40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 20

chris/ November 23, 2020

Even assholes can be insightful. (Or spot bullshit, anyway.)

The first visitor I had during my freshman year at Bradley University was a friend from 12-step meetings, a middle-aged man who was sort of a mentor/advisor in many ways. It’s wild, looking back on it now, to think that I’m older now than he was when he came to see me in my dorm and deliver a mini-fridge.

He chatted up some of the guys on my floor as was his usual M.O.–talking to young adult males–and then he and I stepped out to get coffees from the cafe across the street. When we returned to my dorm, someone had scrawled a note in all caps on my dorm door:

KEEP

THE

CHILD

MOLESTER

OFF

OUR

FLOOR.

On one hand, these guys were assholes.

On the other hand, decades later, I finally began coming to terms with how my relationship with that man warped my sense of who I am, who I want to be, and who I should be… largely because of his warped senses of all those things. I’ve heard that hurt people hurt people… And maybe misinformed people misinform people, too?

Would I have been better off if I had heeded the words of the cowardly, bigoted, anonymous residents of my dorm? Maybe. But the reasons would have been all wrong.

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