it was after everything: the universe – a roaring red rolling onto a unblemished white, a vacuous black without the slighest glimmer, a blue, green, yellow and purple that could only be the fruits of the Big Bang, and it tittered and tottered as I tottered and tittered.
It was a gift from my grandfather. He smiled. He told me that here in these jellybeans was everything I’d need to know about the world and those in it.
I found it hard to believe, but not unbelievable. In a way, he was right – I knew I was hungry after all. Jellybeans would be all I needed, all I wanted. And bite-by-bite, a little piece of everything would become mine.
So in the comfort of my room with no responsibilities besides those that I invented and imagined, I ate and I ate and I ate in that order. My hands were a sticky rainbow paste and my digits were an abstract mess of food colouring and sugar.
Just as I was about to slurp my fourteenth droplet of paradise, my sister stomped in. “What are you doing?”
“Eating jellybeans.” I said.
“I see that. But you know you shouldn’t eat the white ones.”
“They’re unhealthy. Something something about chemicals. Grandma told me.”
“Yeah, so I wouldn’t eat them anymore.”
With a turn, she was gone. My hand dove in the plastic bag again, yet there wasn’t the sense of glee anymore. A generous handful procured a couple of white jellybeans. I picked them out carefully, and placed them in a tissue beside my bed. They looked as they did five minutes ago but they weren’t the same. They were harmful, chemically-latent, death pills. Most of all, they weren’t mine anymore. I didn’t want them.
I continued onto the green pieces. A bit different taste than the white, I admitted, but delicious nonetheless.
A knock, a voice, my father. “Son – why is there a napkin here?”
“Sister told me that the whites were bad for me.”
“Son – you’re wasting them, you know. What did I tell you about wasting food?”
“Exactly. Because you’re not supposed to do it. There’s nothing else to say.”
“It’s okay. Eat those slowly. Don’t spoil your dinner.”
Doors went a’slamming, feet went a’ scurrying, and I was alone in my room again. I looked back to the white jellybeans. They were the same as before, yet somehow after the door closed and a new ocean of candy swam in my hand, they were entirely different once again. Even their weight felt as though it had changed.
One popped in my mouth, another soon followed. As I was savoring the third, my Mom walked in. “Kacper?”
“Yes, Mom.” My lips stuck together with the wet sugar.
“What did I tell you about eating jellybeans?”
“Well I don’t want you eating them at all.”
“Because I said so.”
The bag was practically glued to my fingers. She had to tear them away. “You don’t know what’s good for you yet, Kacper.” She patted my head. “And that just isn’t my opinion; it’s the truth.”
“It’s alright. You were just doing what you knew, little as that may be.” Her soft hands combed my mushroom cut.
“It wasn’t enough?”
“No.” Her fingers stopped on my scalp. “Want something else to eat?”
“It’s okay. I’m not hungry anymore.”
“Okay.” She looked at me hard in the eye and walked out with a final pat. The jellybeans jingled to the sound of her step.