ESSAYS & SHORT FICTION
My sister is way to god damn nice. It’s as if while in my mother’s warm womb my sister vacuumed all the kindness out of her so that when it came time for me to be conceived the only traits left on the personality shelf were sarcasm and self-deprecation. I’ve made due, but it hasn’t been easy. My family dynamics have me filed under PRICK, Jerkface while my sister basks in the golden glory of PERSON, Good.
The third party interactions between me, my sister and X in public usually end up making everyone involved upset in some way. I hardly have to open my mouth for this to happen. I say please, thank you, okay, combien?, but comparatively my efforts fall short of the mark that she sets so high with her daily joie de vivre. Admittedly my push is meager. It’s actually not even enough to compete. But I can’t live with this type of disparity in my life, so I venture to call her up to talk about it. The presence of this phone call has me in a state of total anxiousness. My sister and I hardly converse. For the 5 minutes that we do converse once a month it is usually spent discussing the parents and our mutual dissatisfaction with the monarchy. Thankfully, one of the greater qualities of being PRICK, Jerkface is selfishness, so I am willing to put the awkwardness of asking my sister a personal question aside in order to obtain a satisfying answer.
“Who died?” My family’s natural response for any unsolicited phone call.
I mull over the possibility of how a dead baby joke could fit into this situation, but then I realize it would be a joke wasted. She’s too nice. Nice people don’t respond well to dead baby jokes.
“No one died. How come you are such a nice good hearted person?”
“What? What did Daddy say?”
“Nothing. How come you care so much and it’s easy for you to contribute positively to society?”
“I don’t understand the context.”
“The context is the world, and the question is how you fit into it.”
“Oh. I guess I care because that is what you’re supposed to do. I’m just following the rules.”
“The Jesus rules?”
“That’s not funny.”
“Do you think I’m a good person?”
“Do you want to think about it?”
“No. You’re all right. You’re not a bad person. You’re just too meh about everything.”
“Oh yeah totally. Are we done here?”
Somehow the result of that conversation had the opposite effect of satisfying. According to my sister not only does my status as PRICK, Jerkface remain intact, I now belong to the Meh Society. I hang up the phone feeling like I’ve been wrongfully convicted. The crime: not caring about anything.
Inside I feel like Bob Barker giving away that car. How come my outsides don’t show it? I care, and I do a bunch of things that require good heartedness. I pay my taxes. I bought a poppy. If you’re a street kid that looks like Harmony Korine, I’ll even give you $20. Would doing it with a smile make all the difference in how I am perceived by the good hearted kids? I don’t want to be like her, but I also don’t want to be the opposite of her. Somewhere in the middle between murder and Mazel Tov?
She’s right. I am too Meh about everything. I’m in Meh-gatory.
Well, at least I know my whole neighborhood is down here with me.