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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hatchet Piece Revisited: 101 Things I Hate

The following is an homage (read: shameless rip-off) of a brilliant essay written by John Waters many years ago. It was included in his book Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters, a book I regularly recommend over most classical literature and religious texts as painfully essential reading. But then, I would.

Interesting bit of Glee Club trivia: This isn't the first time I've ripped off - erm, paid tribute - to this essay. My first Hatchet Piece was published over a decade ago as part of a weekly column I wrote for my college newspaper. The title of my column? Desperate Living.

Thank you, Mr. Waters (and your attorneys), wherever you are. The original essay on which today's rant is based is (needless to say) far superior, and I'm sure I'm not the only one in the world who's been inspired to copy such a brilliantly obvious idea for a piece of writing.

Frankly, I think Hatchet Piece writing should be a required writing exercise in all public and private school systems. If more kids were encouraged to express their hatred in the form of lists and essays, there'd be less violence in the classroom, mark my words. And hey, let's not forget the homeschool kids - maybe they can put together a PowerPoint presentation of all the things that rile them.

Anyway, I was feeling particularly prickly this morning, so the following is a hopeful exorcism of my bile. Enjoy. Or piss off. Whichever's easiest for you.

* * * * * * * * * *
I wake up (1) wishing I were a giant tarantula so I could rise from my nest and crush entire neighborhoods with a pinch of my filthy mandibles. Then I remember, I hate spiders (2) - always crapping up perfectly good homes with their tacky cobwebs and generally wasting my time with their disgusting displays of menace and vulgarity. Am I supposed to be impressed? I don't want these creatures defecating their repulsive "string art" in my home, and that's that.

I toss in my bed, obsessing over the possibility that arachnids may well be God's Big Mistake. Then I consider Rene Russo (3), Kenny G. (4), artificial heat (5) and microwaveable french fries (6). Intelligent design? I have doubts sometimes, I really do.

Then my alarm clocks (7) go off. Even though I am so petrified of being late to work (8) that I always wake up before my alarm, I set two clocks just to be sure. One of my alarms is my mp3 player, which I'm starting to think is a bad idea. No matter what music I choose to wake up to, I always wake up hating it, just out of principle. This morning, I woke up to Donna Summer (9).

As I seethe in the shower, I meditate on how much the entire cast of Desperate Housewives (10) pisses me off. And I think they do it on purpose, just to get a rise out of me personally! Anyone with sense can see that annoying me is a national pastime. How else could the Black Eyed Peas (11) have gotten so popular?

I somehow manage to quit hating long enough to get dressed and out the door for work. On my way to the nearest bus stop (12), I pass a vending box containing copies of the Chicago Sun-Times (13). I actually feel my teeth ache as I see more sports coverage (14) on the cover. Who cares about the White Sox (15)? And don't take that as some kind of partisan sports loyalist bullshit comment. I hate the Cubs (16), too - maybe even more, because I live so close to Wrigley Field (17) and have to deal with sports fans (18) on a regular basis. I hate Sammy Sosa (19), Tiger Woods (20) and John Madden (21)! I hate it even worse when they try to "act" in commercials (22)! Can't they just play their little ball games (23) and record vanity rap albums (24) or whatever it is that sports people do among their own vile little communities? Don't interrupt my broadcasting pleasure with your tepid attempts at entertaining - I don't care if you are merely shilling for Right Guard deodorant (25) - go away!

I'm so full of bitterness at this point that I nearly miss the bus, which always stops several feet away from where I'm standing (26), because stopping nearer to me would be too much like right. The doors yawn open and I glare at the farebox (27). "Why don't you go to Hell?" I say to it, before I even board. I don't even acknowledge the bus driver because I'm not ready for people yet. The bus is already half-full (28) and I'm denied my natural right to enjoy one of the one-seaters and forced to plant myself where someone might - oh God - sit next to me (29).

Accepting my fate, I look up and notice a slobber-jawed old lady across the aisle staring at me (30), serving up a big hot cup of scowl in my direction. I return the favor, narrowing my eyes to murderous slits and mumbling profanities at her under my breath. Our collective bad vibe gets so thick that the bus driver actually stops the vehicle and threatens to turn it around if we don't knock it off. "Smile!", the bus driver tells me (31).

I don't trust people who smile (32). I mean sure, smiling is great if you have a reason for it. If you're laughing or getting married or if someone gives you money or something. That's fine. But people who walk around with a big, wet grin on their face, right out in public (33)? I hope the government is keeping a close watch on these types, because I sure as Hell suspect that something's up, and I can assure you it ain't pretty. I can't smile on command, so put your cameras away unless you want a portrait full of sourpuss.

