Tag Archives: Rejected

I suppose you’re right. I mean, now that slavery’s been outlawed, people of all colors seeking domesticated dependents over which they can have total control must resort to something. Why not get a pet? Don’t I know that I’m missing out on a complete life? Don’t I know that not having a pet marks me as a cold-hearted, animal-hating Cruella?

Well, yes, I suppose you’ve pegged me. Why not, indeed, but for my hatred of innocence and all things cuddly and/or quadrupedal. But allow me, for a second, to explain my misgivings.

First off, while I could take the easy road and attack pet owners for being lonely people in desperate need of the unconditional love a pet can provide and which the pet owner cannot manage to elicit from the world at large, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with this phenomenon. If it really were about finding something to love that would love you back—well, so be it. But pet ownership isn’t about love; pet ownership is about power. (See: pet ownership)

Pets are quasi-human creatures valued for their ability to seem human while never developing beyond a kind of infant-like state out of which no revolution can ever be born. They are, in other words, sort of human but always less than human. An abused dog never has a chance of overthrowing its cruel master. It must suffer its abuse and at best take its frustrations out on things less likely to bite back: the mailman, passing children, and creatures generally smaller than itself.

The infant-like state of pets keeps their psychology simple, and allows every would-be master to feel superior to their trained beasts. As companions, pets are the equivalent of friends dumber than you; they will never challenge you and tell you that you are wrong, and you will always feel clever by comparison.

Further evidence of the power dynamics inherent in pet ownership is exposed through an examination of just how thoroughly being a “pet” requires the full subversion of the otherwise natural tendencies of the creature possessed. Dogs are collared, muzzled, and leashed; fish are sequestered in a small tank and made to stay relatively put; and birds? They get it worst of all. Caged and completely denied their most basic form of motion–only future veal could say it has it worse! Cats get off pretty easy, and cats may therefore be the one unmasterable pet—although their prissy arrogance has always created a certain amount of distrust between humans and felines. I have no doubt that if cats grew to the size of mountain lions, they would eat us all.

Moreover, pets are animals torn from a world in which they would be able to exist naturally and placed in a world in which they absolutely cannot function without the constant attention of a human master. This environment of enforced, isolated dependency is common in situations of domestic violence, indentured servitude, and prostitution, where people are forced through various means to do what they are told because they need something that they can now only get from the person telling them what to do. The only way a pet is ever getting out of this situation is to slip out into the street and get plastered by a bus, or start scrounging for scraps and rats with the diseased mutts in the alley.

A lot of effort goes into the maintenance of a pet, but what are the rewards? Well, you get something that is more or less happy to have you around, but eventually this gets kind of old. Face it: you will never want to play with your dog as much as your dog will want to play with you. And even if you don’t mind the inconvenience and believe that you are a very nice animal-slave-owner and that your little dumb furry slave loves you—even if all of that is true, there is still the fundamental truth that you will let your pet down. You will disappoint it, because a pet is a prisoner—your prisoner—but it has been made to love you, and love you it does. You are the most important thing in its world, but this feeling is something you will never be able to reciprocate simply because of the fact that for you, the pet is a peripheral entity—a side benefit that you enjoy visiting with now and then. Eventually, the pet’s continued entreaties for attention will grow annoying, because you’ve seen all the animal’s tricks before and you’re kind of bored. Or maybe you just have something else to do that’s more important than an unending game of Fetch the Nasty. In the end, there is hardly a better way to give yourself a guilty conscience than have some sorry animal neglected in your home that loves you more than you’ll ever love it.

Children are ultimately more satisfying, because eventually they grow out of diapers, start talking, and start changing into strange creatures you can no longer train to roll over and play dead. Pets don’t change; no pet will ever become smart enough to get a job and pay for its own Purina.

Owning pets is the privilege of the dominant race. Having subservient creatures in every household (no matter how small) is another way we show our hegemony to the rest of the natural world.

But you’re right. Sounds like I’m missing out.

We’ve all been there. You’ve just turned the last page on a 1,200-page novel you’ve spent an emotional eternity reading, and you feel both relieved and like you’ll never be able to read again. Whether you liked the book or not, it’s never easy moving on. You’ve come to count on this tome and these characters. Your neural pathways think in the syntax of the writer. When you think back on these days, all you’ll remember is that during your lunchbreak and on the subway in the morning and as you were falling asleep at night, you were reading that book. Idioms and phrases repeated throughout the novel seem like your whole life. If you asked someone what he was doing back in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment or told your kid someday he’d sit the Iron Throne or asked a coworker, “Who is John Galt?”–all these questions and comments would be salient and apropos, because everyone in the world knows what a terrible surprise the scouring of the Shire is.

But no. Life goes on. Moby-Dick is not the only book about fish in the sea.

Remember that it’s okay to read different books. Perhaps the best thing to do is to have a quick fling with a short story or two, just to prove to yourself that there are other characters out there. Find a used copy of The Old Man in the Sea, rent a hotel room, and spend an hour reminding yourself what it was like to be an irresponsible teenager with a book report due in the morning.

