Preventative Maintenance

I've always been withdrawn. People who know me well think it's ironic that I can be so at ease with people and charming, yet hate them so much. (I wonder how many serial killers have had the same things said about them?) Part of the truth is that what I hate in them I hate in myself and by isolating myself, I shield myself from that which pains me.

A male friend (lately I seem to have more female friends than male ones because, as I was told, I'm getting a little too deep for those sporting a penis) today told me I was inconsiderate, mean-spirited and I "refuse to hang out." I countered by saying I was honest and rarely hang out because I spend all my free time (of which there is very little) writing. In fact, on those rare occasions I do go out I feel guilty as hell because every second I'm out is a second I'm not honing my craft and getting one step closer to being able to leave my job for a life of travel, book signings and royalty checks (and perhaps the odd movie deal).

I have no illusions about the perceptions people have of me. I've been dealing with it since high school. Didn't care then. Care less even now. I made up my mind about people quite some time ago, and if anything I think my views have even more validity now. Many of the things people think of me are true. Many are not. I can't control their thoughts and ideas, and I don't care to try. But what I don't think I ever covered is why I choose to have friends in the first place.

Here's the deal: If I'm friends with you it's because I think you have something to offer. I think I can benefit from my association with you. I think you can either make me think, make me laugh or be a kind ear to bounce ideas off. Few of my friends are just like me. I already know myself. I don't need to be surrounded by mirrors. One thing my friends have in common is there is something in each and every one that I think makes them unique. Most of them have shared things with me they've shared with few, if any people. I don't spread it around, and I think they appreciate that. I think some of the things I know would blow some minds.

And now my thoughts on what a waste most people are is only becoming stronger. I find the human race, as a whole (and this is obviously speaking in general terms as you have to do when painting with a broad brush), composed of pathetic people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. People who lie to themselves and others. People who are saved from their own stupidity to the detriment of us all.

It's been said that justice is when stupid people are made to feel the ramifications of their actions. As a society we have taken responsibility away from people and they have acted in kind. If you don't have to be responsible, you won't be. These people then become the problem of those of us who refuse to let society take away our individuality, strength and will. These people, the ones who aren't made to be responsible for their actions, sicken me. They aren't worth saving. They aren't worth helping. They aren't worth a glance in the street. I won't go out of my way to harm them, but I'll be damned if I'll enable them.

I remember being in school and seeing a guy in a wheelchair give a speech about how lucky he was. He was driving drunk and killed his best friend, but he made it out alive. Crippled, but alive. I remember thinking of how much of a prick I thought he was. He caused all kinds of chaos in innocent people's lives, and now he was giving speeches to school kids, telling them not to drive drunk. As if he was any real sort of example. He got to live. Yeah, he may be confined to a wheelchair, but was his friend going to get to see the latest summer blockbuster or eat a hamburger again? No. I wondered why I would ever take this jackass' advice in the first place. Because now he was sorry? Why wasn't he thinking of this shit before he got behind the wheel? Reason: Why would he? The world is full of people like this, and far too many of them get to wheel away. If there had been justice in the world, the father of the dead kid would have put a bullet in the back of the head of the moron who couldn't handle his beer.

And that isn't done often enough.

Think about how often your day is ruined by some dick who thinks that not only does the world revolve around him, but that he is the only person in the world. The guy on the cell phone holding up the line and when you say something he gives you a look. The guy who breaks into people's homes for stuff to steal in order to be able to get his next fix and then cries "addiction" when caught. The woman who cuts you off and just smiles, oblivious to the fact that your heart is pounding in your chest and your kid is complaining that he was almost killed.

We've all been those people at one time or another, but here's the rub. The good ones feel bad about it and try to avoid doing it again. The bad ones never see what's wrong with it in the first place.

I gave up on the human race a long time ago. I wrote it off and closed the book on it. I don't make any bones about it, and I don't fake sympathy. I still have empathy and feel compassion, but I'm careful of who gets that.

If you travel around Eureka, California, you'll sometimes see a homeless lady. She has a sign. Totally pitiful. It says, "Will take verbal abuse for money." It's pathetic on many different levels. Pathetic that she would let people do that to her. Pathetic of her to think she won't take the abuse for free. When you set yourself up for that, you get it whether you want it or not. I don't feel compassion for that person who would sublet her soul that easily. I understand that people have to do what they have to do for money, but I think you have to draw the line when you start to debase yourself. You have to ask yourself if .53 cents is worth it.

One morning, in Old Town (again, Eureka) I spied a drunk urinating on the side of my building. He couldn't stand still. It wasn't even eleven a.m.. I berated him. Called him a human pig, told him I was sick of people like him pissing where I live. Said I was tempted to grab a bottle, break it and plunge the sharp end into his neck. All he could do was look at me with his bleary eyes. Here I was calling him a pig, and he was too gone to do anything about it. He could've been a victim had I so chosen that fate for him, and I'm just as sure he couldn't do anything about that, either.

I witnessed a car accident caused by kids who blew past me without a car in the world. They were driving recklessly. Not paying attention. Ahead of me they lose control and hit a pole. They hit it damn hard. Hard enough to deploy the air bag and stop that constant motion of teenage energy. Never called 9-1-1. Drove right by. Didn't care if they were bleeding to death. I didn't put them into the pole. Honestly didn't even think they would end up that way. But at that point I had a choice. I could call an ambulance so they could make sure these kids who blew by just moments earlier, screaming and driving like lunatics, would be all right. Or I could let nature take its course. That's what I chose. Right or wrong, this is how you learn. Sometimes you don't get second chances. Sometimes the guy you almost drive off the side of the road is the only guy who can save you. Who says he has to?

