I have no idea. Time has become irrelevant except when my time crashes into someone else’s. The tardiness is my fault. One day they’ll revoke my timepiece.
Me? I deplore competition. I have hated competition since I was very young because, I assert, I was a fat child (that was before it was sassy, vogue and fattering – my modern form of flattering, as in “are these jeans fattering?”) and competition was synonymous with failure and embarrassment and yet another reminder that I was one of the periphery boys.
Although I joined seasonal teams through high school, I was never competitive, i.e. an athletic threat, to any opponent. I weathered all those losses because it was smarter to belong to and be a loser, than to be a loner and a loser. Loner losers were to high school what a duck that clangs is to a shooting gallery: irresistable to insecure men that accumulate trophies as proof of their asserted dominion.
Haven’t we witnessed too many examples of the tragic consequences when potent, tightly-wound, explosive or obstinate pack leaders torment the dissimilar, solitary and contradictory by exhaustive humiliation, unyielding fear, and physical harassment to an exasperated degree of hatred and revenge expressed externally as murder or the lowest depths of hopelessness that the victim’s acrimony and contempt is so great and that their thirst for retribution will never be quenched, so they turn inward to find their self-inflicted exoneration and release from misery. When did we, as a nation, agree that in order to succeed we’ve got to hit the disenfranchised with such a degree of “shock and awe” that they’ll eventually submit to extinction? When did we, as a nation, adopt bullying as our de facto reaction to threats and danger? It’s the exact moment that the practice of instilling fear into the minds of the voting public by egregious negative attack campaigning accusing the opposing party or candidate of misfortunes, errors in judgement, or personal infractions so dubious or diabolical, that if the opponent won the election America would resemble the wasteland once known as Cherynobl.
When bullying is permitted, incited, or rewarded as a rite of passage or a strategy in a competition, it reinforces a recent and troubling change in our idea of sportsmanship. Competition used to be the identification of “winner” as one that was better at <whatever> than his/her opponent(s) and was able to prove his/her superiority by way of fair, impartial, and equal sportsmanship. Competition has become the identification of “winner” as one that was better at pointing out weaknesses, instilling doubt through repetitive and escalating degrees of fear, taking advantage of the recent breakdown in civility and propriety by deliberate and calculated unearthing, followed by wanton pillaging and inference, leading up to the zenith: a quiet, little leak to cable news outlets which, within a few pre-dawn hours hits all the major wires and airs as the lead story on every morning news program and goes viral in time for most voters coffee break.
Finally, after four years, anguish (which filled the cavity of my character caused by shame) has slowly been reduced by the evaporation of time, to a degree of forgiveness and pieces of understanding of how the cataclysmic events of late June, 2008 had been roaring near the surface many times prior, and quietly patient as often. Like Pompeii, can they really claim themselves victims when they built their lives atop a volcano?
I always knew I was different and always reasoned that it was due to eccentricity and a helping of creativity.
In late June, 2008 my predictably unique life, one which resembles the repetitive lane crossover of Olympic speed skaters was defined. It wasn’t what it said that crushed me, but what it described, and how it behaved, and its odds of happiness and contributions to society and successful relationships and wealth. The hope I’d safely tucked away for this exact day became one more devastating example of my unimaginable ideas dissolving into folly. I knew that day that my pardon from a life-sentence of roller coasters wouldn’t arrive. And the cruelest understanding that I, like Pinocchio, would always be a puppet, out of my own control, and never, ever be “just a normal boy.”