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Putting the "H" in "Happy"
By Chris Colcord
Fort Wayne Reader
As a fully-functioning misanthrope, it doesn't take much for me to develop an animus towards any particular demographic or subculture that suddenly pops up on my radar screen. Just a few casual observations, some caustic assumptions, one or two validated hypotheses, a few stereotypes reinforced, and I usually have enough raw material to manufacture a life-long grudge. This tendency to seek out new things to hate is hardly a morose and depressing exercise for me — on the contrary, I spend most days whistling a happy tune and dancing a little jig. As I've said before, having a focus for all your negative feelings is a huge benefit; you get to tee off on something specific instead of letting all that dark stuff slosh inside you. Plus it's a lot of fun to be unfair and to hate something for no good reason.
So I may be a cynic, but at least I'm a jolly one. A partial list of the various groups I've learned to hate over the years would include youth soccer parents, actors, independent coffee shop baristas, middle-aged guys who quote Caddyshack, gluten-free losers, zealots, mumblers, anybody who has liked the movie Love, Actually, TSA workers, guys who have "ManCaves" or "ManCards," coffee snobs, beer snobs, "Is it FRIDAY yet??" office dweebs, environmental activists who are humorless a-holes, people who refer to themselves in the third person, singer-songwriters with beards who name-drop Hank Williams, whiskey snobs, vinyl snobs, snobs in general, Facebook emoters, "Star Wars" geeks, "Star Trek" geeks, geeks in general, anybody who owns a Tom Clancy novel, MMA fans, the "Walk much?" people, the "Hot enough for ya?" people, joshers, pokers, rat-bullies, people who document their lives instead of living them, terrorists, attention whores, ultra-white people who talk "street" for ironic effect, Adam Sandler fans, precocious kids who preside over their own charities, anybody who shows me a picture on their cell phone, Belle and Sebastian fans, Belle and Sebastian, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks, high school athletes who get press conferences, immobile and oblivious shoppers who can block an entire aisle, guys who wear blazers with jeans and sneakers, racists, anti-intellectuals, the tolerance police, horse-laughers, finger-pointers, mood-killers, martinets, pissy-faced restaurant critics, locker room guys, golfers, Libertarians. I'm still on the fence about the French.
A pretty comprehensive list, I know, and at first glance it might seem to include the whole of the human race. Please note, though, that my rancor waxes and wanes constantly and therefore the list will always be relatively fluid; currently I'm in a sanguine state of mind and therefore some of the aforementioned groups don't really show up on my Venom Rankings. (Lately I've been feeling somewhat affectionate toward TSA workers and "Star Wars" geeks. And geeks in general.) And it's worthwhile to remember that there's always some new, exciting subculture of loathsome people just waiting to form and make their grand entrance into my consciousness and earn my well-deserved opprobrium.
I've discovered in the past that there's usually one moment, one cathartic moment, when you suddenly realize that, like Dean Wormer in Animal House, you "hate those guys." Before that moment arrives, you might not even have realized that you had any sort of opinion about that particular group, but after the Waterloo moment you can never go back. Your subconscious has been keeping score for you for a while now, just waiting for that one moment. It's like that famous line Fitzgerald once wrote, the one about the two ways a guy lost his money: gradually, then suddenly.
So last week I had my "suddenly" moment and now I'd like to report that I've added a new enemy to my ever-expanding Hate List. In hindsight, the "moment" seemed inconsequential at the time, but after a few seconds my powers of perception lasered on to what I had witnessed and I knew immediately: I hate those guys.
What I saw, then, was a guy my age, jogging on a recreational trail not too far from my house. Nothing too remarkable in that, but what was remarkable was what he was wearing: a full-body, yellow-and-black spandex workout suit, with matching yellow-and-black workout shoes. The outfit was so impossibly tight that I couldn't imagine how he got it on; it fit him like a sausage casing fits a sausage. Of course every contour of his physique was on full display, and of course he had the requisite flat stomach, the bulging side muscles, etc. His face was tanned, and his forehead held not a wrinkle; even his hair seemed muscular and toned. The entire effect of his get-up was so ridiculous that I thought he could have worn a Spider Man costume and not looked as conspicuous. And I couldn't get over the fact that the guy was my age, that instead of looking like, well, me, he looked more like a Hasbro toy or an animated character.
It was then that I realized, Dear God, do I hate fitness fanatics! All of them! Unfairly, completely, absolutely — I hate those guys. And please, there's no envy here, no, gee, I wish I looked like that, I wish I was in that kind of shape, etc. Whenever I look at fitness freaks I don't see anything beautiful, I don't see a flat stomach or toned arms or sculpted torsos; no, the only thing I can see is obsession, narcissism, neediness, one-dimensionality. And I've tried before to talk with fitness freaks, and you'll never guess what they like to talk about most: Fitness! And their personal bests. And their workout regimens. And their diets. Try to get them to talk about current events, or movies, or concepts, or theories, and you'll get a big, blank stare. I discovered that I'm sick of the whole lot of them, of their FitBits, and their joyless plodding on the trails, and their obsessions, and their personal, Cross-fit trainers who scream in their ears, their diets, their gluten-free, vegetarian, raw, paleo-diets. . .
Of course I recognize how unfair and I'm being, but that's one of the benefits of being a creepy misanthrope: I'm not expected to be fair. My job is to be unduly harsh and critical and offensive, and as Falstaff once said, it's no crime to labor in one's vocation. Which means, for me, adding another group to my list. Have a great day!