Steve (I don’t know the real name of this asshole and have no interest in knowing it) manages the parking lot for the “Basilica of St.Lawrence” Catholic Church behind our seniors apartment building. The Basilica is a genuine landmark and a very beautiful structure.
Steve is a true asshole. He totally fits the definition of “asshole”:
Online Dictionary: ass·hole
a person’s anus.
a stupid, irritating, or contemptible person.
Majo. An asshole:
- Thinks they are a much bigger shit than they actually are.
- Loves to throw their weight around.
- Identifies themself with a great and/or powerful organization, which they think has knighted them with great power and dignity – when actually they are a little peon who has a very limited purview.
- He treats (at least some) other people like shit. He’s an insecure, tiny little man who struts around his kingdom like he is, in fact, a king. He uses his cane like a sword, never using it to steady his walking, but swinging it around like a weapon – his sword or something else fucked up like that.He loves to give the “little people” orders – as if he has been knighted and empowered to shout orders like this. He has a very clear demarcation as to who is in and who is out: members of his parish – who are welcome in his domain: intruders – especially the detestable old people in the “home” across the street – are definitely “outsiders”, savages to be repelled. I doubt that any of this is in his job description.
- Although he would certainly deny this, he is constantly begging for some genuinely bad motherfucker to come along and remind him of the limits of his power, put him in his place – and, even if he never develops any real insight into or regrets for the nasty error of his ways – to cause him to maybe feel a little stress, a little constriction when he starts to behave like an asshole. The psychologists call this “aversive conditioning”. If the rat gets a little shock when he approaches cheese, he loses his interest in cheese.
- One potentially positive function of this kind of asshole is to act as a practice field for a bad motherfucker in training – for said motherfucker to practice on the little prick, to hone his aggressive skills, which then will be available for righting wrongs, protecting the weak, etc. By unintentionally surrendering himself to some turning of the tables, by receiving rather than dispensing abuse, he may be blessed with some lightening of his miserable karma – so that if he by chance never learns his lesson in this life, he may come back as a nicer person next time.
I am that developing bad motherfucker who is using this miserable bastard to help me develop my aggression skills – how to more cleverly and elegantly slice the perpetrator apart, to inflict no unnecessary long-term damage, and to have fun in the process and create merriment for onlookers, especially if they are members of the outgroup that the little dictator likes to oppress.
My brother and sister seniors in our building – at least those who have also vented to me about the humiliations they have experienced at Steve’s hands – will get real fun out of my stories of taking him down, will relax and let go of some stress, will vicariously (as if they had been there) feel pride in themselves and may walk a little taller.
Diana – who similarly hates Steve for how badly he has treated her when she dares to walk through his domain – will laugh very heartily at my stories of totally dominating Steve, of eating him for lunch, and even feel a little happy. She will remember the stories, especially when she has to be near Steve or even dares to once again walk through his kingdom.
Story 1. Our building parking lot is out beyond Steve’s domain.
It is a long ways around either side as we walk to our cars and most of us do dare to cross through Steve’s domain. When he is there – usually because there is a Mass or some other function at the church – we can see him out strutting around and we tighten up a little just at the sight of him. We know that he will never give us the warm greetings he gives to his parishioners, will never treat us well – will only give us eye contact when he grabs hold of any context to give us shit – like if we cross too close to the driveway.
When we pull up to the back of our building to drop off groceries or something, it is usually pretty hairy to back out – what with cars and pedestrians walking by. There is a ramp down from our alley to Steve’s lot, but we are definitely not allowed to pull forward into that lot – and the ramp is usually blocked with a rope tied across the top of it. But this particular day the rope was down and I was really happy to not have to back out, but to just be able to drive out through Steve’s lot.
Steve stopped me when I came by his stupid little house.
“What are you doing here?”
“Driving through your lot to the street.” (Notice the specific and intentional and very disciplined leaving out of “you stupid motherfucker”.)
“Don’t ever drive through here again.”
I did not swear, and actually spoke in a clear, calm, even understated tone that belied how totally I was dissing him. “You know, I’m not aware of any inclination to do what you say.”
Uttering that line was a beautiful moment, a pure joy. I had totally flummoxed him. He obviously was shocked at my understated lack of respect and he shut the fuck up – which was my clear purpose in saying what I said. “I’m learning the art of the least necessary violence. I didn’t need to say ‘What are you going to do about it, motherfucker?’ which I actually had said a couple of weeks earlier to some country asshole who thought he could push me around because my car door tapped his pickup truck. That was the most clearly I have ever threatened another man, but felt really risk-free because I was absolutely sure with the most threatening tone of voice I could totally back this asshole down. He fled to the cab of his truck, saying.
“I’m going to call the cops.”
“Because I said a bad word? I don’t think they come out for that.”
It had all been great fun: a wonderful learning experience – just to know that I actually have it in me to menace another man and back him down, when the situation really calls for that – and I may at some point be confronted by a situation that is much more serious than this one, and I am what stands between the perpetrator and the people he wants to harm.
Story 2. This afternoon my dog Panchita and I were walking from our parking spot across the street, back to our building.
I was hauling probably too many bags of heavy groceries, because I have come to really detest the little ritual of driving around the back of the building to the back entrance, dropping your groceries in a buggy inside the building – then backing out of the alley to the street (some anxious part of me really believes that someday I will flatten a pedestrian). Managing the sometimes very stubborn, sometimes errant dog is especially difficult when my hands are so full. So I definitely wanted to take the most direct path from my car to the building. The most direct path goes directly up Steve’s driveway. I was too tired and was carrying too much shit to veer to either side. And I don’t give a shit about Steve: if I have to tell him to go fuck himself, I will enjoy doing so.
“Don’t ever walk up this driveway.”
I think Panchita recognized Steve’s hostile tone and – surprise! – doesn’t have much use for him in general. She barked at him right on cue.
I never turned to look at Steve, just continued to walk straight ahead and warned him, in a fairly neutral tone,
“She’ll bite you.”
“I might bite you.”
I may have waited until I was out of earshot to start laughing – but maybe I actually didn’t wait that long. I felt totally happy and content.
Chalk up one for the team!