I thank heavens I'm such a spiritually together person when the next incident occurs: someone sits next to me (34) and actually gets out her cell phone (35) and starts talking on it (36)! I may hate cell phones worse than I hate spiders, Precious Moments figurines (37) or Celine Dion (38). Go ahead and call me a Luddite, but I can't think of anything more disgusting than having to hear some stranger's phone conversations (39). Why do cell phone yappers never have anything interesting to say? Just once, I'd love it if someone flipped open their cell in front of me, dialed their buddy, and started off with "I've just completed a tri-state terror spree and I'm calling to dictate my memoir." Is that too much to ask?

The balance of my miserable bus ride is riddled with thoughts of golden retrievers (40), interactive theatre (41), and those bastards who rubber-band carry-out menus to my doorknob (42). I don't believe in the death penalty (43), but I've considered booby-trapping my door as a punishment for the next offender who dares litter my doorway with another insipid Thai menu. At least the telemarketers (44) seem to have knocked it off...probably just the same people, different media.

When I arrive at work, I try to walk in the office, but people are standing in the doorway having a conversation (45). Why do people do this? Doorways are where people go in and out. That's why they build doors there. The offending conversationalists look at me as if I were interrupting the signing of the damn Magna Carta as I try to pass through. I glare at them as I wedge past, trying my best to literally set their hair on fire with my eyes.

I get to my desk and try to focus on something other than armageddon. It's a slow day, and I consider making small-talk before reminding myself that accepted office banter is limited to reality television (46), babies (47) and dogs (48). I have nothing to say. It's nearly 8:00 a.m. - I need to find the least healthy thing possible in the vending machine to counteract the effects of the Kasha "Go Lean" oatmeal (49) I ate earlier this morning.

I get to the vending machine and the vending lady (50) is re-stocking it, and I have to wait. I laugh darkly. This always happens. Daily. No matter when I decide to stop by the vending machine, that damn woman is ALWAYS there, thumbing through Snickers bars (51) and taking the sweetest time possible in so doing. It is the law of the fates that I must be denied refreshments at all times - heaven forbid I experience something akin to pleasure at the workplace!

With my stomach now in full-growl mode, I stomp to the restroom. I don't really need to go, but I want to sit in a stall and enjoy some privacy as I quietly weep for the sheer magnitude of finely-crafted stupidity I must continually endure on a moment-to-moment basis.

I enter the stall, and of course it's unflushed (52), with an unsightly surprise bobbing around in the water (53), just waiting for me to gag so it can grin its smug little bowel movement smile. "Mission accomplished again!" I can hear it babble. I flush the toilet aggressively. Take that, asshole.

Who doesn't know to flush a toilet after doing a number two? I would understand if I worked in a facility that rehabilitates people who were raised in the wild by wolves and donkeys, but no. I work for corporate America (54). Did I just answer my own question?

I wipe off the seat and savor a relaxing, embittered pout in the stall until I hear the men's room door squeak open. Whoever it is, they're whistling (55). People who whistle should be forced to have their lips surgically altered into beaks, because I don't want to hear it and I know I'm far from alone...especially not in a public facility in which I am ostensibly attempting to evacuate!

Then, as if that's not bad enough, this men's room masher attempts speaking to me (56)! "Awfully cold out there today," he says in his sing-song voice, as if I'm not on to him.

"Leave me alone!" I cry in response. "I need to concentrate!"

The idea of holding an actual conversation with a complete stranger as one or both parties attempts to complete a biological waste function is a concept that sends me reeling with horror. Please, spare me your brown moments!

This latest incident forces a song into my head that will remain there all day (57). Sadly, that song is "Lady" (58) by the Little River Band (59). My meditation has been savaged, so I pull up my pants, fake another flush, and hurry out of the men's room before the whistling freak has a chance to accost me further with his blood-numbing preoccupation with locker room rapport (60).

I walk down the hall back to my desk and someone has the nerve to say hello to me (61). I stop abruptly and stomp in place as I yell back, "what about Coldplay?? (62) How will your trite little 'hello' cure their existence from my life? HOW?!"

Shortly thereafter, I'm asked by my manager if I'd like to vacate the building on my own or with a security escort. I thought it was sweet to be given an option, so I said "listen, I don't want any ham-fisted rent-a-cop (63) laying a finger on my freshly-laundered garments," and I wiped the froth off my shirt and made my way to the elevators with dignity (64) in tact.

After waiting (65) what seemed like an eternity, I stepped into the elevator and made notice of the other person in the car, and my radar immediately went off: elevator talker. I accidentally locked eyes with her. Bad idea. Her mouth was a spring ready to coil. "Don't you just love the carpet in here?" Sproi-oi-oing.

"I'm going through a difficult transition right now and I need some time to process," I mumbled, quickly reaching for my sunglasses and putting them on for that "besieged celebrity" look (66). Chatty Cathy was silent for the rest of the ride, even if it was an awkward silence (67).

