It’s not that I’m grumpy so much as other people are goddamn morons. No, I mostly don’t mean that. That was the grump talking. When I put it like that I sound like a threat to society, and I mean that even less than the moron thing. Don’t mention Trump around your uncle, you know how he gets with his anger and all. Yeah, that’s not me. You can mention Trump around me. I won’t yell unless David or Ben gets me going, and besides, I like knowing who’s a moron and who’s not. But that’s a rabbit trail.
Some people are selfish, and I get grumpy about their selfishness. Some people are lazy, and I get grumpy about their laziness. Or, for a real-life example, I guess, some people are lazy and selfish and don’t do the fucking dishes, and I’m lazy and selfish and get grumpy about it. A messy sink, or a grumpy housemate. It’s more or less the same thing. But sometimes I don’t do my dishes, either.
I’ve been getting grumpy a lot lately. There’s some big fucking dishes in the sink. Gerrymandering. Corruption. A wealth gap that keeps getting wider. There’s a mess of crusty peanut-butter knives and spaghetti-stained forks all over, too, but maybe that’s because you can’t even use the sink with all those big fuckers in the way. Was that analogy too on the nose? I don’t want to treat you like a moron. No one likes being treated like a moron.
I don’t know if I’m more grumpy about those giant dishes or the people rooting for them to stay there, but either way, I’m lazy and selfish about it. I want to metaphorically bludgeon morons into brilliance, or at least into informed critical thinking. Beat some sense and goodness into ‘em. Knock ‘em around like a mafia henchman until they straighten up.
I figure there are three reasons for wanting to keep those giant dishes in the sink. Stupidity, misinformation, or evil. Some people just don’t get it. Fifty percent of the population has below-average intelligence, after all. Like the people whose bodies crumble under eighty minimum-wage hours a week where they’ll make—lifetime total—as much as a good hedge fund manager makes in one day, yet who spend Thanksgiving dinner insisting that we need to repeal the estate tax. And then other people live and act and think in a way that makes perfect sense in their particular tribe of people and information. As far as they know, the U.S.’s richest one percent doesn’t own almost twice as much as the bottom ninety. Gerrymandering hasn’t twisted voting districts into ink blot tests. And then there are some people who know better and just don’t give a shit. Corruption pays.
Sometimes you have to get grumpy, right? It takes volume to get through a thick skull. That’s why teachers are always angry, and why the most successful schools still employ good, old-fashioned paddlin’. Yell some sense into ‘em, preferably with personal insults and condemnations of their overall character. Because that’s how that works. If I yell about the dishes, that’ll change things. Change things right up the way I want them changed.
That’s the point. It’s easy to be grumpy, and it’s real fucking hard to change someone’s mind. I’m not talking about where to eat or whether the new Star Wars was any good. No one cares about that. I’m talking about dishes. Dishes and things like religion, or whether Uncle no-Trump is batshit or actually onto something, or what you want to do with your life. I’ve changed my mind on a few things like that, and when I have, it’s mostly been because of Calvin profs, a few quiet books, a small Episcopal church, and two months of hitchhiking. I don’t need to tell you what I mean by those things, because we’ve got enough cliches about those already. You know the things that’ve changed your mind. Those types of people.
It’s easy to get grumpy. And sometimes—and I’ll stand by this—it’s okay to get very grumpy. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do. But there’s a cost, and the whole thing is risky as hell. If you’re gonna wring someone out for their moronic ideas or head-in-the-ground life or predatory selfishness, accept the fucking cost. Don’t kiss and make up. Don’t apologize. If it’s worth blowing up about, double down. Cross that bastard’s name out of God’s Book of Life, and write his name in the Plastics’ Burn Book. Or her. It doesn’t matter—burn all the way. Take that selfish laziness and put some muscle into it. Burn the bridges and commit, because the sink is full. If it’s not worth that cost, cowboy up and learn grace.
But I’m not gonna do that. I’m selfish and lazy. I’ll keep bitching about politics, skimming headlines about injustice, and talking half-assed shit when people mention Trump around me. I won’t put in the volatile, brutal work of destruction, or the long, self-sacrificing work of gentleness and humility. I’m selfish and lazy about my selfishness and laziness. Just like you.
NPR called Josh deLacy (’13) “a modern-day Jack Kerouac” after he hitchhiked 7,000 miles across the United States, and a few dozen surprised drivers told him he didn’t smell bad. Since that experience, he found homes in the Pacific Northwest, the Episcopal Church, and the post calvin. Josh deLacy’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in places such as The Emerson Review, Front Porch Review, and Perspectives. His website: joshdelacy.com