Lena and I climbed out of the car in the restaurant parking lot.

“Take a look at this.” I indicated the car parked across two spaces right next to us. “Think there’s enough room here for his car and his dick?”

“Probably not.” Lena tarried a bit, looking at the car. “I really want to key it.”

“Too close to the front of the restaurant.” I pulled out my phone. “But I can probably find a good place to post it online. Maybe someone else’ll scratch a giant groove into the door.”

“I like it.” Lena put her hands on her hips and laughed. “Lots more legal, but you still get to be an asshole. Well done.”

This is the car. We all know it was the restaurant manager who was dropping in to swipe some money out of the register so he could score some cocaine.

Now of course I would never actually post a picture like that online, but it did get me thinking. I have a developed a reputation in some circles as being intractable on certain issues, and occasional people have even described me as an asshole.

But am I? Are you? What does that even mean?

Usually, we consider an asshole as someone who thinks mostly of themselves, with little compassion for others, and who acts according to that nature. A sort of low-grade narcissist who, even if not actually harmful, is at the least odious and unpleasant to be around. This is a mixed bag for me as far as diagnostic tools go. People continue to invite me to things which indicates I am not unpleasant and leans non-asshole, but I usually don’t go because I don’t wanna which muddies the results some.

I sued the city and held up a development for seven years over an action I didn’t really care about (asshole), but I did it because my entire neighborhood was dead set against it, and I was best positioned to carry the banner for them (non-asshole).

I always say thanks whenever I talk to Alexa, whether she is actually helpful or not. Alexa not being human, I can’t really say whether this helps my case.

Is assholeness a matter of perspective? Is the only difference between being a jackass and a saint the ability to carefully explain your actions so you don’t seem like a fucknut?


So where does that leave the rest of us? Are we assholes because we got our favorite flavor of ice cream for ourselves at the grocery store and a bag of frozen spinach for our spouses? Or maybe it’s because we create a list of every TV program our wife hates during her Birthday Month (while she’s picking all the shows), just so we can make her pay for every episode of Little House on the Prairie she made us watch.

Now of course I would never actually do any of those extremely specific things to someone I loved, and just remember that if you hear otherwise Lena is a goddamn liar. But there’s a point.

Every time I take the laundry out of the dryer, I put all the static balls together so none of them will be lonely in the dark. (I started writing this caption because I thought it made me look compassionate. Obsessive can be compassionate, right?)

Sometimes what looks like being an asshole is just someone taking care of themselves so they can go out and face another day. Do they really think mostly for themselves, or did you just happen to catch them on that one day in a hundred when they were trying not to drown in everyone else’s problems? Maybe five people have already shit on their shoe that morning and you drew the short straw of being there for the explosion when you did it.

Don’t shit on people’s shoes. It makes you look like an asshole.

Anyway, that’s the rationale I’m running with. I’m a wonderful person who only very often seems like an asshole because I was caring for my own well-being so that I might better serve my fellow man. The fact that I so successfully write assholes in my books is because… I… uh…

Fuck off.

Jesus, standing on the river that flows close to my house. Now Jesus wouldn’t appear
just to have a picture taken for some asshole’s newsletter, would he?
(Doubters, find me any passage in the Bible that says Jesus will never show himself in the form of a muscovy duck. I didn’t THINK so.)


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