I survived my week-long agony at work. Big conference, with many attendees and I was the Johnny-on-the-spot to put it all together. Fortunately, it went very well and the big bosses were happy. Today is the first day in two weeks I have not been in the office so I fully intend to enjoy it by goofing off before getting back to work writing tomorrow.
I had to delay my trip to the local grocery until this weekend. I normally shop in the evening after work, and for good reason. Everywhere, teeming masses of shoppers. Old folks trundling along with their carts. Families squabbling over brand preference. Two old friends who had not seen each other chatting in the middle of the aisle.
I’m an in-an-out shopper (keep your naughty jokes to yourself). I go in to get what I come for and leave – no lingering, no strolling every square foot of the store. Everywhere I turned, some other doofus was in my way. All that kept going through my head was the following Simpsons dialogue:
Mr. Burns: Before you begin, let me make one thing clear to you. I want your legal advice. I even pay for it. But to me, you’re all vipers. You live on personal injury, you live on divorces, you live on pain and misery! But, I’m rambling. Coffee anyone?
Lawyer: I’ll have some coffee.
Mr. Burns: Want it black, don’t you? Black like your heart! It’s so hard for me to listen to you, I HATE YOU ALL SO MUCH!
It’s enough to make you want to order grocery delivery.
Sometime in the past few weeks, I shared some of my writing with a secretary at work. She read it, more to humor me than anything, I think. The first story she read was The King of Belmer, my sole venture into Lovecraftian-horror. (It will, by the way, be appearing in an e-book anthology called State of Terror: Louisiana, by Rymfire e-Books. It should be out … sometime.) The story concerns a somewhat annoying couple and their bayou adventure – and subsequent bad things that happen to one of them. This secretary also read another of my stories. Afterward, I asked her what I thought. Her response?
"You don’t like women, do you?"
(This wouldn’t precisely come as a shock to Mrs. Axe, who has hinted that I harbor such sentiments.)
I never really thought about it. My stories feature a lot of bad things happening to women. A lot of bad things happen to the men, too. I’ve written some heroic fiction – you know, white knight, paragon of virtue, that sort of thing – but it never resonates with me as well as the darker stuff. Most of my protagonists are basically good / moral but have a lot of rough edges, and a lot of horrible things happen to good people – and bad people, and all kinds of people. Why?
I did the best I could. I tried to be calm but my patience snapped. One lady had her damn cart turned sideways, blocking the entire aisle while she poked around in the spaghetti sauce. My fingers clenched the handlebar until my knuckles were white. I waited about two seconds for her to look up and see me there …. then I pushed my cart into hers, knocking hers out of the way. She glared at me but I ignored her. Why?
Simple. I don’t hate women.
I hate everyone.
Not a misogynist, sports fans. A misanthrope. Okay, I agree, "hate" is a strong word. Too much energy tied up in that active emotion. And most people aren’t worth that kind of effort. Humanity is to be feared, distrusted, and when possible, ignored.
The Matrix is a good movie but the more I watch it, the more I start to agree with Agent Smith’s point-of-view. Not that humans are viruses in some hippie, humans-are-a-cancer ecological silliness, but that humanity as a whole has not advanced very far from the jungle; we’re still the same greedy, narcissistic, selfish bastards we were when were still competing with the other chimps for control of the tribe.
I can get along great with individuals. People, as a group? Uhm, when is the end of the world coming again? I weep for an individual’s pain and suffering. When aliens drop out of the sky and destroy our race as a threat to the good order of the universe, they would be right to do so.
I let someone else (not the same woman) read my Sheyla stories, which feature a female protagonist, who is bright, self-confident, and thinks before using her sword arm. Many (but not all) of the men in that universe – those with whom Sheyla interacts – are stupid brutes, sexual deviants, or cowards. Sheyla was my attempt at having a Conan-type character in a similarly amoral, unscrupulous world but with the extra challenge of being female (in a time & place where women were second-tier citizens). The response?
"Seems like kind of a feminist tract."
You can’t please everyone. Sometimes, you can’t please anyone. I think I should move to a ranch in the western highlands where I don’t have any neighbors and can do my writing and woodworking, and live in peace….
Oh wait. I still have to go to town and get groceries.
If anyone would like to weigh in on my anti-woman leanings, feel free.