Sunday, September 2, 2007


The best thing that happened to me last week was when I found pudding cups on sale at the local grocery store.

This was the highlight of my week. I actually called my girlfriend to tell her.

Many people will tell you that self-loathing is a bad thing, a destructive thing, a negative state of mind that is dangerous and unhealthy. But I'm here to say that self-loathing is a natural human condition, and when applied properly to an examined life, it is an anchor that keeps your perspective in check. Otherwise you would be so happy with yourself that you might explode in a cloud of rainbows and puppy glitter. Or your ego will get so out of control you'll end up like one of these people. (That's a worst case scenario)

I met a very friendly person at my job the other day, and they were talking about how great it must be to read comics all day. I'm young, they said, and I own a great store, and it must be awesome, and they were all smiles and high-fives the whole time. Then I bummed them out by shrugging my shoulders and looking despondent. I suppose my reaction wasn't as ecstatic as it should have been, but the truth is that the stress and anxiety of running a new, small business is so overwhelming that the good bits barely balance the bad. Of course, it's all better than the alternative, which would be unemployment, working at a job I really truly hate, or myriad other options too gruesome to contemplate.

You see, my natural self-loathing kept my perspective balanced, or else I might have pooped myself with joy when someone mentioned how great my life must be. I did not explode with happiness, but rather kept my cool and remained level-headed about my state of affairs, and then I was awarded One Hundred Dollars for not flipping out with joy and soiling myself. That's a true story.

Life is a series of re-evaluated expectations. Does anyone end up doing what they hoped they'd be doing when they were twelve? With everything working out for them along the way? And if so, are they insufferable pricks about it? (Answers: Usually not, Sometimes, and most of the time.) The fact is, when you're twelve, sometimes your goals are really stupid, and there's a world of difference between "I want to be a journalist" and "I want to make seven figures a year and have ripped abs until I'm fifty five". Some jerk who wants an UES apartment, wife with fake boobs, and a VP position at a hedge fund is going to be really, really smug about it when they get their way. Having to settle for a disappointments could do wonders for these guys, who most likely shit all over everyone to get what they wanted.

As we grow and change and turn from idealistic young punks into broken, disappointed adults, self-loathing is the the only honest reaction. It's nigh impossible to have any legitimate respect for yourself when your days are filled with frustrated compromises, irritated bowels, inane e-mails, litter boxes, overwhelming debt, and all the other elements of a well-fulfilled life. Yet, without all that shit, you're Candide, or Pollyanna, walking with a charmed gait through other people's misery! Who wants to be that asshole? Self-loathing means that you have achieved something, some sort of meaning, no matter how far removed from what you might have hoped, and even if it all makes you want to cry like a girl-baby, it's still something, and you have the ulcer to show for it.

This is it people. This is as good as it gets. I encourage you to look at your life, with all the miserable priorities and the misplaced aspirations. The lost loves, and the dreams that got eroded like teeth in a glass of Coke. Come to terms with Self-Loathing, and shake hands with that grim spectre of reality dawning in the mirror. Self-Loathing will keep you centered, lest you become one of those people with the blank stare, the fake tan, and the plastic cup of beer. You learn to appreciate the stupid crap that you would have scoffed at in the height of adolescence.

And suddenly, that sale on pudding cups is actually worth getting excited about.


Joe Rice said...

Every worst thing I've ever done came from lack of self-awareness and self-loathing.

Dan said...

This is one of the funniest and best things I've ever read from you.

Don't let it get to your head.