A friend once said to me that everyone we meet in life teaches us a lesson, and whether it’s painless or painful, it’s important. They stole that from someone else, I’m sure, but it does seem to hold water. You can learn a lot, good and bad, from those you choose to spend your time with. Unfortunately, there are certain types of people you can never seem to escape from, and the lessons they offer are generally in patience or the silent planning of murder. I won’t tell you to avoid these people, because you can’t. I will say prepare. Prepare for them, for they are legion.
#4. The Indignant Liar
I think nearly everyone lies. Someone could say they don’t, but they may be lying. How would we ever know? Suffice it to say that most people tend to lie. Not big, crazy, “I’m the president and I invented fellatio” lies, but smaller, “Sorry, I can’t help you move this weekend because I already have plans” lies. And I think, as a people, most of us are cool with those little lies. They’re bits of deceptive grace. Allow me to spare you the truth of the fact I can’t stand moving and don’t want to touch your yellowed and decayed mattress by simply claiming I am otherwise engaged.
Lying works on a scale, of course. The small lies we tell to spare feelings and to expedite situations are mostly harmless and mundane. Somewhere further down the line are lies like “Of course I paid the electricity bill” as you sit in the dark and try to ponder what could have gone wrong. And it’s in this neighborhood, this singles mixer of the untruthful and untrustworthy, that you’ll find the worst liar in the world: the Indignant Liar. For even a liar who claims to have traveled to Mars and impregnated vast numbers of supermodels and pop stars while he was there is not quite as hard to deal with as the liar who says, “I didn’t eat the last cookie,” with a fearsome, defensive rage and accusing glare that translates to “How dare you accuse me of such devilry,” even as chocolaty crumbs tumble from his lying fucking lips.
Yes, the Indignant Liar is the liar who backs his lies up with attitude designed to make you feel like shit for calling out the lie. You’re the fuckstick here, not him. You’re the asshole who dares cast such aspersions, not him. And if he’s really good, he’ll actually make you second-guess yourself. And if he’s really bad, he’ll enrage you because you will have caught him red-handed and still — still! — he’ll indignantly deny the entire debacle and offer the alternate suggestion that maybe you’re stupid.
The Indignant Liar is literally the worst human on Earth. Donald Trump has proven himself to be one of these over and over again, a man caught in lies who never admits wrong, merely offering stupid alternate theories. I never pretended to be my own PR guy! I never accepted support from racists! I don’ t suck souls from the asses of the elderly!
#3. The Skilled Ignoramus
One of the best feelings in the world is when you need a lawyer and your best friend from high school is, in fact, a highly regarded lawyer working at a massive, big-money firm. Fuck yeah, you just scored free legal advice. Or maybe your toilet exploded and your cousin is a plumber. Free shit removal! It’s pretty badass to realize you know a skilled individual when you need one. But this comes with a terrible caveat, a metaphysical golden statue that your inner Indiana Jones must deftly maneuver off of the platform before giant balls hit you in the face. Your skilled friend may, in fact, be a Skilled Ignoramus.
The Skilled Ignoramus knows one thing and only one thing. That’s why you need them or may find yourself dealing with them. You will soon learn that they have traded all the excess real estate in their brain for knowledge of whatever their one area of expertise is. This is dangerous for any number of reasons. First and foremost, they have nothing to share of any interest beyond their one area of expertise, and you can only listen to a roofer talk about roofing for so long before you want to throw him off one. The other issues is that, nine times out of 10, they don’t realize they’re dipshits in pretty much very other arena of life, and that makes them highly dangerous.
I had an art teacher in high school, and in retrospect she clearly had issues with alcohol abuse, but at the time she was just the drunken idiot art teacher. And she was as dense as fog. She’d try to teach art history but get dates vastly wrong, and names, and even art styles and influences. She tried explaining art in Ancient Egypt once to the class by insisting it had been very much influenced by the Italian Renaissance, which struck me as so abominably stupid I may have audibly snorted and said something along the lines of, “Are you shitting me?” She could freehand draw a circle like some kind of robot circle-drawer, mind you, but dammit if she had no clue about anything else in life.
The Skilled Ignoramus hates being wrong, and your derisive snorts and claims of being shitted will go over poorly. Remember this. Remember it and, when hunting for a skilled individual, try to find someone who knows at least two things to minimize the chances you’ll end up with someone who passed only this one class in college because they were too drunk to do any others.
#2. The Expert Lifer
The Expert Lifer is the flip-side of the Skilled Ignoramus. The Expert Lifer thinks they do everything well and in fact probably do nothing well. However, whatever it is you’re doing, they have already done and will let you know either how you’re doing it wrong or how they would do it better. This is frustrating when it’s an acquaintance, but if that were the case you’d probably leave them by the side of the road selling oranges and go back to your life. No, the sad truth is this person is not an acquaintance. Inevitably they will either be related to you or work in such close proximity that you simply can’t escape them.
