Yesterday at a work Town Hall, I very publicly asked a question to a boss who made $88 million dollars last year. Nothing offensive or explicit, but it was a smart-ass remark. My co-workers giggled and afterwards people gave me high-fives.
I got home and re-told the story to my wife. Afterwards she faced me with a serious look and asked “Why do you give into these impulses?“
It’s a good question, my wife is one of the smartest people I’ve ever me and she KNOWS me. (Most people who know me or have worked with me can probably site examples of this terrible, self-destructive behavior.)
I’m going to try and answer that question.
In no particular order:
Sometimes I’ll think “it would be cool if someone did (obnoxious act or stupid remark).” And when no one does it, I decide “I guess I’ll have to do it.”
I fell in love with “The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner” and its romanticization of self-destructive rebels.
Working-class people ruin their opportunities for upward mobility, so that they don’t betray their people.
In high school I did a book report about Abraham Lincoln and fell in love with this detail: John Wilkes Booth shot himself, with the attitude that “only a Booth is worthy to take the life of a Booth.” Maybe I’m wired the same way, I want to beat my oppressors to the punch.
I fear success.
In my old sketch group I wrote a scene about a jerk who goes on Jeopardy and keeps losing points by including editorial commentary in his answers. The Final Jeopardy had a clue about the 40th President of the United States. But our man bet all his money and said “Who is mass-murdered Ronald Regan?” He lost the game, but as far as he was concerned he won.
I think Buddy handled this situation just right:
Does any of this make sense?
If you could see the inside of my mind, you’d ask “why is the dashboard covered with so many prominently placed SELF-DESTRUCT buttons?”
I think Willy Vlautin would understand — he writes about a lot of troubled fuck-ups who are their own worst enemies. In an interview Willy talks about how when he was younger he owned a lot of Charles Bukowski books, and after spending a lot of money on them, he decided the books were a bad influence and if he got rid of the books, he’d turn his life around. Maybe Vlautin is my Bukowski and I should get rid of his novels.
Don’t worry, Willy. I’ll never do that.
To be continued…..