So there's this guy. His name is Hitman.
And he's my friend. Or really, he's more than my friend; he's more like my older brother or cousin or someone who watches over me and takes care of me and makes sure that I'm not lying on a floor somewhere dying slowly of malnutrition. He forbids me to eat chocolate and ice cream as a meal and instead arranges lunches of lemonade, apples and carefully apportioned pieces of Ghirardelli.
He's hilarious. He's completely willing to drop everything and arrange for my Thursday night entertainment, help me look up Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and understand the intricacies behind jazz clubs in Harlem. He recommends movies, acts like a perfect gentleman and maintains a delicate balance between challenging me and refraining from completely destroying my ideals. He's always there to encourage me, cheer me up when I am sad or otherwise amuse me. It's impossible to be unhappy after talking to him; he says something so outrageous that there's nothing you can do but sputter and laugh.
The peculiar thing is that when I initially met him, I thought he was an arrogant bastard. This was in part because of his controversial opinions (the logic behind which I did not fully understand) and his seeming penchant to provoke discussion by forcing it upon people in a strong, blatant and provocative way. I wondered at the strong nature of his views and instinctively shied away from his sensationalist techniques. The first time I knew myself to be wrong was when he helped me, all unknowing, deal with an issue that had been bothering me for the longest time. This had to do with Israel and my inability to love the land as I felt I should. Hitman validated this belief and offered an alternative way of understanding one's connection with the land, one that I could handle. But what I felt was an overarching sense of relief and indebtedness to this person who had somehow understood me and who had not condemned me, who had seen that for me this was not something so simple as a need to spend more time there in efforts to convert me to the side of the light. No, what he had offered me was his understanding and goodwill; he told me that the very fact that I was searching demonstrated that I was not wholly without feeling and I found myself surprised that someone I had seen as being arrogant could demonstrate such kindness toward another.
It was then that I realized my error and determined that I must try to find out more about this person, a person I had been so quick to judge and whom I did not know at all. And the more I came to know him the more I came to respect him. His views and ideas were not so very different from mine; his motivations were pure, even if I did not agree with his theory of implementation. There was logic behind his thoughts, a method to his madness. Indeed, he was not mad at all, but very sane and very unhappy about various situations. And his strongly worded opinions and ideas were borne of that passion to change a situation that hurt and upset him, were pure in that they truly demonstrated the good that he desired to accomplish. I came to realize that he cared very much about people and their plight; that he would not suffer the abuse of a child, was disturbed by the thought of traditional norms or customs dictating the manner in which young men and women did or did not get married, that he was deeply upset over society inflicting itself upon others, society's demands dictating the amount of money that others would spend upon a wedding or the show that they would put on. He would be nothing but himself; he would refuse to give an inch, to change at all in order to impress other people or to earn their respect. He was who he was and if others could not appreciate that, so be it.
It struck me as peculiar that he would wear the mask of an arrogant elitist when in truth he cared so much for other people, but it seems to me now a form of protection, a way of distancing himself from those who do not care to look beneath the surface. There is only so much that one can give and only so far that one can open oneself up to others; there are those who are deserving and those who are not. Hitman chooses the people who are deserving; he determines what he shall share with others and how they shall know him. And having been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to know him a little, what treasures lie beneath the surface! Aside from his vast knowledge in terms of scholarly, biblical and secular reading, there is no view that can shock him, nothing I can say that will earn me dismissal or censure. It is such a joy to be around someone who will not condemn you for your thoughts but who will instead hear them out and weigh them according to their measure, respond and frustrate you by refusing to help you, instead confusing you further. Hitman delights in giving you non-answers or informing you that there are none, making you divide by zero, forcing you into a logical bind and then smiling grimly (or laughing devilishly) as you admit that there is no way out of the problem.
I also admire Hitman's candid nature. He is very honest. He says things as they are and in the way they appear to him, no matter how popular or unpopular his opinions will make him. He knows how he is perceived and he further knows himself. He can identify his best and worst qualities, knows which skills are particularly his, what he is good at and what is not his strong suit. It is a rare quality to recognize all this in oneself but Hitman does. Hitman unabashedly and honestly admits his achievements and failings; he does not flaunt his achievements so much as mention them nonchalantly, they are no more and no less than he expected. He sets goals for himself and desires to go further; he wishes to climb higher, to do more and to be more. Despite his qualifications and his insistence that he is an elitist, he does not think of himself as the ultimate; he has role models whom he admires more and whom he strives to be like. It is clear that sometimes he recognizes deficiencies in himself or even feels negatively about himself; he is a person as all people are and such is human nature.
He wishes to learn. It is rare to find a true lover of knowledge, someone who desires to learn even though this may affect his GPA, even though he may no longer have the best possible scores or grades on his transcript. This is someone who will go for the harder, more difficult class because the little that he understands will still afford him more and make him work harder than the easier class. I truly admire that. It's one of the rarest qualities, to encounter someone who wishes to work hard and to be challenged, who would rather do poorly in an excellent, difficult and wonderful class than excel in an easy but less demanding one. And he does not boast of this; he does not make this into a big deal. It's part of his life philosophy, straight and candidly stated as all his opinions are, something that simply is. I wonder sometimes if he realizes how different it makes him from so many others I know...
He is stoic. When he cannot change a situation, he does not allow it to defeat him but simply ignores it; he sees it as beneath him to respond to pathetic and idiotic attempts to bother him or to somehow wound his pride. He is able to control his emotions and respond rationally, even if there is much that he would prefer to say or do; he realizes that there is a point where discussion and dialogue is no longer productive and he therefore refuses to engage in any. And this too is something I admire because it is something I could not do; if I were unjustly and unfairly derided or maligned I would be bothered by it and I would wish to do something, no matter what it was, in order to stop this from occurring. I do not think I would admit that sometimes situations were out of my control, do not think that I would so stoically remain silent and refuse to stoop to the level of another. It is only once that I have seen him lose his composure, and even then it was not for long; it was so shocking to me that I have not forgotten and do not think I will ever forget.
Hitman is kind. He is especially kind to me, who does not deserve it, having given him nothing of particular value other than my conversation on particularly unhappy days, during which time he has succeeded in cheering me. Hitman always wishes to know what's new by me, how I am and how I'm feeling, wants to make sure that nobody has hurt or upset me lately, is willing to dedicate entire Sundays to my education, edification and entertainment, even if it means that he will have to miss class. His offers are always sincere; he is not one to offer to do something or give me something and not follow up. He requests very little; in fact, he does not request anything at all. He is completely content with what he has and does not require anything of me. This makes it difficult to give anything of value back to him, which is perhaps his intention. Hitman has never desired gifts; he has only desired the company of people whom he feels know how to think and who have different strengths from him, so that he may learn and grow.
So whether he scares me to death and causes me to jump three feet in the air, frightens me with his interpretation of Claire's everlasting virginity or grandly offers to slay any who bother me (hence the name), Hitman is a fantastic, wonderful person, an intelligent and caring friend, and a person whom it would be very easy to misjudge and to completely misunderstand (not that I claim to understand the many facets of Hitman!) He can be provocative and sensationalist but almost always has an underlying cause, he appreciates a good argument and he gives honest answers. He truly desires to learn, he truly cares and he's a really good person. I am told he is also sarcastic but he refrains from exercising his evil streak in my presence...or rather, as I frequently tell him, he is horrible but I enjoy it.
I am so lucky to know him.
Hurrah for Hitman! In your presence, Lady Dragon shall never have to use her jewel-encrusted sword. After all, her adopted cousin/ brother's protection is all she requires.
May you all be so fortunate as to have a friend like him!