As soon as the elevator doors swept open on the ground floor, a couple of schmoes immediately began shoving their way past us before we had a chance to exit the elevator (68). If I am never able to impart anything else of worth to anybody through my written or spoken words, I would be satisfied if this one simple thought resonated through all of mankind:


And I mean "idiots" in the most endearing way.

I somehow manage to escape the elevator region in one piece, and find myself in a vast wasteland of hate as I step into the lobby, which has recently been remodeled into a kind of "corporate mini-mall" (69). A smiling guy with a wicker basket (70) approaches me and asks if I'd like to buy a charity bracelet (71). I loathe those things - insulting little bands of dirty rubber with profane words like "joy"(72) and "hope"(73) and "eternity"(74) stamped on 'em. Why can't I have a bracelet that says "ennui" or "doomed" or "botchulism"?!? It's my dollar, isn't it?!?

I give him a dollar if he promises never to speak to me again, and he complies with a pert "have a nice day!" (75) The muzak speakers (76) overhead are pumping a Nickelback (77) song into our skulls. There's no such thing as proper Muzak anymore - the sickeningly syrupy-sweet instrumental renditions of current pop songs, re-recorded into edge-free, flute-heavy aural styrofoam. I'm sure it's because today's hit parade from Hell (78) is so aggressively devoid of character, remaking any of it as Muzak would be terribly beside the point.

Someone walks past me slurping from a bowl of what looks like frozen entrails, purchased from that insidious Starbucks of frozen sweets, Coldstone Creamery (79). I've tried their "food" twice - both times I noted that it had the taste and texture of cold Play-Doh. And the cult-like employees (80) need to knock it off with their little metal spatula hand jives (81) and the jarring sing-song chants (82) they're apparently forced to perform continually. I hate any kind of recreational service in which I'm expected to participate in any way other than as a passive consumer. I know I already listed it, but I hate interactive theater (83) so much that it warrants a second mention. If I'm expected to assist a production in entertaining the rest of the audience, I want billing and I want money. What I don't want is some laughing boy in a ren-faire (84) costume forcing me to take part in a knock-knock joke (85).

Quick summary: Interactive theater performers, please don't a) touch me, b) talk to me, c) acknowledge my presence. Thanks, kittens.

I forget where I am for a moment because I'm too busy fixating on Harriet Miers (86), and where she thought she got off in the first place. My rage is spacious enough for the entire Bush Administration (87), which I realize is fashionable, but I might even hate them if they weren't in favor of bulldozing kittens and coersing leaders of foreign countries to pose for polaroids dressed like Olive Oyl. I can't stand listening to our president (88) talk (89). He always sounds like he's trying to teach us something, like he's giving a little sermon. My stomach sours thinking about it, and I make a face like Dick Cheney (90).

I also abhor people who use vacuum cleaners around me (91), people who eat fast food on public transportation (92) and all forms of pickle (93).

And don't think I've forgotten about you, Andi MacDowell! (94)

Completely blown away in a haze of my own hate, I don't even realize that I've somehow wound up in an alley, rolling around in a mud puddle and drawing a crowd as I scream uncontrollably, "Hillary Duff! (95) People who wear baseball hats at dinner! (96) The current fashion trend of wearing bikini tops over t-shirts! (97) The cast of 'Friends' (yes, still)! (98) I can't take it anymore!"

I then begin to levitate and twirl, my own bile having become so all-encompassing that I have become a complete being of light, only not in a "good" way like Madonna (99) keeps ranting about these days. As I rise above the skyline of Chicago, I look down and experience a killer wave of vertigo (100). I can feel sickness coursing up through my guts and my esophagus, and finally I clamp my eyes shut and let it stream forth from my mouth:

"la la la, la la la-la la
i just can't get you out of my head"


Anonymous Cheryl said...

It sounds like you have a mean case of PMS going....

7:19 PM, October 27, 2005  
Blogger Franklin said...

I sense...anger.

1:14 PM, November 01, 2005  
Blogger Andy's Crafts said...

To tell you the truth I saw myself in a way. Some days I feel like I am in a cartoon life, some days is a looney toon! Great work, great mind!

3:05 PM, November 02, 2005  
Blogger Frank said...

Wow... That's a nice rant... Although, I am a Renaissance Faire Performer and Director, and I have known you from time to time, and always had good vibes from ya....while being an interactive theater performer, I do hate it just as much as many in the audience do... I'm more a performer for the quick laughs, and the fancy-schmancy clothes that make me look more normal than I usually care to admit....but the thought of having to entertain the beer swilling, cheese eating wisconsonites sometimes grates on me after doing it for 13 years. Still, consumate professional that I am, the show must go on so the corporation can rake in the moolah.... Why is it though, that I get so little of that dough? the Arts don't pay... at least not in Chicago :-)

9:57 AM, November 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant Tribute to Waters! Good Job

1:32 PM, August 02, 2012  

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