I'm not without feelings. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my daughter and care about my friends. I strive to be fair, and I try to be compassionate. I just don't have it in me to be anything less than totally open with people anymore, and this is starting to bug them. Believe it or not, I've been pretty guarded with most people. Not so much now, and it is starting to freak some people out. I understand. I'd be freaked too if a person I was friends with was now telling me he thought I skated through life and would never make my mark on the world. That in the end I'd be forgotten. Another nameless cog in a nameless machine. I would contribute little to the world around me because I had nothing to contribute. Yeah, that would freak me out and hurt me.

But if you fear truth, why ask the questions in the first place.

I never claimed to be an ignorant person who would just let anything fly. I've always been open about my misanthropy and my capacity for violence. I've always tried to treat people the way I've wanted to be treated, and take myself to task when I fail. I beat myself up over every bad move and wrong decision I've ever made, and people who know me well know that is true.

I just don't care how my friends react to it anymore.

I won't apologize for wanting more out of my life. For wanting to make my mark. I won't apologize for thinking people should be free and be responsible for their actions. I will apologize, however, for thinking people would eventually understand.

I want my girl to grow up in a world where people are held accountable. I want her to see that those who make stupid choices are made to pay for their actions. As of now, though, I have to teach her that not only does she have to take responsibility for her actions, but she has to be alert for those who don't because they don't learn. They make the same mistakes again and again, and sometimes you are on the wrong end of that.

This was a lot of venting, but it is needed, as I've had far too many people attempt to take me to task these last few weeks for perceived transgressions against the status quo. Today was the last straw for that. Honesty should not be called anything other than what it is. One should not be made to feel guilty because they won't waste time. Time is the one thing I can never get back. If I could sue for lost time, I would. Every minute wasted is one I will never see again. It's why I don't watch crap movies, and it's why I don't "hang out" very often.

I've made mistakes in the past, and I will continue to make them. I won't, however, be played and manipulated. What you see is what you get. Don't guilt me into acting the way you think I should act. Don't ask for honesty and balk when you get it. And don't, whatever you fucking do, expect me to be as weak-willed as you. I don't look for your acceptance, and I don't need it. The only person whose opinion of me I really care about is my daughter. She did not ask to be brought into this world. She did not ask to have me as a father. Because I chose to bring her into this cesspool of humanity we all share responsibility for, I have to make sure I am doing right by her. And if I'm serious about that (and I am very serious about that), her opinions and thoughts about me give me a good indication of how decent a job I am doing. Everyone else is free to go if they please.

I told my friend I wasn't put on this planet to hold his hand and ensure him that the world was an all right place. I told him he needed to act like a man and stop fucking crying about the fact that I'm honest.

Cruel? Yes. Honest? Yes. I've got a hard enough time dealing with my own demons, though (as any self-respecting human should be doing), and don't have time for his. If he didn't want to hear what I had to say, he should've kept his damn mouth shut.

You know who you are, man. You read this and never comment in the open. Just text messages and little jabs in person. I could name you, let people know your real feelings on some mutual friends, really go into some depth on what I see as your problems. Problems you admit to, but only to a point.

But what I said in the opening paragraph remains true. The things I hate in you are in me, too. And like Nietzsche says, when you fight monsters you have to watch you don't become the thing you hate. The difference between you and I? I'm not afraid to confront them and understand why they are there and what their purpose is.

You? You'd rather ignore them and get upset when they are pointed out to you. The biggest difference between us, though?

You believe your misconceptions are truth. I believe your truths are misconceptions. You believe you are right. Me? I don't care. I only want the truth and have no stake in being right or wrong because truth can't be denied. Truth knows no sides.

Truth should always be your companion. Honesty should always be by your side. If you have those, the rest follows. Heed my advice, though. Dole them out in small doses.

Some folks just can't handle them.


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Deleted said...

sheeeeeeeeeeit...it's weird how sometimes what you & i are thinking on are somewhat parallel...topics that we haven't necessarily discussed with each other. this may sound fucked up but one of the many things i admire, yes admire, most about you is that you don't get caught up in the "hanging out" game. i respect it immensely. you don't want to do it, you don't force yourself. and you don't buy in to the bullshit that people will tell you because you don't get caught up in it. yet, you still manage to have friends...quality friends. i've been going thru a lot of shit lately which forced me to really take a look at my definition of friend...not just what it means for me to be a friend to someone but what i need from someone i'm going to call a friend. i have never used the word friend willy nilly anyway but the changes in my life recently forced me to do a brief re-evaluation. i realized that not everyone i want to call a friend is necessarily a friend to me. so i've started letting some people go because i'm not doing all of the work anymore. people are hard. people are work. very few are worth it. my time is running out so i'm not waiting or wasting time with anything but the genuine article anymore.

you have been quite the friend to me. you've been supportive, encouraging and one of a handful of people who i feel really look out for me. for that, i will always be grateful...you inconsiderate, mean spirited person, you!

-Doug Brunell "America's Favorite Son" said...

To quote Black Flag (Henry Rollins), "I may not know what a friend is/All I know is what you're not."

This is not to you. This is to the people you are talking about. I think you know exactly what I mean, too.

Your words -- back at you.

And in this, we burn.