Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Show Yourself Out

I was listening to an obit this morning about a notable person whose accomplishments, which were many, apparently did not keep him from mingling with his fellow humans. Despite his notoriety and many awards he was, they said, “a man of the people.”

This usually infers that the person under discussion possessed a certain humility. Rather than stay home and admire himself in the mirror, he found the time to wander the Town Square, buy himself an Egg McMuffin, and inquire of his fellow diners how they felt about world events and so on. It reassures us to know that even the greatest of us share something of a common humanity with those of us who are not so blessed.

Now speaking as a people myself, I suppose this is an admirable thing, a good way to stay grounded when all those about you are devoted to inflating your opinion of yourself. However, I do feel that it’s important to strike a blow for misanthropy now and again.

Humanity and I have exchanged pleasantries for almost a good 50 years now and, I have to say, I don’t think we’re any closer now than we were 50 years ago. We continue to eye each other warily, like a High School principal and a student wearing a Metallica t-shirt.

And I should probably admit that, were I lucky enough to come into the sort of financial success that usually accompanies the accolades of one’s peers, I would not exactly be what you would call a Man Of The People. The extent to which I resemble one now is only due to necessity and the fact that I have to eat, that is to say, I am a Man Of The People Under Protest.

Were making a living no longer a consideration, I would be the furthest thing from a Man Of The People that you could imagine. I would then have the luxury of being a Man Who Avoids The People, and I would sequester myself accordingly, free at last from the agony of making small talk and exchanging opinions. In truth, I’ve only really ever cared for one opinion and that’s my own. Different ones make me uncomfortable and cranky, to be honest.

All meals would be eaten in and I would have Christo swaddle my home in blankets. The road leading up to my house would be several miles long and strewn with barbed wire and glass. I would have a spokesman who would report on my condition from time to time, for the sake of those parties who were still interested. “He’s enjoying the peace and quiet provided by the lack of your constant irritating white noise,” he’d say to applause. And I would chair a number of philanthropic organizations, although their aims would be totally selfish, with names like The Help Me Get Richer Foundation and The Campaign To Keep You Away From Me.

Then after as I was gone, they could say of me wistfully, “He never had to meet a man he didn’t like.”


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