Talk to others. Go to your book club meeting. The people there can help you learn from what you’ve read and understand how it all came about, pointing out the signs from the beginning of the book which foreshadowed events in the end. By analyzing the things you might have missed, you will become a better reader for that next novel.

Equally important, however: don’t obsess over it. Don’t go online and read every single post anyone’s ever made about the book. Don’t fight with people on the Internet who don’t “get” the book like you do. If you loved the book, you’ll hate to see it being torn apart by the likes of these idiots, and if you hated it you’ll hate to see it being praised when it’s a lowlife, bottom-feeding, piece of shit. But even so, you have to let it go. You have to move on.

Whether you go and mingle with new releases at a brick-and-mortar store or browse through descriptions on an online site, just get out there. Find something new to read. There are a lot of words out there. They’re waiting.

“The End” is not the end.

The good news is the photo really does you justice. It accurately represents your default smile. Your other features are likewise not distorted. Kudos.

The bad news is we have taken a closer look at some of the specific claims you’ve made in this profile, and we feel it only fair to point out a few concerns w/r/t their validity.

The claims:

“I have a great sense of humor and love to laugh.”

If this statement is true, it is not borne out by your Netflix viewing history. Over the past 90 days, you have viewed only two comedies, both of which feature struggling cancer victims. While you might claim to find humor in the dramas you’ve watched, a hidden recording device we placed in the cactus beside your television has picked up nary a lone chuckle.

Likewise, a survey conducted at your workplace also found that you laugh at your coworkers’ jokes the least frequently of any of your coworkers, regardless of who is telling the joke. While you may love to laugh, it is clearly difficult for you, and you do not seem to seek it out, nor do you have a sense of humor describable as anything other than decidedly below average. The most common adjective used to describe you by your coworkers was “quiet.” Second-most common: “Nice.” No one ever mentioned your sense of humor. When asked about it, however, they would laugh.

“I enjoy long walks …”

We’ve averaged the length of the walks you take and found it to be 0.2 miles, or about two short city blocks. The longest walk you took over the past year was 1.2 miles, and you were reported to have complained about it. Your most common mode of transportation is a taxi, and when in groups, you always argue for taking some mode of transportation when walking is suggested. We suppose “enjoy” and “long” may have flexible meaning for you.

“… and spending time with my dog.”

Presuming you mean Charlie, your full-sized poodle, who you mostly ignore, this is unlikely. As far as time spent in your apartment goes, the bulk of your time is spent looking at your laptop screen (46%), followed by your television (31%) and food (16%). Your dog (0.7%) ranks below your bathroom shower curtain (3.3%) and toilet paper (1.4%). Most common command given to Charlie: “Charlie, lie down!”

“I wasn’t very popular in high school.”

We took a poll and conducted a thorough analysis of the yearbooks from your class. Out of the lists created by your former classmates, your name showed up the most among people remembered to be “popular.” Analysis of the yearbooks of you and all your classmates shows that you are in the 99th percentile when it comes to number of distinct signatures.

But that was overkill on our part, as you were also voted Prom Queen at your senior prom (could’ve been an ironic gesture, a la Stephen King’s Carrie, but probably was not, given the above evidence) and ‘Most Popular’ in your senior yearbook (ditto the last parenthetical).

“I love music.”

Number of times you have watched an entire musical performance without talking over at least 40% of it: 0.

Here is our suggestion for an edited, more accurate profile: “I have a below-average sense of humor and prefer to cry most nights. I don’t like walking, and most of the time my dog is an inconvenience to me. I like to browse the Web. Music is tolerable to me as long as I don’t have to pay too much attention to it. I was the most popular person in high school, and I am still very cute (see photo).”

You will not be alone for long.

Dear all you insane children,

I think we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot (itself sort of funny; since I only have one, you might think that would make getting off on the wrong one more or less impossible–but these are just metaphors). Anyway, I can’t say it thrilled me when your parents died and left you in my care. Living paycheck to paycheck as I am, buying five used twin beds really tapped me out. I had to borrow against my wages for your morning gruel, nasty as it is, so please stop throwing it at the wall with such disgust. Sorry you find it difficult adjusting to my drafty shack and the nocturnal fumes rising off the bog. I’m sure we’d all rather be living in your parents’ mansion, but that’s been sold, the proceeds locked in a trust until you come of age, in order to safeguard a brighter future for yourselves.

Mind you, my future will likely be just as grim as my present and my past. I’m sure it’s no shock to you that my life was a sad story before I inherited five fussy children. Time was, I was one of the best wide receivers in the university. Had a beautiful girlfriend, too–a cheerleader! Then I shocked everyone, developed a rare form of diabetes that resulted in my having to have my leg amputated. So I lost a leg, a girlfriend, and a sweet future. Took a job as a custodian at the college where I used to be a star, started drinking a lot and avoiding everyone I used to know. Developed a staph infection, and bam! Get this hideous wart on my face! Life’s just awesome. I’m lucky I’m not a hunchback.

