A friend visited me over the weekend, en route from D.C. to Leeds — via New York, Chicago, New York, Chicago and Kansas City. Long story, one that's not my business to tell.But I have a story. On our second night together, we had some drinks. More than I'm used to and far less than he is. We came home and did what any drunk twenty-somethings would do: watch YouTube videos. This one in particular. To those of you in the know: Leave me alone. The fact that I saw this video within the same year it originally aired is a pretty big deal for me. To the uninitiated: It's a Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update" sketch featuring a fictitious blogger for a site called BitchPleeze.com: a pathetic, straw-gnawing social retard who has nothing better to do than write awful things about celebrities and other people she doesn't know. And it's goddamn hilarious. Both in that "funny 'cause it's true" way and in that "God, it's weird when SNL is funny" way. Best moment: "Taraji P. Henson? Is that a real name? …………Or a blood disease?" (Side note: Woof. There's a real blog called "Bitch, Please" whose author was none too pleased that a famous TV show led thousands of readers to her blog. "They getting me more readers? Those assholes! I'm far too intelligent for the hayseeds that watch late-night television. They're at home, baked out of their minds and replaying 'I'm on a Boat' for the 47th time while I'm out at some rockin' hipster bar in…Cincinnati. Did I mention I use complete sentences?" Seriously, if this blog ever gets more than six readers and I turn into an asshole — oh God, or if I'm already an asshole — come to Chicago and punch me.)
Anyway. Isn't this post turning into exactly what I was hoping to address? Jesus. How it's possible for a hulking woman like me to be such a lightweight, I'm not sure, but I woke up with a splitting headache the next day, accompanied by this heightened awareness of all the shit I talk on other people. And how ugly a habit that is. We all judge people; I get that. Hip urban youth are possibly the most guilty of this: After all, few people (especially those suburbanites, ugghhhh!) are quite as cool as we are. She writes, tongue lodged firmly in cheek, Beck's "Loser" blaring from the speakers of my MacBook. When I got on the bus, that great equalizing people-mover, to the beach last weekend, I barely squeezed past then quietly seethed at a morbidly obese woman standing at the front of the bus. Blocking everyone's entry to the bus and adding fuel to the fire with a massive, rolling hunk of plastic that I assume contained her child. Or snacks. But it wasn't her lack of courtesy and seeming obliviousness to the existence of any world beyond the tip of her nose that got to me. There are people like that on every bus, and I made it past her unscathed, lived to see the beach and even enjoyed myself. It was her terrible haircut, her early-'90s Garfield T-shirt and her…well, it was all surface. During my work-related (I swear!) journey to Navy Pier this week, I wrote a snarky tweet about tourists in Crocs. I regularly rant about the peculiar wardrobe preferences of the patrons and students of the music school where I met the Knight in Shining Camry. (I just can't get behind ankle-length denim skirts.) People who listen to Creed? Women with backpacks for purses? Hipsters? That kid in the sequined hat on Illinois Street earlier? (Parents: Don't let your children become the object of ridicule so early in life. Kids are terrible enough without you just handing them fodder for more cruelty.)
Kids are major assholes, by the way. Really. Classmates teased me all through school about anything they could get their hands on: my glasses, my height, my friends. In typical eighth-grade fashion, I dated a guy for about three hours on a Friday night until I realized a) I wasn't into it and 2) (much later) he should probably be gay, and by the time I got to school on Monday, the whole school was buzzing about what a "prude" I was. Umm. Really? Some unpopular kids put on trench coats and kill people. Some just make fun of everyone.
My examples are obviously the tip of a very large, very judgmental, very cold iceberg. So much of what I think will, thankfully, never leave my lips. Putting even this in writing makes me feel like a petty, awful human. I don't throw what I think in anyone's face — a victimless crime? — but I still feel like I'm polluting the world. And I'm not alone. My iceberg is a drink-size cube compared to some people's snark and vitriol. School bullies (see also: the O'Doyles, Scut Farkus, Cordelia Chase) have grown up. Now we're all assholes. The Internet — blogs, e-mails, instant messages, all these silent modes of communication — has made snark and bitchy commentary the norm. We hide behind our screens and say nasty things about people. About strangers. Ugh.
Here's the thing about those people on Navy Pier, the ones I was snickering about to no one but myself: They were together, and they seemed happy. Playing in front of the fun-house mirrors, all Croc'd out and eating their overpriced Häagen-Dazs as they waited for their rented Segways to be ready — I scowled at them, and they just kept smiling. An obliviousness to the rest of the world that I can't feel mad about. This Mean Girl could stand to obsess a little less about what's wrong with them and think more about little ways I could emulate them. Because really. Who's laughing now?