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Friday, October 06, 2006


Various Ways in Which I'm (Comparatively) an Asshole

I like to think I'm a good person, basically. I like to think it because it gives me that nice, rosy glow inside. Y'know the kind, right? The sort of nice, rosy glow that you get from booze. Only without the booze. Hell, everyone likes to think of themselves as a good person. Hitler probably thought, "Wow. Without me, these trains would never run on time. I'm fuckin' good, bitch."

The thing is, as much as I want to think I'm a good person, there are all of these other people in my life who do fantastic shit and make me realize how much, in actuality, I really suck.

F'rinstance: I consider myself to be relatively friendly. Relatively. I don't flick boogers on people when they come up to talk to me. I rarely kick people in the shins without good cause. I do my best to be at least somewhat gregarious. But then I look at my upstairs neighbors. Their style of friendliness makes me look like Genghis Khan.

They seem to be on good terms with everybody on the goddamn block. They stop and talk with people, even when they seem to be in a hurry. They know the names of the guys who hang out on the corner. I've been saying hi to these same guys for four years and I still don't know their names. I know I was told their names once upon a time, but I didn't commit them to memory. (It's not like they know mine either, so I've got that in my defense.)

My neighbors are just really, really nice people. Which is aggravating, because I just can't make myself be nice enough that I don't have to feel bad about how un-nice I am in comparison.

Then there's my hosting ability. I like to think that I make people relatively comfortable when they stay at my place. I make sure they've got clean sheets on the fold-out and I don't go to bed without laying out fresh towels for them. I make coffee; good stuff, not Chock Full o' Nuts. But we've got friends in Chicago who make us look like the asshole innkeeper who made Mary and Joseph sleep near a pile of horseshit.

These are dear friends of ours from when we lived in Seattle and, whenever we've stayed with them (or just gone to their house for dinner), they go whole hog. I mean that literally. If you mentioned casually that you love pork, they would butcher a whole hog, select the choicest cuts and outdo Jacques Pepin in their presentation. They cook gourmet Korean. They track down mind-blowing pastries. They offer to drive you home if you're too crocked. It's fucking sick how good they treat guests.

I do my level best to remember people's birthdays. For a long time, I was pretty good about sending an e-card on--or really soon after--the big day. I'd hit send and feel all smug. Like, "Ha-ha, fucker! I remembered your birthday! What d'ya think of that?"

So, of course, we have to have a friend who's perfect about picking out an actual card and mailing the goddamn thing so it gets there on time. Whatever. I felt so goddamn ashamed after she sent a birthday card to my wife in May that I took action. In August, I took the action, so it wasn't, like, instantaneous or anything, but there was action. I went to a card store and spent about forty bucks buying cards for every single birthday, anniversary and bat mitzvah that was coming up that month. (There weren't actually any bat mitzvahs, but it always sounds better when you list more than two things.)

I figured I'd turned over a new leaf and I was feeling pretty good about it. Until I flipped my calendar on Sunday and realized that I'd missed my buddy's anniversary. It was on the first, y'see, and I hadn't bothered sneaking a peak, so, by the time I was aware of it, I didn't have time to get a card off and had to resort to a congratulatory e-mail. And there's the fact that my upstairs neighbor (the female half of the uber-friendly folk mentioned above) had a birthday late last month that I wasn't even fucking aware of.

Did you get that? I wasn't even aware! Didn't have it on my calendar. Didn't know about until after the fact. 'Cause I hadn't been thoughtful enough to ask. I ran out and bought her a card and baked a loaf of pumpkin bread for her, but then I didn't get it up there in an expeditious manner, so the loaf went stale and the card is still fucking sitting here. Now the birthday greeting isn't just belated. It's fucking laaaaaaate.

My God, I suck.

This coming from a person who is so nice, he actually worries about how nice he is. Believe me, you are plenty nice.
Should I, then, pretend to forget your birthday on the 12th, so you don't feel bad about my remembering it?

Feast your eyes, world, on the self-obsessed egomaniac my son has become! I should have never brought you home from the hospital.

Let's just skip your birthday this year, and why don't you spend it pondering all the emptiness you've left in your narcissistic wake over the years.
My birthday's on the 13th, "Mom". Or should I say...Donald Rumsfeld!

That's right, Mr. Rumsfeld. I've known for years that you're my real mother. When I burst into your private club and said, "Which one of you bitches is my mother?", I knew it was you. You're a sick, sick man, Donald. And I hate you.
Can I have some pumpkin bread, please? Pretty please?I mean, I didn't want to say anything but you forgot my birthday, too.
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