Welcome to America.
Here is your blank slate - don't lose it. If you haven't noticed, yet, it's blank. Really. We totally promise. But there's also a bar code on it with a whole lot of information, and we're going to scan it everywhere and (ha-ha) fun-fact: even if you do lose it we also tattooed that bar code onto your face.
In the interests of clarity, here are some things you should know...
If you are a woman, here is your job:
You are to look beautiful and young, and walk around so that men will see you, and tell you as much. "Beautiful" will be defined as follows: mostly-hairless, except on top. Mostly pore-less, especially on top. Emaciated-skinny wherever it's in vogue to be so, and bulbous or rounded where it's not -- regardless of the physiological practicality of this, given your particular bone-structure and musculature. Laugh loudly and without reserve, but not too loudly. Wear a solid half-inch of make-up, but look as though you're wearing none. Be smart when necessary, but always less smart than the most powerful man in the room. Throw money around like dead skin cells, never apologize for it, and if you ever DO grow old or put on a few extra pounds in the wrong places, have the decency to hide yourself away where no one has to look at you. You are, after all, primarily for looking at. Be slutty but coy, reserved but attainable, and resist the sexual advances of everyone right up until the very second when you throw off all your clothes and explode into meow-meow-psycho-jungle-cat sex-pot insanity. And if any of this makes you anxious, well, we've got pills for that. And shoes.
If you are a man, here is your job:
Break stuff. Grunt. Accumulate wealth and/or power, regardless of cost or consequence. Zip down your metaphorical fly and waggle whatever you find down there until everyone admires you. Be the most powerful man in the room, and smarter than the next-smartest woman. Suck fossilized black goo out of the deep earth and burn it til it's all gone, until you've used it all up on motion and noise and spectacle... until the earth is nothing but swiss-cheese emptiness where all the oil used to be, and we all fall down like in sinkhole-Florida, where they have real, live, face-eating zombies and a neurotic mouse with a painted-on smile who scares small children into believing that fossil-fueled flashing lights and bright colors are what happiness is. Be brutish but sensitive, thoughtful but unthinking. Believe wholeheartedly in the possibility that in some circumstances violence is the quickest path to peace and prosperity, and whatever you do, DON'T think about it. Remember that it's impossible to think your way out of anxiety. You have to buy your way out, and that's a fact, Jack. Jesus said so. Somewhere.
If you are a black man, here is your job:
Do not pass go. Just go to jail. It doesn't matter what you do, for the good of us all you're going to have to spend some time behind bars, because for whatever reason (don't think about it!) black men are naturally going to find themselves at odds with the natural order of things, which is of course for them to be caged. Don't worry, though. It's for your own good. You have to go into the concrete box so that you can come out shiny and new, stripped of your iniquity, your self-respect, and (perhaps most importantly) your voting rights. Because if we can't own you and make you pick cotton, we can at least own you and make you do crap jobs and strip away your options until all you have left is to break the laws we've ordained, here in America. Because justice in this country isn't blind, no, it's blind drunk.
If you are an illegal immigrant, here is your job:
Anything we say it is. Your job is to show up and muck out our septic tanks, pick our fruit, plant our trees, shingle our roofs, tie our rebar, work our dish-pits, and do anything else we don't feel like doing. Because you're brown, mostly, and brown is the color of fear. So be afraid, every day, that it won't be enough for you to form the backbone of our underclass, underpaid workforce. Be afraid, every day, that it won't be enough for you to pay taxes on everything you ever buy and to have very little access to basic human services and basic human dignity. Be afraid because we are well-armed and if you get out of line (or even if you don't), we have every right to treat you like the brown-class non-citizens you are, and send you back to the poverty you deserve for being born that ridiculous, non-white color. Also, shut up and stop being so uppity. Your political noise-making is downright un-American.
If you are the natural world, here is your job:
Die slowly. Then faster. Because we will strip you of your forests and we will pour poisons in your streams. We will make toxic chemical brews that we will turn into plastics that we will scatter over your surface, and then we will dig beneath that surface. We will tear off your surface and rape you of whatever we want from underneath, and when that is not enough we will dig down deeper and jackhammer another toxic chemical brew into your depths and frack the hell down into it and frack the hell up out of it until even our tap water lights up with the hellish fire we seem so determined to swim in. We will kill any animal we want to kill and we will take any "resource" we want to take and we will not apologize. And you will shut up and take it, and we will laugh at your pitiful attempts to remind us that we depend on you, and we will not once think of our grandchildren, who matter very little next to the possibility of the next-model iphone, and of having over-priced hot-bean-water on tap, and being able to burn fossilized black goo to fly over the seas on a whim to lounge on white sandy beaches and take day trips into the foothills, so we can feel better about our lives compared to the laughable struggles of the brown-and-black people in their little tin-roof sheds, who deserve it.
If you are a compassionate thinker, here is your job:
Shut up and die. Or at least live the hypocrite-life we've ordained for you, bemoaning the loss and the pain and the poison and the warmongering and the injustice... while at the same time burning up black fossil-goo on the black fossil-goo-based roads on your way to the bean-water factories where you can type away at your sweat-shop-produced computer on your ridiculous, masturbatory little blog, building yourself a career (and a steady stream of advertising revenue) by coagulating around yourself a bigger and bigger clot of like-minded thoughtful, weepy white people who (let's be honest) are really just hoping for the next chance to roll around half-naked on a beach in Fiji, just like everybody else.
Welcome to America.
The exits are everywhere and nowhere. Don't ever forget that this is the happiest place on earth, and that you are happy to be here. And smile, because the frowners will be beaten until morale improves.
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ADDITIONAL FUN FACT: I've been reading a lot of Vonnegut, lately.
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A FINAL NOTE: Writing isn't magic. It's hard work, and the greatest reward for that work is to share it with others. So if you enjoyed this little (ad-free) piece of my brain... please share the love on your social internets. And pick up a copy of my Short Story Collection, whilst you're at it. You can also get it as an ebook for less than a fancy cuppa hot bean-water, and it'll last waaay longer.
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