I knew this day would come. Even before Infinite Winter began, I knew I’d be right here. And sure enough, here I am. To be honest, I’m a little surprised it took this long to happen.
I’ve fallen behind in the reading.
Life has gotten in the way. Teaching. Youth grouping. More teaching. Family obligations. Grading. Even more teaching. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
So, here I am, about 50 pages behind.
I thought about just BS-ing my way through a post. I know the book well enough to pull it off. I might not fool everyone, but I’m sure I could fool a lot of them.
But then I would feel guilty. I’d feel like I was letting you all down. Like I was failing in my job as an Infinite Winter guide. I take my responsibilities very seriously, after all.
Fortunately, during last week’s Group Chat, a conversation topic caught my attention and I’ve been thinking about it all week. I think it was Nathan who brought up the idea of first impressions of this motley bunch of characters. Hal Incandenza. Don Gately. Kate Gompert. Orin Incandenza. Tiny Ewell. Even Poor Tony Krause. Even though when we first meet them we see that they are pretty horrible people, there is something endearing about them.
Hal has a total breakdown in the middle of his college admissions interview, and yet we feel his frustration with his inability to communicate with those around him.
Don Gately is burglarizing some rich dude’s house and taking selfies with the burglary victim’s toothbrush up his ass. He even kills a guy. And yet, we are hoping that this time in jail and in rehab will help him get his life in order.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
Sure, they aren’t presented in the most flattering light at the beginning, but as we get to know them, we are quick to forgive and hopeful they can redeem themselves. Some do. Other’s fail to. But we are cheering for (most of) them all the way to page 1079.
Why is that? Why do we find these sometimes horrible and hideous individuals so endearing?
I think that it’s because we see a little bit of ourselves in each one. We see our flaws and insecurities and our imperfections. And yet, we have our redeeming qualities as well. Like our friends in the pages of IJ, we may have a rough exterior. At first glance, we may not be very likeable either. But deep down, there’s someone worth getting to know.