We "get" someone we know. They're good in our book. Immediate respect, if not acceptance.
We don't get someone we know. They're underdeveloped, undereducated, psycho, or a whole 'nother pie in the Venn Diagram. Whatever the case, they're still beneath Us.
Perhaps they're saved from immediate rejection because we're intrigued. Intrigue postpones judgment until we know enough to make a judgment call. Then, they're either 1) chaff for the chaff pile, 2) so out-there, they're cool (and we're even cooler because we "get" them), or 3) the same as you and me, but aware of elements of existence we may have never heard of.
Nothing is stupid.
Some people train all year to take the title of the next Anyfood-Eating Contest. Well, why would someone take competitive eating so seriously?
Could we at all imagine a "good" reason? For just a moment? Could we bet it all that no competitive eater has a good reason for choosing her aspiration?
I believe there is at least one "good" reason, one reason that would serve as a tiny artery, carrying empathy from one polarized creature to another. If we knew that answer, we might be so much slower to judge competitive eaters. We might "get" them.
Some folks I don't "get," but suspect there may be at least one story with which I could sympathize, which would shatter any preconceived notions I have and perhaps strengthen my character:
- (pseudo-religious) Elvis fans
- nudist families
- mail-order brides
- gangsters over 35
- serious (and successful) artists who have no time for humor in life
- defense lawyers
- priests who are ordained very, very young
- professional boxers
And now that I think of it, any one of these individuals would make a great protagonist for a book.