My friend Katherine and I were talking on the phone the other day. We were complaining about lots of things. Specifically, we were complaining about how much people like to complain. Humans are a very whiney species. And where does it get us? Not much farther than it gets a dog.
Of course dogs whine. When Percy thumps you on the head with his wet Doberman snout minutes after you’ve fallen asleep and whimpers a high-pitched squeal that leaves you noticeably balder than before, that’s whining. When Kittie launches herself across the living room and shreds your Venetian blinds into something resembling fishnet stockings, that’s Kittie blaming you for something.
You may believe that human whining is of greater consequence than pet whining. It’s not. When it comes to throwing tantrums, you might as well be a gorilla beating his head against a tree because the zookeeper gave the other gorilla a bigger banana. Think of that next time you get your panties in a bundle about the following things:
1) Traffic. Yes, traffic is a pisser. Watching the light go from red to green to orange and back to red again without progressing one inch makes me want to exit the car and take a baseball bat to people’s windows. But if there’s road construction, there’s road construction. Does kicking the back of the taxi driver’s seat make the men with drills and orange helmets go away? No, it makes the taxi driver talk shit about you to his best friend in Latvia while you’re sitting right there, too American and therefore stupid to understand that he’s talking trash about you. In other words, throwing fits in traffic spreads bad juju, so we should all just cool our jets. Besides, the construction workers are unionized. They ain’t going any faster.
2) Bad public school teachers. Speaking of unions. What did you imagine would happen when you plop someone in front of thirty-five angry, violent, neglected schoolchildren and tell the person that he’ll never be fired, so long as between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. he ensures that the children don’t kill one another? You didn’t expect him to teach, did you?
3) Being “over-served” at dinner parties. What you really mean is you got plastered and said something that embarrassed you and your family members. My friend Katherine compares this phenomenon to when her little brother was four and dumped his oatmeal all over the breakfast table. ‘You put too much in my bowl!’ he’d shout. As adults, we should all take responsibility for spilling too much fun down our throats.
4) Nannies unaware of the magic of organic. Are you paying your nanny
Alice Waters’ wages? Then don’t expect her to whip up organic chicken lasagna from scratch.
5) Food allergies. Want to know why you have food allergies? Because you’ve been eating organic so long your system doesn’t know how to digest anything but 100% rain forest dirt. If I were you, I’d take off my shoe right now and give it to my kid to lick to build up his pathetic little immune system.
6) Smoking. There’s so much whining surrounding the subject of smoking it’s hard to wrap your head around it. First off, the facts:
a) Smoking causes cancer, and there’s not an ingrate on the planet who doesn’t know this. So if you smoke and get emphysema, you lose the right to sue. Period.
b) Strangely enough, the very same people who call smokers “victims” are the ones who cannot tolerate standing within a five mile radius of them. There’s no reason to be hateful. Just because someone wishes to turn her lungs into laundry lint does not mean it’s okay to treat her like a stinky pile of trash the garbage man forgot to pick up. Smokers are already relegated to sidewalks in most American cities, often not even allowed to indulge their habit in the privacy of their own apartments. Next thing you know, the phrase, “But they were smoking!” will be considered a reasonable defense for murder.
7) The service at the Post Office. Are you kidding? It’s the Post Office. We should be happy they’re not shooting people.
8) The superficial/boring/stupid town in which you live. All of us have blamed our misery on our environments at one time or another. “I can’t get anything DONE in New York,” I’ve been known to shout. From folks in LA: “This place is so superficial, no one gets me.” From people in Kansas, “I’m so bored.”
If you’re unhappy, it’s your fault, not the city’s. End of story. The rare exceptions, of course, are the countries in which you’re likely to step on a hand grenade while mowing the lawn. Then you have every right to be irritable.
9) Getting towed. Here’s a thought: Don’t park in the red zone!
10) ATM charges. Why does everyone think that the convenience of depleting your bank account every time you turn around should be free?
11) Getting wrinkles. It happens.
12) The poor criminals. It’s trendy these days to call criminal acts “crying out for help,” or, “the work of a diseased person.” For instance, calling child molesters “ill.” No shit they’re ill! They fondle little boys and mess with their heads so the boys grow up to be ax murderers, then the ax murderers blames their antisocial behavior on the molestation. There’s always a reason people do screwed up things. There’s no excuse good enough to destroy people’s lives. That should go without saying.
13) Thepoor drug addicts, alcoholics, and people with eating disorders. People with “addictive behaviors” are not possessed by some genetic devil. No matter how mean their parents were to them, they are not helpless. They are not “victims.” Their behavior is perfectly rational. They are in pain, and drinking, snorting, and starving makes them feel better. The only way to get on with life is to want to badly enough.
When it comes to griping, stomping around, and passing the buck, I’m as guilty as the next guy, and I’m trying to figure out why. I don’t like to feel crippled. I like to feel in charge of my life. So why is it so hard to take responsibility for my screw-ups, and damn near impossible to be forgiving of the stupid idiot behavior of others? We’re all fighting to make sense of our lives, to be relevant, to matter. A lot of fancy finger pointing just wastes what little time we have to get happy already.
Hope I don’t sound too whiney.
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