Ok, let’s start with the assumption that no one’s born an asshole. I don’t give credence to the ‘bad seed’ theory. So, something happens in their lives to make them one, some vitamin/hormonal deficiency causes lapses in normal, acceptable behavior. Or, possibly, some random asshole acts are unintentional, brought about maybe, let’s say, by lack of sensitivity to others. (I will use myself as an example of this in next week’s “Angel.’) We are all guilty of these…although some more than others, I’d venture. Females are certainly capable of assholes moves, as well…occasionally more subtle, maybe? The first Asshole, last time, a guy, was way over the line: either a major asshole or he had a huge lapse. What he did was obviously intentional. We probably run into more asshole instances on the road due to the distance (literally and figuratively) between perpetrator and victim. So this next asshole is not only up and personal but prolonged:
I had decided to take my son, Eric, along on a backpacking trip to Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. A fellow I had gone on several other backpacking, climbing, wild river canoe and white water kayaking trips with was to come along. Other than being a bit persnickety, he was fine. Unfortunately he brought along a companion, probably because the guy volunteered to drive us in his new VW van.
First night we drove to Glacier Nat’l Park and stopped late to camp for the night. We all took different chores, mine, since I’ve built a thousand campfires and heated with wood for several years, was relegated the fire. After I got the kindling and some smaller branches roaring, I added some good size logs, good for the night. When Asshole looks at the fire, in a gasp of critical exasperation, he throws a log off and in a huff rearranges the fire. Eric and I laugh. My friend tells me the apparent asshole is a scout leader, and I immediately have sympathy for boy scouts. I even, to hopefully ward off a similar future display, believing in good communication, said I hoped that didn’t indicate what the trip was going to be like. A telling silence followed, with Eric nodding his head predictively, as it was, indeed indicative.
The thing that ended up upsetting me the most was the way Asshole treated my kid, who was 15 at the time: Eric became his errand boy, his slave, bossing him around. I didn’t even say anything, because if you know Eric, this was the kiss of death for Asshole. Initially, if Eric had to fill the coffee pot, for example, with water, Asshole either disdainfully dumped some out or sent him back for more. Of course from then on Eric started to subtly torment the man, driving him to hysterics frequently. Eric was and still is a master at (generally good- natured) goading.
Just a couple other telling examples: Asshole bitched the entire first leg in the Banff mountains about having to carry the heaviest pack because, being the proclaimed cook, was carrying the kitchen. So, on the second leg of the journey, up in Jasper, as we were heading out at the trailhead, a group was coming out. I noticed, right in the middle of another whine, that the group had a scale. So, naturally I insisted, against Assholes “no,no, that’s OK,” that we weigh our packs. You guessed it, his was the lightest. So pissed off and, I imagine, embarrassed, he takes off ahead of us. We had decided to stop at a ridge overlooking Amethyst Lake and if not too late head down to the campsite at the lake. We didn’t come upon Asshole anywhere along the trail, which had been fine with Eric and me. But when we got to the ridge there was no sign of Asshole. We were surprised as it was dark, we were beat, and the mosquitos were coming out strong. I couldn’t imagine Asshole, even in a shamed rage, heading down to the lake this late. It’s a good 2 hours down. So, we head down to the lake. When we get there…no asshole. Eric and I say F-it, but my friend convinces us we have to head back up…we agree only because Asshole has the food. So now, dead tired after a 10 hour hike in the most rugged mountains in the world, eaten alive by a variety of insects, in the dark we head back up the trail. When we get back up, no Asshole. At this point Eric and I are ready to eat berries for dinner, and don’t care if Asshole has provided dinner for a grizzly…probably making a lot of boy scouts’ day. Eric and I set up camp, I hate to say not caring what happened to Asshole. But my friend heads out and an hour later comes dragging in carrying Asshole’s pack! Then Asshole has the audacity to start screaming at us for walking right past him while he was napping…total bullshit. I get in his face and tell him to shut the F up, or I was going to beat the shit out of him, Eric asking him if he wanted Eric to carry his pack as well as his own tomorrow.
Last example. It’s almost unbelievable:
We’re on the way home. We’re sharing driving responsibilities, of course. When my friend is done with the first shift, to sleep he lays on the bed Asshole had made on the 3rd seat. He shuts the curtain Asshole had arranged, and Asshole starts screaming: how can he see with the curtain shut! So, my friend opens it, and that is that…UNTIL Asshole takes his turn to knap…and he shuts the f-ing curtain!! Eric and I crack up at the absurdity. We both scream: “how can I see with the curtain closed?” By this time I was sharing in Eric’s tormenting of one royal asshole. Who needs assholes in their life? We never saw the guy, again.
A side note. You may think it was the trip from hell, but an interesting thing happened: my son and I totally bonded, as friends, as adults.
Now, in figuring out what made him an asshole, I’m tempted to go back to how he was raised. You think? Could he do nothing right or good enough for his father, his mother, both? Like ‘cats in the cradle and silver spoon?’ And maybe grandpa was the same to Asshole’s father? Maybe this despicable trait goes all the way back to the beginning? That’s what I’m going with. What do you think? I am opening up a 'Comment Box" after the blog. Down the road I plan on eliciting the best of readers' stories of their "Angel and Asshole' experiences. For now I'd be very interested to get your take on what "short circuited' causing the act of 'assholism', and what inspired' the 'angel' acts of human kindness.
As I mentioned last time, it would be interesting to send these off to some professionals. I think I could persuade a couple of psychiatrist friends of mine to respond, or, as I also mentioned…maybe a college class.