The Expert Lifer is tolerable when you have no real ties to them. An asshole co-worker explaining why you’re doing your job wrong is easy to fix with a few shots of the Irish in your coffee and a daydream that turns them into an affable, talking baboon. The family expert is another sack of turds and one you can’t so easily ignore. These are the people who keep your spirits down from around the time you learn to master language right up until their funeral. The people who let you know your choice of major isn’t going to lead to a good job and that by your age they had already gotten married, had a career, and one time punched out Mike Tyson in a bar fight because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The worst person in the world to be an expert lifer is your mother or father. I pity all of those who were burdened with this growing up, for it is a soul-crushing exercise in deciding when and where to lose your mind and how loud the volume should be when it happens. There’s no greater disappointment for a kid than to come home with your first A on a science test or some such and be met with something like, “That’s good. I used to get straight A’s in every subject.” And then you make a completely unreadable face and say, “Hey, bully for you, have you considered shoving your head up your ass today?”
For added spice, Lifers can and will work together. Say you’re lucky enough to have two parents or some siblings who fall into this category so the first one can point out how they achieved whatever your achievement is first, and faster, and better, and then the second can go in for the deathblow. This is like the scene in a zombie movie when someone gets hold of the jejunum and you get to see a few meters of guts pulled out and chewed on. In context it’s when, proud of your ninth-grade science achievement, the other Expert Lifer asks you some kind of master’s level physics question that you can’t answer so they can smugly stare at you and your ineptitude as the zombies chew through your colon.
#1. The Terminal Sad Sack
I need to establish from the get-go that I’m not talking about depression here. I understand depression and the very dark places such a condition can take people. I’m not going to make fun of that. I’m going to make fun of something much more insidious, because it’s not an uncontrollable condition that you don’t want to endure. Not a true depression at all but some kind of bummer zone that the entitled muck about in when they can’t have their way, like a spoiled child who has learned to make their tantrums long-simmering bullshit pantomimes.
I once dated a girl who probably had a few warning signs ahead of time that I should have taken note of. Things like a penchant for Hello Kitty despite being an adult, an all-pink room, a curious abundance of stuffed animals in said room, and the fact she still lived with her parents in her mid 20s. It wasn’t until the day I saw her older sister, a woman who taught math at a local grade school, accidentally get her finger caught in the screen door that I discovered I was in the Twilight Zone.
This woman, in the latter half of her 20s, stood in the doorway after getting her finger scratched on an errant piece of bent screen and held her hand out in front of herself, balled into a fist, save for the single scratched finger which pointed outward at nothing. And she screeched. The screech of a child on an airplane when you just want to get some sleep, or the kind of dread caterwauling when a toddler has left its favorite blankie in the car. Face all scrunched and red, cheeks puffed like someone with the mumps, eyes screwed tight as the tears plopped free, she cried wordlessly and loudly. This adult woman, a teacher, a real human being. Finger held out to no one in the desperate hope someone, anyone could make her boo-boo better. I nearly shat and vomited at the same time. And no one else present was even remotely surprised. Not her sister (whom I was dating), not her husband, and not her mother or father. Her mother just pulled a Band-Aid from her purse and put it on her adult daughter’s scratched finger as though this shit happened every Sunday. The tears stopped immediately, and we continued like nothing happened.
Guess what that fucking Band-Aid looked like.
Now, my girlfriend never cried like a baby with a skinned knee, but she got weird, and she did cry. Boy did she ever. Whenever we were faced with more than two straight hours with anyone from my family, she’d cry. Holidays and that sort of thing, she’d just stay in our room instead of socializing, because she “couldn’t handle” my family. So instead of being a normal human, she opted to be a weepy lump of jelly, just quivering and stinking up the joint.
This routine repeated itself whenever we were confronted with literally anything that wasn’t her idea, eventually. Hang out with my friends, go see a movie I wanted to see, try a restaurant I liked the sound of. All of that led to lonesome weeping. The last straw was the day I didn’t have enough change on me to buy a large Orange Julius instead of a medium Orange Julius and she threw the medium on the ground and stomped away.
Some people aren’t meant to be happy, and it’s because they’re pieces of shit. This is a hard-learned lesson for many of us, but you’ll be happier in the long run once you figure it out. Pieces of shit can’t be happy, you see, because they’re always going to be shit.
For those curious: No, I didn’t follow her back home. I walked to a friend’s house and spent about six hours playing PlayStation with my phone turned off. Then we had some beers and watched a horror movie, and sometime that night I went home and she wasn’t there. Days later I just deleted my messages without listening to them, and by the end of the week when I came to visit her with a tray full of four medium Orange Juliuses, even she got the idea that I was done. She didn’t cry, but she swore a lot. I could only finish two of the Juliuses.