Wednesday, March 4, 2015
I work at a library. You can catch anything here. I've gathered my share of colds, a few flus, maybe a couple of minor rashes I'd rather not think about. Self replicating things are streaming through this place. We had whooping cough recently, strep, some stomach thing once. There are even ideas out on our shelves that have found their way into peoples' brains, spread like fire, and died hard only at the line of some other idea. I see it all spread around here.
But there is no virus as powerful as asshole.
Asshole is a virus.
I catch it everyday. Easiest thing in the world. And we are all carriers.
Asshole is everywhere, quiet and loud. I hear it in every newscast, lurking in the background, and it comes up to me everyday and tosses its library card down on my desk. My co-workers come back to me at the phones and tell me stories of asshole. Oh all the asshole stories! Most of our books here have at least one in them, to set ringing in our ears. To make it real. Most of our jobs here have been touched by asshole, co-worker, boss, patron towing their virus through the world. Our families, our society, our neighborhood all invaded by the deadly strain. No amount of hand sanitizer can stop asshole. There is not enough hand sanitizer in the Universe.
It spreads better than any cold, hotter than Ebola, more clever than dandelions and relentless as a swarm of locusts. It's a snowstorm, a fire. What a genius it has. Here is its genius:
One encounters the virus of asshole and it irritates, it riles, it pinches. It makes a person crabby and tight. "Fine," you complain "If that's what generosity gets me, an open heart, naivety, if that's what the world is! I will put on the armor for this war of inches.
Asshole has no eloquence but this: Asshole says "The only way to fight me is with myself."
And it's right. The way to kill a hydra is to cut it's head off.
But that's fighting, and fighting belongs to asshole.
Love might kill it somehow. Generosity. But let's face it. The disease has spread too far. It is part of our DNA. We cannot win. Refusing it is hopeless. But what say we do it anyway? An enemy is an enemy, even if it is us.