Are You a Terrible Person?
Depends who you ask
Not everyone likes you. One woman may find you fascinating. Another guy thinks you’re a real piece of shit. Many folks couldn’t pick you out in a lineup.
The people who like you say, “Why wouldn’t everybody like you?” The people who feel ambiguously about you ask, “Who?” The people who hate you never run out of steam. Why is that? Why is loathing so energizing?
Why do we relish talking about people we don’t like? How does it benefit us? Does it turn us on? Does it make us feel better about the toilet paper hanging off of our goofy lives?
Why don’t you ever overhear a guy in a bar howling about how great someone is. “Man, every time I see Francoise, I want to say, you’re awesome Francoise. So glad you exist.”
More often we overhear, “I hate that bitch Francoise. I wish she were dead.” Then everybody at the table jumps onto the trash train and concurs. “I wish Francoise were dead too.” “I wish a bear would eat Francoise's face!” “You think you hate Francoise? I am thinking about hiring a lion from the zoo to rip her into shreds!”
Does our impulse to trash people go all the way back to the playground? Are we forever plagued by the schoolyard song, “Amy and Bobby sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g?” Are we afraid if we hyperbolize how fabulous someone else is people will think we want to kiss that person in a tree?
Why is kissing someone in a tree so frightening? I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never kissed anyone in a tree. I consider that a gaping hole in my personal kissing history. It sounds wonderful, especially if you’re not afraid of heights, you’ve got decent balance and you’re a squirrel.
Do squirrels kiss? I never really thought about it. I don’t think squirrels’d mind a song about kissing other squirrels in trees unless the other squirrel had cooties.
Squirrels trash talk too, come to think of it. Have you ever heard squirrels communicating across the branches? They sound like they’re talking smack. Their tone is buzzy and bitchy and no species is immune to schoolyard song bullying.
The other day I heard some of the younger squirrels chirping this tune. “Squirrel and squirrel sitting on a sectional, watching a big ass screen tv. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes this fat fleshy blob that you put in a baby cage and hire a nanny and stop going on dates and pick out matching plots, get divorced, buy out your ex's plot.” Then they all screamed and spread out.
I don’t want to give up trash talking altogether. It gives me energy, which enables me to enjoy a more productive workday and exciting social life. It’s espresso. Trashing may be part of our evolutionary development.
But maybe, for the sake of mankind, we should stop talking shit about each other and start complaining about how stupid other species are. I’m sort of sick of talking about Ted Cruz anyway and who cares if my neighbor puts banana peels in my recycling?
I’d like to start bitching about squirrels. Okay, here goes. The other day a squirrel was trying to rip her way through my kitchen screen. What a bitch. I hate her. I wish she were dead.
Okay, your turn. Try elephants.