And don’t you forget it, Grandad. Don’t try that old business about having seen it all before just because you did actually see it all before. If I didn’t think of it after watching YouTube, it doesn’t count.
And don’t try rolling your eyes at me, old man. None of that senior sarcasm or you’ll be sent to your room with no supper. Wait? What do you mean it’s your food? Just because you’ve paid for it and cooked it and served it at your own table doesn’t mean you have a right to enjoy it if I disapprove. There are principles involved and the main one is I am young and right and you are old and wrong. And I am the judge of it all…I’ve got the internet.
And in a few years I’ll be able to vote and drink beer and smoke cigarettes and get the dole and post angry memes on social media whenever I want to. I got rights.
Then I toned it down a little and became empathetic.
Lately I haven’t had the time to maintain either facade and have settled for just being pathetic. It’s a great relief and people don’t press you for things as much as before. Not after you’ve thrown up on their shoes.
A fiend* suggested that I spend some time and develop my ability to become antipathetic… but I was hostile to that. Active meanness requires a good deal of time and a surprising level of expense – what with the cost of whips these days. A few years back you could get a good dog whip for a tenner and expect it to last you through an entire kindergarten class. No more – the rubbish they import from Asia just doesn’t stand up to the wear.
Of course there is always the Buddhist road – where you don’t give either a good or a bad goddamn – or the atheist one that removes the religious component from that apathy. I am tempted – it would certainly cut down on charitable contributions to the people who do good works and the cost of the ammunition for those who don’t. But would it make no difference at all in the end ? Who cares?
- A fiend is a friend who keeps their “r’s ” out of your face…
Enshrine that name in your memory. Bookmark him on your computer. Read his quotes. One of which is:
” Never miss a chance to shut up. ”
I need to read this every day – early. I had a recent experience of being in the company of someone who should have done so too. It was a good lesson to watch from a distance. Out of hearing is a very good distance…
But enough of this. I wish to propose a paraphrase to Will’s advice – if his shade will let me. Consider ” Never miss a chance to be excluded “. Actually, if Will had said it it would probably have been ” Never miss a chance to be ignored “. A little different feeling, but just as good.
Being excluded is a wonderful thing. It posits there being something or someone that doesn’t want you, and that means they don’t want you for a reason. Now there’s a story behind that reason – all of a sudden you have a mystery to enquire into.
Of course some things are not a mystery – a black person applying to join the local chapter of the KKK doesn’t have to wonder too much why they send his application form back with a curt rejection. That same man applying to join a London club and receiving a rejection – probably phrased in more gentlemanly terms – does indeed have a mystery and might be able to set an enquiry afoot. And then all hell may break loose.
Being excluded from a social circle is also an intriguing thing, and generally rewards investigation. Be careful what you look for, however, and who and what you ask, because there’s a danger that some fool might reconsider and invite you in. Then you’re sunk.
On a romantic note, who knows how many people have been rendered happy during their later years by rejection of an early suit and exclusion from someone’s home? They sometimes find out much later when they see what the former loved one has become. Then they will be wise if they follow Mr. Roger’s original advice.
In short, when someone tells you to go away because you are not wanted, take the opportunity to leg it. The world is wide and there are plenty of other things to do.
It’s no good attracting attention if you do nothing with it once you have it. You must saw a log apart if you want to make a toothpick. So, too, with the human consciousness. No-one ever forgets a pest.
This is not an essay aimed at the young. They do not need coaching on how to annoy. They burst from womb, egg, or open sore with the ability to make people unhappy. They do not need help.
But the older person who has passed many decades being civil, polite, or kind may be handicapped when it comes to being really annoying – they have long had it conditioned out of them and may baulk at the restarting process. Fortunately, retirement gives a lot more time to re-learn old skills and the behaviour of the general public toward older people encourages a little bloody-mindedness in return.
- Drive slowly and well. That will annoy the young who wish to speed past. When you get to a car park, drive slowly and poorly. That will take care of everyone else.
- Witter. You need not use wit while you do it, but keep a razor tongue ready for when someone starts to become exasperated and/or smartalecky. Then fix them in your sights and let them have it. Polite and cold is better than vulgar and hot, but go with whatever feels good at the time. It’s hard to resist a round from a prepared position.
- Be frugal until the time comes to be lavish. Then keep on being frugal…and demand the senior’s discount on it as well. A penny saved is a penny earned and a penny denied to someone else is even better.
- Be overtly and overly friendly. Gush. Be everyone’s favourite auntie, especially if you are an uncle. Interfere. Pry. Advise. Judge. Pronounce. Nothing you say will be taken the slightest notice of…until later. Then it will be keenly resented at a time when nothing can be done about it.
- No-one likes a complainer. But who the hell wants to make a career of being liked? Was Al Capone liked?
- A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, even if the medicine is arsenic. Be sweet as you hurt people. They’ll still get hurt but you’ll look good.
- Nostalgia isn’t as good as it used to be. But it’s better than the cheap nostalgia you get down the shops these days.
