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"I'm always free to interpret a tad more generously …"

I remain surprised by how quickly even animals jump to conclusions about others. People seem infamous for our ability to conclude with almost no supporting evidence. The merest glance informs many of our actions, often resulting in anything but equal opposing reactions. Even I frequently jump first and only rarely ask questions after because my reaction seemed to need nothing more than the barest supporting evidence, if even that. I have no idea how often I'm wrong because I only very rarely find reason to second guess my instantaneously drawn conclusions. They imprint immediately and persist in spite of refuting evidence or experience. The GlancingKnow behaves as if it actually does know all.

I suppose that this facility results in certain efficiencies, but evolution never was an efficiency-seeking undertaking.
Every organism seems rife with inefficiency, perhaps more informed by expediency or, more likely, random mutation. Species do not judge their fitness against any theoretical ideal, but against real-world survival, a distinctly non-rational progression, if not wholly irrational, probably more dependent upon luck than pluck. We surmise much more than we ever know.

A certain tyranny results. Anyone might ungenerously interpret even the best of intentions. A kindness might first seem just so much cruelty and require no small maturing before becoming more accurately sorted. Our latest kitten Molly seems terrified of me. When I first reached out to touch her at the shelter, she bit a hunk of flesh out of my right wrist and left three long razor slashes down two fingers into my palm. She'd apparently perceived me as a genuine threat, Snidely Whiplash rather than the Dudley Do-right I'd imagined myself being. Her initial impression seems to have stuck, for she startles and shrinks whenever I move near, though I've learned to avoid those fangs and claws.

Molly much prefers The Muse over my presence, though she receives much more of my attention than she receives of The Muse's. I'm the litter box emptier and the food and water allocator. Still, Molly quickly moves beneath a bed when she sees me coming. She might offer a brief sniff and submit to an even briefer head scratch from me, but after a week, she still won't voluntarily come near me. When she sees me coming, she runs in an opposite direction and hides beneath something.

I asked the adenoidal attendant at the shelter if the trapper who captured her sports a mustache. I didn't feel even a little bit surprised when she confirmed my suspicion. I realize that I'm a big, more or less generic human to Molly. Huge and interchangeable, recognizable by a few prominent attributes, like her mottled coat featuring a Phantom of the Opera dark patch framing one side of her face distinguishes her for me. I inescapably carry my maleness and my mustache, a perfect-enough match for her GlancingKnow. I must really seem like Snidely Whiplash to her. Her GlancingKnow instantly understands that I match the very same pattern for her as the man who once terrified her with his Have-A-Heart trap. I suspect that we'll be a long time extinguishing that traumatic first impression.

My glancing knowledge serves me well and also poorly. I suspect that I only rarely ever know which gift it's providing in any knowing instant. I suspect that it keeps me safe just about as often as it imperils me, and that, between simple inattention and jumping to near constant conclusions, nobody ever really sees what's actually presented before them. I can only sometimes second guess myself, and even then it's still mostly guesses that derive my second consideration conclusions. These tiny acts seem the most frequent trespasses we visit upon our fellows and upon ourselves, the small certainties that need no reinforcement to stick. However else I might characterize myself, I'm one presumptive bastard. Molly's recurring terror reminds me that I'm always free to interpret a tad more generously than my terrorist GlancingKnow might encourage me to perceive.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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