So, more than one friend has commented that they were dismayed at the amount of anger I express in some of my blog posts. Honestly, at first I was surprised to hear that, since angrily shout-casting my views or hate-blogging was never my intention. After I went back and reviewed some of my posts, I’m still certain I’m not trying to sound angry, but I very definitely am not afraid to express my feelings about things I don’t like. However, I’m also quite clear that these thoughts are just my opinion and are not at all how I expect other people should feel.
Maybe the distinction is too subtle. All right, I guess I come off as angry sometimes.
At any rate, just to be clear, I am NOT a crusader. I’m not looking for converts to my world view. When you read an opinion of mine here, it’s because I use this blog to talk honestly about how I feel about things and sometimes that feeling is negative. That’s life. Frankly, I think this blog would be boring if I restricted myself to only talking about my books or the things that make me feel warm and fuzzy. If that’s the kind of thing a reader who visits this blog is looking for, then that reader will be disappointed and should probably move on. I think a lot of people look at that viewpoint as an aggressive one. Sort of saying “If you don’t like it, shove off.” That’s not it at all. I respect everyone’s right to have their own tastes and I know that I won’t appeal to all tastes. I CAN’T appeal to all tastes. I haven’t the slightest idea how.
I figure if you’re someone who is visiting the blog, it’s because you want to know more about me. That’s what you’ll get. If you don’t like it, you’ll stop visiting. If you do like it, you’ll stay and hang out and we’ll chat and maybe become friends. Isn’t that how this whole socialization thing is supposed to work? Am I wrong about that? Was I supposed to try to sell you a used car instead?
But sometimes I don’t just talk about things I don’t like, I also add a little bit of funny. I think this also puts some people off. When you try to be funny about a negative feeling, most people, especially those that disagree with you or are suspicious of you, suspect you are trying to talk down to them and prove you’re somehow more clever than they are. This is an insanely easy impression to get. It used to happen quite often to me when reading some of my friends’ posts on Facebook or all-the-things-that-came-before-facebook. After several misunderstandings I came to the conclusion that snark is incredibly dangerous on the internet. To this day, I still have to remind myself that these people are my friends and I shouldn’t take offense when I read something I’m unsure how to take. So, I probably shouldn’t use snark at all, but…
Tell you a little story. I’m out pounding the pavement, looking for part-time work to help fund the writing, you know? So, I’m looking at pizza delivery places and liquor stores, two industries in which I know I am eminently qualified to work. My favorite liquor store is up on Mass Ave, just up my street and down a block. They didn’t have any shifts available, so I start walking home and thinking about widening my search.
But then I see it. The entire reason I should probably not want to work on Mass Ave. Down the sun splashed sidewalk on this warm and breezy late spring day came the very model of modern geek-chic. He was tall, slope shouldered, fat-bellied and clothed in only the best fake used clothes. His jeans were inexplicably well-worn AND sturdy. His maroon shirt bespoke of 70’s daring color fashion, but complemented his frame instead of pinching it. His black silk vest flapped in the breeze the way only a meaningless piece of affectation can. His long red locks streamed behind his balding head, waving like a fiery banner to all the other out-and-proud geeks, announcing “Here I am! Come talk to me about the Avengers! Loudly and enthusiastically in the broad light of day! Come brothers and sisters! To me!”
Also, he was riding what I have antagonistically labelled a “Vanity Cycle.” Now, if you’re not familiar with this term – and how could you be, I just made it up – a Vanity Cycle is basically any wheeled contraption that some delusional fellow invented in order to make sure everyone knows how much of a special snowflake he is when he’s out riding it around town. I’m not talking about two-seater bikes or recumbents, those are very real modes of transportation for people who can’t be on an ordinary bike. If I ever pick up cycling again, I’ll probably do it in a recumbent, because my back is so finicky about lumbar support, I have to sit in a desk chair big enough to suit a Bond villain.
But I digress. It’s also important to point out that the Vanity Cycle is not a wheelchair. This person is not disabled in any way – they’re just fucking special. No, a Vanity Cycle is usually a chair-like apparatus that comes equipped with anywhere from one to forty-seven wheels. Actually, I don’t think there’s an upper limit on the number of wheels. Anyway, I can’t go a single fucking day on Mass Ave without seeing one of these things being wheeled around by some dude wearing a self-satisfied smirk, just begging people to stare and comment. If I were to work in a store on Ye Grande Olde Massachusetts Avenue, I know I’d get stuck in the inevitable exchange:
ME: “You want a paper or plastic bag?” (For your ridiculously over-priced microbrew?)
NERDTASTIC MAN: “Oh, that’s all right. I’ll just stick it in the back of my Chair-Pack-Cycle.” (Pronounced similar to Popsicle, only with additional and unnecessary syllables)
A long pause ensues where I try not to make eye contact with him as he delays handing over payment. Eventually, he knows I have to give in. I reach out to take his credit card and he angles his beady eyes just enough to brush my retinas with his excited, piercing gaze.
NERDTASTIC MAN: “It’s my own invention!”
NERDTASTIC MAN: “See, it’s a chair and backpack and cycle!”
For the next few minutes I am trapped, alone and afraid. A six and half foot tall red-haired giant swings a contraption off his back and starts folding pieces of it out as he talks in spurts in between taking gusty breaths and blowing out grunts meant to evoke Homer Simpson. I feign bemusement. Sweat is breaking out all over the giant’s brow. He keeps looking at me as he sits on the unfolded apparatus and wheels it around the storefront. I pretend not to worry about the display of carefully stacked Smirnoff nips built precariously close to the counter’s edge as I smile encouragingly.
NERDTASTIC MAN: “You can use it at home while you’re on the computer.”
I’m sure he means “gaming” but as a liquor store clerk, I don’t rate “gaming.” The guy who owns the comic store down the street will get “gaming.” He’ll get gaming thrown into the conversation every other minute. That poor, dumb sap. He doesn’t know what his future holds. But I know it. I feel a strange sense of power come over me as I watch the giant pop tiny wheelies and spin around in place. Maybe I’ll call the comic store and see if they’re interested in knowing their future. For a price…
NERDTASTIC MAN: “You can just pop out of bed and wheel around your house, then wheel down to the street and wheel all the way to work! Wheel right up to your desk!”
Except I don’t have a desk you terrifically stupid genius. I have a counter. They don’t let me sit. I noticed you didn’t include “taking a shower” in your list of activities you could “wheel right up to.” Why am I not surprised? I’m sure whatever tech start up this guy works at has him plugged into the farthest corner of their charming little converted barn-loft space. It’s a great location. Perfect for them. Didn’t work out for the ten preceding tech start-ups, but they didn’t have VISION. That’s the one thing that got this guy hired, I’ll bet. He’s got VISION. Everyone else in the office is scooting around on their cute little Razors, but not him. Oh, no. This little snowflake is WAY different than the others. And I get to hear all about it. One of the little perks of living within a 5 mile radius of MIT, I suppose…
So, was that mean? Was I too angry? Yes and probably. But was it funny? I don’t know. It’s up to you. I’m completely fine with your judgment. It’s yours, after all.
A couple of years ago I decided life is too short to censor myself. If I think it’s funny, then chances are a lot of other people will too. Sometimes, I think something loud, obnoxious and angry is funny (like Lewis Black, Denis Leary, Bill Burr and many others) and I’ll write something in that style. I’ll try to cushion it with “But this is just me…” but honestly that just gets boring to write every goddamn time. So, the people that want me to sell them a used car will keep shopping for a blogger they like and the people that love me will still love me even if they think I’m an ass sometimes (usually).