a park downtownThe Park in Dowtown Cityville

I have terrible news. Just awful. I almost don't even want to write it down.

People still suck after all these years.

No, that's not very specific at all, is it? We are all well aware of how much people can suck. More on point, someone sucked last night, very specifically sucked, and now I can't shake the little hard marble of it out of my head.

Sometimes, especially when a person has had a few alcoholic beverages, a person opens their mouth and says something that comes out all wrong. Often, at that point, the person acknowledges that whatever they said truly sounded bad and was not meant to be insensitive/offensive. Sometimes, a person will even throw a hand over their mouth to express how they even shocked themselves with whatever they just said, and so we can assume that they truly did not intend to be rude.

This is not what happened last night.

Last night, a person that I know as slightly more than a passing acquaintance drank a few pints of beer and then opened his mouth and said something that I thought must have come out all wrong. I was sure that he must have been intending ironic social commentary. I was sure that the horrible words that had come seeping from between his wet lips were really something else. I wasn't sure what that something else was, so I said excuse me, but what was that you just said? in hopes that he would clear up my confusion.

Without any shame and without any attempt to disguise what he was saying by lowering the volume of his voice or leaning in toward me, he said a sentence about the war in Iraq that included the following ugly word: sandniggers.

How are you using that word? I asked. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.

What do you mean? he asked back.

I am just wondering if you are actually using that word in all seriousness to refer to other human beings, I said.

Yes, I am. Do you have a problem with that?

Yeah, I do. Please don't say it ever again. I don't know why I get all super polite sometimes when I am confronted with a jackass, but I do.

I think I have every right to call them sandniggers, he said. Those fuckers are killing our guys over there, so I don't have to be nice to them.

It's not like they invited the other countries' armies in, and then the armies offended them by forgetting to wipe their feet at the door, and now some people in Iraq are overreacting. I don't know that I would be playing so nice, either, confronted with so much violent foreign force marching down my street, I said, or at least something bordering this.

Then, I stopped talking to him and turned to someone else that I was fairly confident would not rain on my denial parade.

I hate having the memory of this in my head. I hate knowing that this person, of whom I was fond previously, is a hateful, narrow-minded, racist who adheres to an Us-and-Them world view drawn along political lines he is ignorant enough to have internalized.

I normally go about my days in a happy state of denial, imagining that other people have broader minds and bigger hearts than they do. I imagine that they are smarter than they are. I even imagine that they are nicer, too. So, when a jackass like this person I have been writing about says something like sandnigger and acts like it makes perfect and justifiable sense to use that word and talk hatefully about people whose lives are too far outside his experience and too far away for him to understandably apply a liberal application of derision over, breathe, I feel let down.

It may be silly to be so affected by one ugly idiot, but I am. I feel let down by a humanity that I would prefer to believe is much more good and far less bad than it continually proves itself to be.

I liked him. We were friends. We were friends even though he has a mullet. Now I just think that he's a jackass, an ignorant and hateful jackass.

And I have lost my sense of humour about his mullet now, too.


"Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life" by Rainer Maria Rilke