Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Joy of Hating and/or Ignoring People You Know

As you get older, you come to find some of the more enjoyable things in life are not exactly what you thought was enjoyable when you were a teen. For example, you develop a taste for cognac, fine cigars, expensive clothing, classic art museums, haute cuisine, English poetry. In other words, you become a raging bore worthy of a bullet to the forehead. But with aging you can properly cultivate the one grand luxury unfeasible when you're younger (and one of the nastiest legal pleasures known to mankind): the delicate art of learning how to be intolerably rude to former classmates/old friends when you see them in public.

This isn't something you can delight in when you're just out of school - it's a treat for the older, more refined, more experienced person. You can't very well pretend to not know someone just a year after you left high school or college (unless you're a major stoner, in which case your stupidity will be chalked up to your addiction, thereby negating the proper reaction). So give it a few years after the fact. Let gravity draw everyone's faces to the ground. Let overeating and a slower metabolism make them look bloated. Let their early, miserable marriage and 2.4 kids (by the age of 23!) be something to mock and mock and mock. Let yourself come to the realization that you never liked any of those people to begin with.

Let me give you one example. I was out to dinner with someone, and the waiter who served our table was someone I went to high school with. Now, I never liked this guy - he was cocky, he played football, etc. When he saw me - and I saw him - we recognized each other, but he never said, "Hey, man, how are you" or something like that. I never said anything in return. I ordered and was polite, continuing the trend of ignorance. We ate and I took the bill. It was about $32. I told the person I was with that I would cover the tab. And I did ... except, you see, I left $30. Only $30. Not the thirty two, mind you ... because I deduced the $2 and the tip for the (a.) lack of recognition and (b.) for the spittle that was probably in my dish. When asked by my Dining Companion what that was all about, I told her that the waiter "was a loathsome fuck" and that "he should eat my shit." She tried to be diplomatic: "What if he genuinely didn't remember you? Why didn't you say hello first?" This kind of diplomacy isn't needed in these parts: mentally, I run a Stalinist regime. My explanation was adequate. My dining companion was liquidated.

Allow me another example. I was at the Mall (!) with my Mom (!) and ran into a former classmate's Mom. My Mom and her Mom knew each other from way back to the old PTA days together. Now, I'm already in an odd situation: I'm at the Mall (!) with my Mom (!) ... nothing wrong with that in most parts of the world where family is vital, but we live in the mad-cap, suicide-friendly, homicide-ready United States where parents are people you immediately need to run away from at 16 and never talk to again ... so you get what I'm saying. So this woman spends the whole time bragging about her daughter, who just got married (Mom and I always thought she was a lesbian, but that's another thing), who has a high paying job and who just bought a mansion, who drives a Ferrari, who makes U.N. members drink her piss out of champagne glasses, etc. She went through this litany and My Mom and I just nodded, nodded, nodded. Eventually her verbal masturbation ran out of steam and she asked me what I was doing and I just shrugged my shoulders. "Digging ditches" I volunteered. "It pays the bills!" We laughed. She then changed course again, continuing her praise of her daughter, how she collects "priceless" antiques with her husband, how her boss just gave her a raise for being Incredible and Invaluable, how she's up for some award and work, etc. etc. and Mom and I just kept listening. When we got a moment to speak, I told this woman the following: "Look, Mrs. _____, I wish [your daughter] the best of success in the future, but quite frankly, I couldn't stand her when we were in school together. She was kind of stuck-up, and if I never see or hear her name again the rest of my days I will be very happy." The woman glared at me, told my Mom it was nice seeing her and huffed off. My Mom was embarrassed, but I felt so good I needed a cigarette.

It goes on. A young woman I went to college with runs in my neighborhood with her dogs - I've tried numerous times to just say hello to her but she's always snubbed me so I now actively try to run over her dogs with my car. I've searched the alumni database of former college colleagues and had their e-mail accounts bombed so bad it made the U.S. attack on Baghdad look like a water balloon fight. In my various places of employment, I've worked with several people I went to high school and college with ... and routinely pretended like they didn't exist. I sent a former professor a giant dildo (because she needs to get fucked ... hard) and a lot of free boxes courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service (they deliver ... for you). Sometimes a friend will say, "Man, you remember _______? She was asking how you were doing" and I'll respond "Who?" even though I know exactly who the hell it is. "Tell her I'm working as a river boat captain in Belize with my Nigerian wife Nbutu," I'll reply and then move onto another topic of conversation, like why the room is not spinning and why I am not face down in an ad-mixture of drool and spilled beer.

The voices of reason are sure to object. "Matt, you're a nut! I love all these people! They're my History!" Stop right there Chuckles. This message is not for you. If you want to pretend people you played kickball with at recess are people you still want to talk to at age 35, go right ahead. If you think 3rd grade is something you'd like to remember forever, go crazy on Facebook and talk about that day the retarded girl puked on the floor. Send Christmas Cards and photos of your fugly children with snot in their hair and half-chewed cereal on their clothes. But if you're like me, the best route is to move out of town after the age of 18 and go live with some 40-year-old pervert in Michigan. Or join the Marines and hide in a hill of sand, shooting at 10-year-olds armed with Russian rocket launchers. Change your name to "Cougar" or "Geech" or "Melody" or something like that. Go to Mexico and run for Governor; make "DONKEY SHOW!" your official slogan (and don't worry, you don't need to translate it). But please, please, leave the town you were raised in. And if you can't, either get good at lying or slam your head really hard against a brick wall until the lights go out. Because Amnesia - either real or pretend - is a joyful way to jaunt through life and aggravate those foolish enough to try to remember you.