But, horrible as my life was, at least I didn’t have to worry about someone putting gasoline in my liquor bottles, or stirring laxatives and pureed ghost peppers into my milk. That I’ve sobered up lately is a good thing; that I’m about to get fired from my job because of all the stomach problems I’ve had is a bit less stellar.

But lately, my dear children, you’ve really taken it up a notch. I don’t know who gave you those asps you put in my bed, or how you managed to find the time to build that contraption of spikes that almost impaled me when I ran out to put out the fire you set in the garden, but you must know that the emergency room bill for the snake bites means it’s going to get even leaner around here. Plus, those tomatoes were really coming in nice. Thanks for ruining those, too.

It really is a shame. I like you all–even Janet, who seems to be quite a talented artist. I really enjoyed her painting of the castle before she set off the explosives hidden behind the canvas and blew half my face and all my hair off. It was truly the last great thing I saw with both my eyes, even if it did cost me one of them (just dumb luck the flames managed to miss the wart on my nose). Regardless, I hope she keeps going with her art.

As for the twins, Hector and Helen–you’re always good with a joke, even if it is at my expense. Such biting wit! I’m sure these mental wounds will heal in time, but a sense of humor is forever.

Little Susan, I wish you’d talk more. Sometimes in your sullen glower, I see a hint of understanding. Out of all your siblings, you seem the wisest.

And Jack, the oldest and fiercest–you are arrogant, to be sure, but that kind of confidence will take you places, even if all you choose to do with it is wield dangerous weapons. Take it from a former athlete, you’re a natural. The way you swung that mace at me yesterday made me reflect on what a great baseball player you’ll make someday.

Just, please, stop trying to kill me. I hope this letter helps you understand: I want the best for you. I hope — oh damn, here Jack comes with a shotgun pointed at me. This looks grim. Might be time to put down the pen.

If you should find this note soaked in blood under my body, just know — I tried, but maybe you really will be better in an orphanage.

Your uncle,

One block from work, my phone stops playing music for no good reason. Ordinarily, I’d assume I’d hit my pocket just so, but there’s no chance this time. My hands were out, drumming the air in a mostly unobtrusive way to “Zero” by the Smashing Pumpkins. I really don’t think it was me. The phone’s on the fritz. Sometimes it does this, and I have to just find another song. Just one of those things–something else in the world going wrong. I’m scrolling through artists, wondering if I want to spend the rest of the day listening exclusively to The Police, when I think, “HOO BOY! I’m really going to die someday!”

I said I thought that, but really I shouted part of it at a street vendor. Picture a man walking along, thumbing through his iPhone, walking past a food cart, suddenly screaming, “HOO!” with a look of surprise and a bit of a faint smile.

It’s certainly not the first time this thought has occurred to me; first time I had it I believe I was three or four years old. In the pie chart of Thoughts Most Thought in My Head, it’s probably somewhere between “I want to have sex” and “I could really go for some tater tots.” In junior high, I almost stopped reading horror novels because it no longer seemed to matter if the characters lived or died, since they were all going to die someday (only later realizing that, all things considered, it was better to go in one’s sleep than to be carved up by a clown wielding a rusty chainsaw). These days, I’ve gotten used to the thought, scolded it for being cliche, and yet still it comes bounding along from time to time, in varying strengths and severities. It stops by, says hello, menaces me a bit, then flitters away again to wherever it goes after that.

But like a slap, the thought can be playful or painful. For whatever reason, this morning, it’s born hard–a real sharp crack right across the cheek of my half-awake mind. The smile on my face is because I find the sudden severity of it amusing, and my masochistic side is closely tied to my sense of humor. Call it self-schadenfreude.

It’d be the same if someone came running around the corner with a giant mallet and hit me hard in the stomach. I’d go down, sure, but I’d do so laughing, because, honestly, who does that to someone? Like putting pureed habanero in someone’s OJ, it’s rude but so funny.

Then I’m on the south side of 20th Street, heading west toward my building, watching people walk past me with their dogs and their own iPhones and iPads and Kindles and things, thinking, “Yep. I really am gonna die. Rumor has it it can’t be avoided. And no afterlife, not for me, dirty atheist that I am. It’ll be like before I was born. Remember that? Sure don’t! That’s the good part. I don’t think I know what death’s like, but, really, I do.”

The mind-melting idea of nonexistence, the suffocating lack of any thoughts at all, terrifies me. I cling to fantasies: that maybe everyone else is playing a giant joke on me and no one really ever dies and someday all the people I think are dead, like Stanley Kubrick, my grandfather, and Osama bin Laden, will pop up over the other side of my cubicle and say, “Surprise!”; or that someday, given infinite time, the universe simply has to repeat itself, and I will return to relive my life an impossibly long time from now–a resurrection through recycled molecules, the spiritual equivalent of monkeys eventually randomly retyping Hamlet.

Such thoughts rarely work, and they didn’t today, either. The people passed me, I passed the people, that old drink-to-the-face thought evaporated, and I pushed play on “Next to You.”

Then I went into work and wrote some computer code.