Friday, December 02, 2005
I Like You As Much As I Can Like Anyone Who Thinks I'm An Asshole
What if everything you ever wanted, you got? What if every ambition and every dream you ever dared have--even the secret ones way back in the back of your subconscious that you keep (subconsciously) all to yourself, from yourself because even your subconscious realizes you're a sick bastard for even dreaming them--all just sort of happened to you along the way without any serious effort on your part?
What if right now you were standing exactly where you wanted to be standing, in the house you always wanted, surrounded by the people you always wanted to be surrounded by, doing the only thing you ever seriously imagined yourself doing and getting paid way, way more than you deserve for it. And outside it's sunny and 80 degrees. Unless you don't like that, then it's colder. Or warmer. Or whatever it is you're looking for.
OK, I might have gotten too specific with the weather thing. And stop being so goddamn fickle, you're interrupting my train of thought.
Where was I? Oh yeah: what if astrology wasn't bullshit and the stars were all aligned and the right sign was ascending with the moon and Venus or whatever the hell. What if everything you were ever promised in a fortune cookie you got, so that your life was filled with "happy lucky long journey lucky lucky" until you were the envy of your neighbors, your city and the world in general.
Light and sparkles and ribbons and ponies and sunflowers and snowflakes and hot chocolate and rainbows and kisses and marshmallows and limericks about guys from Nantucket. All the things that make fourth grade girls happy.
What if all that were yours? What do you say about it? How do you express it?
I would like to make a request: please don't.
Nobody wants to hear any of that.
Or in one of my favorite exchanges from one of my favorite movies goes:
"What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?"
"Keep it to yourself."
What I'm saying is I understand schadenfreude. Or if not that, at least the idea that misery loves company. It's the un-subtle undercurrent of blogging in particular and mass media in general.
Nobody wants to read about how much we love our spouses or how unsufferably goddamn adorable our kids are. If you're in the company of two people who are very happy together, you are officially a Third Wheel. Only Ugly Friend Dragged Along On Blind Double Date ranks lower on the scale of social awkwardness. And, OK, maybe Priest At Child's Birthday Party.
People being uncivil in spectacular ways are the incidents and peccadillos that keep grocery store checkout-aisle newsstands stocked and a whole industry propped up. I don't buy those tabloid rags, no. I'm just saying, as an example. They have them for free at the library.
Think about all the best blogposts you've ever read. They're all about somebody either suffering some kind of horrible indignity that--with time and distance--now can be told in an amusing way since we know the skin-grafts took. Or if not indignity then indignation about how someone somewhere in some petty way failed to adhere to the basic code of human conduct at a store or in a parking lot or in a basement sex-dungeon that leads to a long, verbose tirade about the degradation of civility in America among all the people out there except the person writing the blogpost and their current readers.
Good stuff, yes?
And mainstream news works the same way. Car chase, structure fire, double-homicide, race riot, multi-car pile-up, bunnies that can surf... it has to be horrible to be news. Except the last story of the newscast, the "human interest" story, usually about the douchebag who proposed to his girlfriend on the scoreboard at a minor league hockey game. Even then we're supposed to go "Awwww," but really we're going "Minor league hockey... tacky. What a douchebag."
Happiness is just too goddamn personal. It's individual. It's situational. It's subjective. Suffering, somehow, is universal. I think the divorce rate is so high now because people in a happy, stable marriage are eventually alienated from their fellow man. We lose the ability to relate to people as a social species and thus seek re-entry into society at large--usually in the form of drinking a lot in the early afternoon at strip clubs--by dissolution of the restrictive, one-other-person union.
Compare the conversation:
"Man, I can't believe I wasted four years of my life tied to that hag."
"I hear you, brother!"
"Man, I can't believe how lucky I am! It's like we fall in love every day all over again!"
"I'm trying to watch the game, you queer. Shut the fuck up."
Not everyone's mom talks like mine does, but I think you get the general idea.
Not only is good news and good citizenship personal and therefore unrelatable, it's boring as all hell. Consider the following headline:
Local motorist obeys speed limit
I'm not reading that story. Unless it includes the phrases "multi-county", "speeds exceeding 100 MPH" and "spike strip", I don't want to hear about it.
What I'm saying is I understand why the national (or at least super-regional) media is picking up the story about the Riverside County kindergarten teacher who taught while hopped up on meth. It's got all the hallmarks: weird behavior, unexplained nosebleeds, leaving bloody tissues on the floor for kindergarten students to pick up, arrest on campus... it's just the kind of thing that draws eyeballs.
I understand. It's just: why does it have to happen here? And meth, of all things. Couldn't she be strung out on something of higher social standing like cocaine? Or what ever happened to plain-ole teaching class drunk?
I get it. We can all stand around and be horrified together as a people. And the residents of Orange and LA counties can have more ammunition about Riverside and meth, which upsets me to no end. At this rate, we'll never get a Pottery Barn.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.0
PS- Sorry if you were expecting MIHNIoS. The only thing coming out this week is Aeon Flux, which the studio didn't even make available for reviewers to review. Which means it sucks ass. Halle Berry won an Oscar and then did Catwoman. This is Charlize Theron's Catwoman. End of installment.