Misanthrope

Posted: October 4, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in Uncategorized

I have said it a million times( OK…OK…I’ve said it 5 or 6 times give or take); I LOVE Words. I think more than using new and cool words, I really love to discover them. When I say “discover” what I really mean is that I figuratively get off my literary fat ass and look up a word I have heard several times before, and yet I’m not entirely certain of it’s definition. I do like to misuse words, but I like to know that I’m misusing them, purposefully and for my own entertainment. My favorite example of cool word discovery is when I looked up the word “pedantic” after being told I couldn’t go to the bathroom by a teacher…IN FUCKING COLLEGE. In hindsight, maybe if I had held my groin, crossed my legs and squirmed around, maybe he’d have taken me more seriously. After hearing about this another teacher mentioned with a chuckle that “certain teachers at our college could be a little pedantic. I agreed and then I looked up the word, because looking smart and educated always takes precedence over being smart and educated.

For weeks afterward I used “pedantic” whenever possible. I slipped it in during lovemaking “Oh take that you pedantic slut…you know you want it” I took an extra special delight when I used it and others got a look on their face that they didn’t know exactly what it meant…Morons. I started using it incorrectly to see if I could get away with it, which is another one of my favorite word games.

“Hey Scott, you tried that new Mexican place “Loco Louies” on Astoria Blvd…how was it?”

“You know, I have eaten there twice, and I found their tacos and rice to be…pedantic, very pedantic Mexican food.”

“So, you liked it?”

Then in my most wonderful Coach Bill Belichick moment, I narrowed my eyes and mumbled ” I think I was pretty clear about how I feel about their food”

Once during a Pity Party and Reassurance Reception with my best friend, she once told me “Well honey you’re not the most prolific writer.” I became very quiet, told her I was tired and was going to bed, and then, after hanging up I wept. The next morning I woke up, still very depressed and finally decided to look up “Prolific”. It turns out, she was right…but I’ll never tell her that.

My latest word is “Misanthrope”. Now I knew contextually that it had to do something with hate or disliking, which sounded right up my alley. So last night I broke down and looked it up.

Misanthrope or misanthropist.

A person who has a general dislike or distrust for the human race. Although they dislike the majority of the human race they can function considerably well in sexual and friendly relationships. They are often humored and disgusted by the human species. They are not often harsh or bitter people.

Oh Great Spirit…It’s ME!! There is a dictionary definition of ME. Oh Happy Days. I’m going to send Miriam-Webster some photos of me to put next to the definition. I’m thoughtful that way. I am a misanthrope…not a selfish douchebag.

I find it fascinating that a person who dislikes humanity so much has chosen to spend the past 20 plus years in a city of eight to ten million other humans. I’d be so much better suited to working solo at a research facility in Greenland, playing Scrabble online and yelling out my window at penguins “Hey you kids, get off my goddamn lawn, I’m not telling you again”

Maybe the reason I’m in NYC is that it is such a paradise for misanthropes. The city that never sleeps is chock full of people just begging to have others shake their head in disbelief and disgust at them. Some of my favorite conversations with my NYC friends ( Yes I have friends, Misanthropes can have friends…it’s in the rule book) have to do with our shared annoyance and hatred of others.

“I wish they’d build a bridge over Times Square for RESIDENTS only, then not only will I be able to get around without crawling behind stupid tourists, but I’d still be able to spit on them”

“Oh I know. I was trying to cross Broadway the other day and was stuck behind two dumb assed hicks taking pictures of Bubba Gumps”

(In an exaggerated Southern drawl) ” Looka thar Jethro, that buildings got more’n FIVE floors high”

“Ah knows Bubba, Dat thar guide book said that Applebees is right ’round “chere”

I’m an agnostic ( Yeah, I had to look that one up too), and I still pray…sometimes several times a day. I was thrilled to discover that I could do both. I’m equally thrilled to discover that I can hate humanity, and still love individuals as well as have friends.

With the exception of humanity…the world’s an alright place.

Comments
  1. Ralph Tyler says:

    I liked this Whine, maybe because I’m crazy about words too. And your “misanthrope with friends” is a winning concept, since everything must have an exception (not to be pedantic). Interestingly, we both use Southern tourists delaying passage through Time Square in recent writings. Here’s mine, in a recent story:

