Sometimes I hang around with scientists who are much smarter than most people. One of them recently told me that he had figured out that nothing was good or bad and the universe was just a meaningless play of forces, but that he still chose to be nice to people. I was scared. “What will we do with all the people who are not as smart as we are?” I asked. “Surely when they find out nothing is good or bad they will come and hurt us, and blind us, and make us circus animals in their traveling shows.” “Don’t worry.” he assured me. “We will lie to them and tell them some things are good and some things are bad, and not killing us is in the former character, and torturing us and turning us into human chickens like in Freaks is in the latter.”
Sometimes I hang around with unselfish people. “What should we do about the people who are not as good as we are?” I said. “Fight them.” they said. “Love who they are but fight them, until there is nobody left who is not good.”
My smart friends thought my unselfish friends were stupid and my unselfish friends thought my smart friends were bad. I was hoping to get my smart and good friends together to work it out. It was just hard to make the schedule work.
Truth be told my heart wasn’t in it. I was having some problems at home. My family, for reasons I don’t want to get into on a public blog, had decided they didn’t like me so much any more Also my illness had flared up and I was afraid — that my skin — but you don’t need to know about that either, and to make things worse the discomfort of the illness had me fearful and I couldn’t tell if I was afraid of the skin thing cause the medicine made me or cause it was scary. Also my job, which is a little uncertain always had taken a turn for the worse — they wanted something slightly different than I was able to provide and they found somebody who could do what I was best at doing but better — but I don’t think that cause an employer might read this blog and I am very good at the thing I do. Very good. The best.
I started to draft a letter begging for help. First I thought I would send it to my smart friends. I read it over and the request for help was not smart. It was stupid. I thought I would send it then to my unselfish friends but I read it over and it was the most selfish thing on Earth.
I realized both my friends had been polite. When my smart friend had said “We smart people” when my unselfish friend said “We unselfish people” they were including me in “we” by courtesy. Where I belonged was somewhere else. I was one of the people not as smart as us to be lied to. I was one of those people not as good as us to be fought.
I took a bus down town trying to get my thoughts in order — maybe also my life. At the moment I fell asleep and missed my stop I was thinking “How can I convince all of you who are smarter and better than me to stop lying to me, stop fighting me, and help a brother out? Do I have to be so sweet and innocent and darling that they all take pity on me and love me and take care of me, all the smart ones and great ones and good ones and rich ones and my family and the lady who does the bills at the HMO?”
“Wake up you pathetic character.” said the bus driver finally. “If you’re too sweet they will eat you up. If you’re too bitter they will spit you out.”