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Thursday, August 26, 2010


I knew a man named Leroy back in the days when I was working for Salz Tannery. We worked there together. I operated huge mixers used to remove the hair from cow hides. Leroy was a mechanic. I really liked Leroy.

Actually, everyone liked Leroy. He was one of those unique persons whom everyone liked. These people are rare. He seemed to exist in a bubble of good will, held in high esteem by both sides of various social factions without jealousy or general bad feelings. He didn't "suck up," and was not sucked up to by people seeking his favor. He was just inherently pleasant to be around.

I have known a few such people, whom I refer to in my thoughts as Leroys. Now, being of an analytical nature it would not be surprising to find out I have observed myself. I know I am not a Leroy. People are not automatically attracted to me. Neither are they universally repulsed. I have determined that this is partially due to my social defensive tactics. I tend to be charming and abrasive in equal measures, adjusting those qualities to keep people at a manageable emotional distance.

Some people have a longing to be liked and accepted, in the extreme. They want to be Leroys. Most of them are unpleasant to be around simply due to the aura of needy and complex emotions. A true Leroy does not need to be accepted, and by virtue of that are more often accepted and in more places. That centered-ness might be one of the features that makes a Leroy so attractive.

The social interactions of a Leroy aren't driven by fear, or avarice, or some complex complex of emotions that make people who they are. The Leroy has a balance of social needs, is not predatory in relationships, and has a genuine affection for people as people. The Leroy gives in reasonable measure, yet in giving does not invite the predation of emotional predators. The Leroy is comfortable enough in his (or her) own skin to interact honestly with people without presenting that honesty as a wall.

That observation regarding honesty used as a wall was revelatory to me regarding my own non-Leroy-ness. I am honest in the extreme. Until I made this observation I did not realize that I used my honesty as one of my tools to keep people at a safe distance. I already realized that my honesty was not just the consequence of values like integrity. I simply don't have the kind of memory necessary for successful dishonesty, don't care for the complications of dishonesty, and don't have the need for approval from other humans to drive me to be dishonest for social gain.

Leroys, then, don't have the need to keep people at a distance. They don't have a cloying need to draw people close. The have a phenomenal sense of social balance. They are genuinely like this, inherently like this. It is a natural nature, not contrived or assumed.

I now recall a friend who was pretty good at mimicking the Leroy. He had it down pretty well, unlike the cliche used-car-salesman personality that is patently not genuine.  I think he longed to be a Leroy, but wasn't quite. I must admit that I tested his Leroy armor from time to time, and on occasion found a chink and saw the conflicted and angry person hiding inside.

Much as I admire the Leroy, I have to wonder if the Leroy is simply a mythical beast, an artifact of the flaws in my observations? I never had the opportunity to observe the Leroy at home, in contact solely with his (or her) intimate associations. Is the Leroy a Leroy at home? Lacking a suitable blind from which to make the necessary observations, I really can't say.

Whether mythical or real, I find the Leroy useful as a foil against which to test my own concept of self. If the Leroy is the perfect balance at the center of the scale of human interactive personalities, where do I fall? What Leroy qualities, real or imagined, might I adopt to improve myself as a human?

Where are you, Leroy? I have some questions.

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