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Warning: well-deserved strong language ahead!
I have internalized every mean observation anyone has ever made about me.
Let me try to illustrate that a little more accurately: every shitty thing I’ve ever been told about myself follows me around like “Just Married” strings and tin cans on an old, rusty Buick.
Twice in my life I was called a coward. That always seemed a bit dubious to me because it’s a terrible thing to call a man. It brings into question societal expectations and male-ness. It’s meant to do nothing else but hurt, and one would have to have invested a mortgage’s worth of dough into therapy to say that it honestly doesn’t.
In fact, even with that under one’s belt, I’d have my doubts.
I’ve been called “self-absorbed” more than 200 times. This descriptor usually gets whipped out days before statuses start changing on Facebook. I used to take offense and argue when I was younger, but since middle age, I generally respond with, “You’re pretty sharp. How long did it take you to figure that out?”
I mean, when you are faced with a chance at dark humor, you have to jump on it. Life is short.
Then, of course, there’s “Fuckboy.” I have been called that unfortunate colloquialism a few dozen times and, I’ll try to be honest: I have no canned retort for it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt my feelings like “asshole” or “coward,” but it’s never felt good. It always sends me into a spiral of self-reflection.
“Am I really that?”
I can see where the accusation comes from. I have a bad reputation of falling in love, developing sexual relationships, and ending them in the course of a single New York season. During the first few days that I’m back to being single, I try to console myself with the fact that perhaps I was put on this earth simply to feel and create. I was never meant to chase crabgrass and clean gutters and—believe you me—this has not always been in my favor when I used to do my part to add to the bottom lines at OK Cupid and Match. This has less to do with bragging and more to do with self-actualization.
That type of consolation only lasts for a minute, though, because this is not the 1800s. During the Victorian Age, there was a good chance that your artistic output could get passed along for generations and maybe wake something up in a little girl 300 years into the future. But anyone who has been paying attention knows that there will not be a “300 years into the future.” At least not for humans.
That’s a different article for a different time, but suffice it to say, it’s a lame way to justify floating through so many people’s lives like a hollowed out ghost.
As I said, that is my “reputation.” Reputations, while they always possess a kernel of truth, are usually two-dimensional and unfair. In high school, I remember when I hooked up with a girl who had the worst reputation in the neighborhood. When all the pretending and hiding was stripped away, I found a soul inside her that was mostly misunderstood.
She had a homelife that was sometimes neglectful, sometimes unhealthy, but never nurturing. One autumn night, we missed the last bus from the mall and had to walk five miles. We told each other stories about our early childhoods, our dreams for when we got out of school, and how we imagined ourselves as adults. And even though we inevitably drifted apart, there was never a time when we would pass in the school hallway without looking at each other from a distance as if to ask, “Are you okay?”
People have feelings. And while it is easy to dismiss the people who hurt us or our friends as cheaters and sluts and fuckboys, there is always going to be so much more to the story. That is not to say that crap childhoods excuse people from nefarious and uncaring acts. I have never been the type of person to accept scandalous bullshit because of someone’s formative circumstances—most especially from myself. They do have to be considered, though.
Most of the time, when we are pointing a finger at another person, we are averting our eyes from our own reflections.
So like everyone who is reading this article, I am multidimensional. I am a musician. I am a writer. Sometimes I am a poet. And a blue collar worker. And yes, perhaps in many ways, I am a fuckboy.
But fuckboys have feelings, too.