- In the old days you could say and do many things that are considered socially unacceptable nowadays…by people who take drugs, public money, and advantage of anything going. Does this suggest a target audience…in the best possible sense of the word ” target “? I leave it up to you, and I’m sure you won’t disappoint me.
- General ignorance of history – both recent and ancient – means that if you are more conversant with it, you can edit the stuff to suit yourself…and your listeners hardly ever know different. Try not to go too far with the mythology but do feel free to bring every conversation round to your point of view.
- Be good to small animals. Even if you treat people atrociously, you are always seen in a good light if the cats and dogs like you. You can be a swine to a human, but treat pigs humanely.
No matter who you are, you have enemies. You may be the meekest Quaker or the toughest biker – the chief priest of a religion of peace or the commanding general of an army of destruction…it makes no difference. Even if you have spent your life selflessly dedicated to destroying the innocent and laying waste to the land, someone will have it in for you. You must grin and bear it.
Lest the smile become rictus sardonicus, however, there are certain things you can do to make the battle more fun. One of them is to become pally, chummy, and matey with whoever hates you.
Now some people think that this is a kindly act and attribute it to Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or other religious sensibilities. They applaud and beam at you when show mercy and care for others. Little do they suspect that you are getting terrible revenge all the while.
Suppose someone hates you and has always done so. The reason for their enmity may be lost in the mists of time – they can no more tell why than they could account for where flies or Federal Senators go in winter. They just do. Use this unthinking hostility as a signal to start doing good for them. Buy them presents – and make sure that the presents are opened in the presence of others. Offer to treat them to drinks. The fact that you are promising hospitality and wassail in Supercheap Auto or Spotlight is beside the point – you’ve made the offer and if they don’t take you up on it they look …well…super cheap and in the spotlight.
Always forgive them their sins. Forgive them yours as well – people watching the process won’t know the details and you can slip a few of your juicier ones onto their shoulders for others to hear.
Offer to bear their burdens when they are heavily laden. You need not actually do anything but you can make them stand still and become enraged while you talk. Try not to sweat while they are panting with fatigue – it sets a good example.
And above all – tell them to cheer up. No-one likes a sourpuss or a nastysides.
I am bemused to discover that I can now be sneered at for being born in 1948.* Apparently the term ” boomer ” attaches to me – based upon the fact that I appeared during the late 40’s. That I was conceived and born out of the love of my parents, nurtured and sustained by them all their lives, and have arrived at a pleasant retired age is not the point. As I am 71 I’m judged responsible for the ills of the world.
My accusers are people younger than myself who are angry at the state of their lives ( as the young have always been ) and frightened at their own inabilities ( again a trait of the young ). What makes them unique is they think themselves unique ( as the young always have ). And they willingly give themselves into the hands of the powerful – once this would have been as kanonenfutter…now it is as rent-a-mobsters.
I hasten to add that I have not yet had any face-to-face unpleasantry using the term ” boomer ” but that may be because I rarely go amongst prospective culprits. Just as well for them – being face-to-face is well within hearing. If you do not wish to hear insults returned, children, do not start speaking them.
The interesting thing is that this sort of name-calling is sometimes sanctioned by the parents of the young. Would they permit their offspring to use insulting words for a person’s race, religion, ethnicity, or appearance? Would they allow sex insults? Jeers at physical deformity or distress? Indulge in national insults?
I fear some would, and shun them accordingly. But others who have decided that there can be a double standard in respect – as long as their children get to do the insults with no come-back – are in for an unpleasant shock if their puppy nips and the old dog bites back.
* Normally the complaints centre around odour or in appropriate behaviour…
Bad language has been the bane of my life.
Whether it was having my mouth washed out with soap ( one time only – I learned…) or watching as a look of horror passed over listeners when I let out a floater, the business of dirty words has always served me ill. Some cultures refer to this as swearing, some call it cursing – But there seems to be some portion of speech that is wrong no matter what language is being used. There were days when I could do it by saying ” Hello “.
I know quite a few bad words. Some of them are anatomical, some are irreligious, and some are connected with contempt and defiance. There’s a good deal of sex in there, from many angles. But I increasingly find myself hesitant to use them – they never seem to have a good effect….upon others or myself.
I used to think this distaste was an age thing…that I came from a time when good language outweighed the bad. But then I realised that the bad new words I know were taught to me in the good old days. And I’ve also met people my own age who lard every conversation with them. This generally just makes them sound foolish and crude.
Of course folly and vulgarity need not be the province of the elderly. Those same foul words in young mouths have an equally repulsive sound – superadded to which is the squeak of the puppy and the quick glance to see if the speaker has been judged to be kewl and edgy. I regard it as a signal to leave and seek better companionship.
But occasionally emotion and circumstance demand something be said – if only to draw attention to an injustice or some emphatic point to be taken. We do need words for this. I think we should dip back into some of the Elizabethan pot for our curses. ” Rump-fed Ronyon ” is always good. ” Catamite ” another.
If you would use medical terms, call someone a walking gleet. Or a recurrent wen.
I have had occasion to use the Victorian mode of speech and to desire that someone go to another place and do another thing. And they did…it’s all in your tone of voice.