I am lazy. Not just body lazy, either. Brain lazy. I’ll use my imagination when I darn well feel like it. Until then, I am picking my mental default and using that. It’s a person? Fine, it’s me. Oh, it’s a black guy? Fine, Bill Cosby. Now it’s a lady. My Helen Hunt. Black lady? Whoopi Goldberg. These are defaults I substitute in my brain so I don’t have to think too hard. It works for other things too. The default animal is a cat. The default object is a shoe. The default food is an ear of corn. The default number is 42. I have one for everything. And since the absolute default for a person is me, I tend to speak, write, and think as though everyone is me. I say ‘he’, not ‘he or she’. I say ‘Yes, sir.’ to women. Not sexism, laziness. I talk about places in my hometown as though the guy from India has been there. I expect everyone in the world to speak English, eat pizza, and grow up in Bayonne, NJ. In my head, I am afloat in a sea of me.
This has caused me no end of trouble in my life. I can’t give directions, because I assume that everyone who needs to drive me somewhere knows where it is. I won’t even mention it when we miss a turn. I will just think to myself, “I wonder why we passed my house. Are we going somewhere else first?” Doubly troublesome is when I have a default person assigned to a name in my head. “Hey, have you seen Nick?” “Nick ‘The Slasher’ McGurk?” “No… Nick Johnson, in accounting.” “Oh, right. Duh.” I also have the habit of assuming that other people are feeling the same way I am. I’ll be watching TV and someone will go make a sandwich and I will be appalled. “Why are they making a sandwich? I’m not hungry.”