My primary character flaw, is that I kind of like flawed people. I think I feel more comfortable around them. Perhaps I am not alone.
Every Christmas we get a few of those annoying form letter greetings where someone you knows gives you a breakdown of what has been going on throughout the year. They kind of go like this:
Dear, (your name is scratched in, pen), hope you had a good year. I just wanted to fill you in on what has happened to me since the last time we spoke. My promotion has kept me so busy, that my wife jokes that she has to work harder on her own to spend all that extra cash. We are having a full life, studying Latin at night school as well as volunteering at the food bank. My son is doing great, he is almost done with his phd studies. My daughter was valedictorian for her year as well as most popular girl. We just finished a major renovation on our home to add a wellness wing where it is fun to hang out, sauna and get a massage from our Filipino domestic. My wife hasn’t gained an ounce even after that course she took for enrichment, on wine tasting and gourmet dining. In fact, she still works in a little modelling on the side. We travelled to Africa to visit the school we built there for orphans, and had a cruise to help us round out our busy schedule. I hope that you are having a good time at (fill in the blank) and enjoying a full life…etc.
Get the picture? Perfect people. They beat you to death with how wonderful their life is. After being regaled with these kind of form letters for a number of years I refused to read them. Why? Because I think they are two dimensional. They are not exactly lies but they are only part of the truth. They are like no one that you or I might recognize from real life. Fake people will build you sand castles in the air and ask you to believe them. Real people however, make sand castles in the air and then kick them down afterwards for fun. That is really, more human and far more interesting.
Everybody loves flaws. They make people three dimensional, and they punctuate our humanity. We can all relate to someone with flaws.
Think of those wonderfully flawed people you know from your past. One who comes to mind for me was a kid from my high school. Craig. He had that gleam in his eye, if there was something to be challenged, he would do it. He was the bad kid who made a game of it, he was bad on purpose, and with flair.
We used to have corporal punishment when I went to school and there were a few teachers who prided themselves as being disciplinarians, not to be trifled with. To some people, that might be a warning. To someone like Craig, it was bet waiting to happen. He just had to find a way to challenge the teacher in a way that made it personal. By pushing the right buttons, he could get a teacher enraged by messing with his ego and acting like a smart-ass. “Sir, I like your haircut. Did your wife do it?”
When he was called up to get his punishment, he would swagger and smirk and make faces that would enrage the teacher even more, and the best part was, that he was positively a stoic and a spartan in the way he could take pain with a smile. The teacher could never break him. It was the best show going, the contest of personal vanity faced with absurdity. Craig was an asset because he made school fun. Not only could he take a licking and keep on ticking, his flaws were a welcome relief from the tedium of real life. Flawed people are necessary agents of change.
We had a science teacher who had a hard time concealing that science actually bored the hell out of him. If you could get him talking about hunting however, you could forget about theories and formulas for the day once you set him off. He would bring in dead animals and call up demonstrators to skin them in class. Once he cooked badger stew on the bunson burners. He advised us that the best scientific method to beat a cold was not to take cold medicine, but to get stinking drunk. If you could get your blood alcohol to a level of .2% or .3% it would be enough to kill any virus and he was the empirical evidence to prove it. Instead of malingering for two weeks, you would have a killer hang-over for just one day, and get up the next day good as new. The teacher was definitely flawed Yet, he made science interesting and at a level where it engaged real life. Flawed people make boring things interesting.
Sometimes people have flaws that are entertaining and they don’t even know it. I look forward to mass every Sunday because of one guy. Opera man. He was kicked out of the choir, not because he couldn’t sing, but because he sang everything at a volume that drowns everyone else out. The choir was just a poor staging for his solo act, he was trying to stand out, and he did - like a sore thumb. During Mass you can see people look around and start to giggle when his voice rises up like Caruso, drowning out everyone in the Church. There is always a crescendo at the end of every hymn where he lingers on the note just a little longer than anybody else, giving a mini performance. People laugh, and sometimes they clap. Not because opera man is good, it’s because he is so bad that he is great entertainment. He is beautifully flawed and with opera man present, you never have to worry that anyone will notice you singing out of tune. Flawed people make you feel better about yourself.
The world needs people like opera man. They are the ballast that rights the whole boat. At Christmas time if you ever contemplate sending out a form letter telling of all your amazing achievements in the year, don’t just go for platitudes, throw in a few real gems. In fact, you might even make a few up quirks just to make it more interesting. Let’s face it, you will make some real friends then, because everyone likes a few flaws. They make us all a little more human.