For I am not fearful. The smile is real, and conceals nothing but the back of the teeth and a fair few fillings.
Do not praise me, because I am not praiseworthy…or at least not for the things that you think. If I need praise I can do it myself.
Do not be my enemy – because we are judged on the quality of our enemies, and you may not measure up.
Do not try to seduce me with offers of commercial sales. I have all the goods I need. If you offer to buy some of them off me we can talk, provided you are willing to load them on the back of your truck yourself. I don’t do heavy lifts.
Please do not sell me a plan or a program. I’ve had many plans in the past and have learned to be wary – some are futile con games that take my money and leave me disappointed…and some come to glorious fruition. Of the two results, the first is a lot easier to bear.
I can always be purchased with coffee, tea, and cakes. I am not greedy and I do not slurp or drop crumbs. The quality of my interest in your problems is directly proportional to the quality of the coffee and cake. Barista special and rich fruit cake will enlist my deepest sympathy – a plastic cup of Pablo and Nice biscuit will get you what you deserve…
And never be afraid to ask me for money – make the sum as grand as you wish. I shall be equally brave in my refusal, and the higher the demand, the greater the saving. You may be treated to a hollow laugh and a hearty handshake or vice versa.
4. Driver’s license.
6. University fees.
11. New clothing.
12. Medical expenses.
14. Job applications.
15. Relocation expenses.
Welcome to the world of adulting, teenage justice warrior. You may not have time to march in front of the state legislature/parliament house/television cameras/iphones of your friends for some time as you are now required to show up and do something worth getting paid for. Hint: keep your receipts and pay slips as you’ll need them to pay your taxes. If you do not wish to pay taxes remember that there is always the Al Capone Option. They have closed Alcatraz but Leavenworth is still going…
You may note that I have left out marriage and babies from the list. You’ll learn about them when you grow up.
That sort of stuff. The one I want. Where is it?
And thus…vaguely…begins the sad adventure of many a failed shopping expedition. I go out to get stuff I need to do things. I know what I want a project to look like in the end and I think I have seen some material or item that will be perfect for the job, but I do not know what it is called exactly…which prevents me from going to people who sell it. I cannot name it precisely enough to call their technical expertise into action and all I get is annoyed looks.
Yet I have money and need, and whatever it is…from a dog-powered ice cream mixer to recycled underwear…is surely for sale somewhere.
The best frustration safaris start with a sample of the item that you can take with you. You still have to find the correct destination where people will recognise it and can direct you further to a real source. Frequently it’s best to just start with the internet and then feel bad online before going out to feel bad in person. A good days sees someone saying they recognise the item and a really good day goes on to them knowing where you can get some. Then when you go there, you find they went out of business last week…
I want a Citizen’s Advice Bureau at my local council office that is staffed by a team of know-it-alls. I don’t care how dry, pedantic, or irritating they are as long as they are prepared to climb down off their high horse and tell me what I want to know.
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.
I can’t decide which to go for. They both have advantages and drawbacks. Consider the case of being ethical first:
- You appear good in the eyes of the world.
- You appear good in your own eyes.
- You need not fear exposure by reporters looking to fill a 5-minute slot on television.
- People will point to you as you pass in the street.
- You may be offered money to endorse ethical goods and services.
Okay – that’s the good side of ethical. Now the bad side:
- The eyes of the world are often crossed, myopic, or ridden with cataracts. They see what they want to see. They wanted to see Hitler in the 1930’s – shall they look at you now…?
- My eyes are myopic, crossed, and cataract -ridden. If i see myself as good, how can I be certain it is not just bad eyesight?
- You may not want to be the subject of a media side-swipe, but then again you may wish to be a media star no matter how you get there. It’s easier to be one with a pistol than a bag of hot towels.
- People pointing at you can be achieved by may means. Goodness, badness, and horrid taste in clothing. The first two are changeable matters – the last is permanent.
- You may be offered more money to endorse disgusting things and awful practices. The cash looks the same except there is more of it and you often don’t have to tell the tax office. If the tax office offer you money to endorse them, do not draw up the contract in blood. I’ve seen cult movies…
Now we move on to being ethnic. Frowned upon at the start of the 20th century, it became all the rage in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In truth, there was a lot of rage in the 30’s and 40’s but you had to be the right ethnicity to find out about it. The good side first:
- If you are genuinely of a certain ethnicity, you can wear interesting clothes and speak in mysterious languages.
- You get to be the interesting person at the party that everyone wants to talk to.
- You get to eat spicy food.
- People defer to your perceived ethnicity and you get to feel quite special.
- You can always find someone from your same tribe to lend you money or to hide you from the police.
Now the awkward bits:
- The clothing that your ethnicity demands makes you stand out – even when you wish to blend in. It often comes from a place that has different raw materials and climate and wearing it here and now is either hot and sticky or cold and miserable. Finally, it might just look ugly and make you feel silly.
- If you are the interesting person, the drunks will cluster about you and try to make themselves look big by arguing with you. You will never be right, because they will always be drunk.
- The spicy food you get to eat often contains the parts of animals or plants that more sensible societies bury in a sinkhole. If you want to maintain your ethnic ticket you have to choke it down.
- People do not defer to your ethnicity – they make a show of it based on what they saw on television. Their measured comment on racial questions is just one drink away from asking you whether you like fried chicken and watermelon. ( I do, as it happens…)
- The person from your tribe who lends you money and hides you knows exactly how much interest you owe them on that loan and where to find you. They also know the phone number for the police.
So there it is. I am still undecided as to which course to pursue. Advice written on a small slip of paper and stuck in a crack in the wall would be appreciated.
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.