    Carlton Tries To Bridge The Gap Carlton woke up around 3 a.m. and had trouble falling back to sleep. He was condemned to thinking about reality, how bleak it tended to be, how full of forms to fill out, dental appointments, lingering recessions, misunderstandings—not just his reality, everybody’s. Then he thought about fantasy, the pleasure of daydreams, of the imaginary world that seemingly couldn’t be damaged. Existing in thin air, however, fantasy usually evaporates. That was the trouble; it was so insubstantial compared to robust reality, which simply wasn’t going to go away. He rolled over to his other side. Sleep couldn’t be summoned. All of a sudden he had a revelation of the kind that earns sainthood for martyrs in some religions. Carlton, in his person, could bridge the gap, offering his sturdy self to perform acts of fantasy in the real world, making fantasy more real, and reality more fantastic. The effort might cost him, but he would do it for his and humanity’s sake. Sleep came. The next morning he barked: “Arf! Arf! You handsome dog!” at the face barely discernable in the misted shaving mirror. With that embellishment of reality under his belt, he was ready to face the day. His commute took him from one cubicle—his so-called “studio” apartment in Queens among Sri Lankans—to another—his job in Manhattan among deluded go-getters, both toeholds on the slippery slope that the 21st century had turned out to be for Carlton and millions like him. But who’s whining? Not him. He was going to make a difference. “People!” Carlton raised his voice from a pole position in the crowded subway. “Cavemen choose your caveladies! The great tribal ritual has begun. Hear the beat of dancing feet. We’re here, in one body, to do the work of the world.” “Please,” a man with what Carlton saw was a baby strapped to his chest, “not so loud.” “How old?” Carlton asked softly. The man held up three fingers and whispered “Months.” Carlton kept quiet until he was expelled in a great whoosh at Grand Central. Stars, snatched from the sky, would soon twinkle above. He was among the herded city dwellers but he semi-tap danced and semi-tangoed up to the realm where suburbanites, fresh from their green utopias, crisscrossed a cathedral-sized space that once boasted stars from Hollywood coming off cross-country adulteries in lavish roomettes . “Where ‘s Carol Lombard when we need her?” He asked no one in particular, who replied, “Who she?” “Check your Turner Classic Movie schedule,” he advised. “Don’t have cable.” “Just a laughing goddess shot down during a troupe tour. Adolph the insufferable also killed one of my granddads, the one I never got a chance to know. The other granddad who grew hair in his ears was scary when I was thrust onto his lap.” “It happens, Bud.” Nobody in particular hurried away as from a contagious disease, which distress, of course, is. Carlton’s semi-dance steps slowed as he made his way through a Times Square cleaned up for the tourists, lollygaggers the lot of them. He was excessively polite to a group of Southerners who blocked his way, playing what he thought was their game. “Sir,” he said to the group’s patriarch, “I’d love to linger with you for a photo op, but unkind fate calls me away, a little matter of earning a living among hard-driving Yankees.” He tipped his hatless head, pleased that he hadn’t drawled “you all,” and zigzagged along until stopped by an importunate clown. “No.” he shook his head. Anything to do with circuses had depressed Carlton since childhood. The cadged “freaks” for starters, followed by the main event, waiting for the performers to plunge from their trapezes on the unfunny clowns and cowed elephants linked snout to tail on the sawdust below. The man with the painted tears and a red bobble nose persisted. “What is it with you clowns?” Carlton asked. “Just trying to make a dime providing a laugh” “I’m not laughing.” Nevertheless Carlton dug into a pocket for that dime and a bit more. After all, he himself with his plan to put reality in fancy dress shared something with this mountebank. The thought was painful. Were they both barking up the wrong tree denuded of golden apples? He knew it was unprettified reality that was calling the tune at the moment, hurrying his steps toward a job he despised, and which probably despised him, and which many said he was lucky to have. “Sure,” he would reply, “like a galley slave who has the good fortune to be bent to his oars.” “You’re not lashed by a galley master.” “You haven’t met my boss.” “You could pull a Bartleby, tell your boss you would prefer not to.” “I believed Bartleby starved to death, at least he did in the British movie I saw of it. I’m not sure what Melville had in mind.” Carlton had been an English major, with a minor in film studies, because he wanted to discuss books and see films in class rather than drowse over economic texts which he believed justified the avarice of the rich the students hope to become. He also didn’t see himself dissecting freshly drowned East River corpses while dreaming of being a doctor on the golf links on the island that gave Bermuda shorts their name and exposed many a knobby knee. Didn’t he still have the magical island of Manhattan? Not to mention the multicultural promontory of Queens, where a neighbor could be a Rumanian adventuress who had sung at a boite de nuit on a barge anchored off the Bosphorus? Manhattan sprouted towers like dandelions, and here was his. As he went up in the crowded elevator his thoughts soared. If only he could keep on going into a sky that forgave all sins, even New Jersey’s. When the elevator stopped at floor 23, the number he had punched, Carlton didn’t get out. “I’m staying for the sky,” he explained to the four remaining passengers. “The last man who jumped from this building struck a pregnant newlywed,” he was cautioned by the tallest and perhaps the most fatherly of the four. “I wont jump. I want to exalt in humankind’s daring—from rude huts to this.” “This what?” The man got out, not waiting for an answer. “Height,” Carlton shouted after him as the elevator door glided shut. The remaining passengers huddled away from him “No, no. I’m not crazy,” Carlton said. “Just want to celebrate our reach for the heavens.” “Some of us have work to do.” The man punched “Open” and the three filed out. They turned to face Carlton. One of then pulled out a cell phone and began thudding it with fat fingers– probably, Carlton thought, to call Security. In pontifical mode, Carlton announced: “I have work to do too, making the world the delightful place it is for people who don’t notice.” After the doors glided shut he turned toward the elevator’s buttons, hesitating between “Up” and “Down.” He consulted his wristwatch and chose the latter—he was already ten minutes late for work. # # #

  2. Thank you as always Ralph my friend. Great piece You’re always so gentle, well mannered and kind…but I think we might just make a “Junior Curmudgeon” out of you yet…Hahahaha. I don’t think “Misanthrope” and “Friendless” are automatically synonymous. Thanks for reading.
    S>>>>

  3. PS. I think Southern Tourists are the perfect foil for New York stories. They are often polite, while we are brusque, they are slow and without purpose, we are fast with too much purpose hahaha

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