There’s this thing I notice so, so often in the world. I wish there was a good name for it – Murfingburben Syndrome or Dumonification, or SOMETHING – so that I could just name it and you’d know what I was talking about. But I’ve never come across a word for it, or even a good description. So I just call it “the 180-degree thing.” By which I mean “180 degrees opposite.”
It’s like this: You hear that something is a certain way, and you believe it, sometimes for years. But one day you discover that, out in the real world, the thing is exactly opposite the way you were told it was. It is 180 degrees opposite of what it should be. If it’s something that was right with the world, it is now wrong – so wrong it doesn’t just sit there being wrong, it moves at light speed in the direction of wrong, so that it becomes not just un-right, but anti-right.
Say that terrific uncle you remember so fondly from your childhood, the one who took you and your little sister for ice cream, and to amusement parks, and to libraries, and camping, for YEARS … only when you’re 48 and coming home from grand old Uncle Larry’s funeral does your sister break down sobbing and tell you he was steadily molesting her the whole time, but she never told because she didn’t think anybody would believe her.
Yeah, like that.
It’s like the axle of the world flips upside down, so that everything slams to a halt for a second, and when it starts turning again, it’s going the exact wrong way. The sun rises in the west, sets in the east. Except it was always that way — it’s just that you didn’t notice it.
But it could also be something that you thought was bad, but then find out is really, really good. The standoffish retired man next door, the old guy you never liked, steps out in traffic one day to toss a little girl out of the way of a speeding car, and then dies himself in the collision. You find out later he was a frequent blood donor, a tireless volunteer at the local homeless pet rescue center, and was sending half his monthly pension to a poor family in Nicaragua. And he wasn’t standoffish, only shy.
Like that, too.
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