I, Narcissist

I wrote this piece for Takimag a while back. It’s about how narcissism is underrated or something:

 

Little Selfies on Hogwash Mountain

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Empathy Test

Holden: You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of the sudden-
Leon: Is this the test now?
Holden: Yes. You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down-
Leon: What one?
Holden: What?
Leon: What desert?
Holden: It doesn’t make any difference what desert, it’s completely hypothetical.
Leon: But how come I’d be there?
Holden: Maybe you’re fed up, maybe you want to be by yourself, who knows? You look down and you see a tortoise, Leon, it’s crawling towards you-
Leon: Tortoise, what’s that?
Holden: Know what a turtle is?
Leon: Of course.
Holden: Same thing.
Leon: I’ve never seen a turtle — But I understand what you mean.
Holden: You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back Leon.
Leon: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden, or do they write them down for you?
Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can’t, not without your help, but you’re not helping.
Leon: What do you mean I’m not helping?
Holden: I mean, you’re not helping. Why is that Leon? — They’re just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they’re written down for me. It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response. —

-Blade Runner

As I was lying in the bathtub reading an old astrology book, I noticed one of those small, harmless beetles crawling up the wall near the faucet… you know, the kind you often find on the carpet, and you think it might be a roach but upon closer inspection it’s too slow and bulky. Anyway, some water droplets had splashed around that area of the shower, and as a result the beetle slipped and landed on his back, his legs motioning helplessly in the air. I watched him for a few moments knowing he would not be able to turn over on his own and would surely die without my assistance. Being a person with narcissistic tendencies, I have been known to lack empathy in situations far more emotionally provocative than this, but not the guilt that goes along with being conscious of one’s lacking of said characteristic. Not wanting to touch a bug, I grabbed my toenail clippers and carefully maneuvered the handle in a way that gently flipped him back on his feet. He immediately resumed his trek up the wall and….. continued to fall repeatedly, landing on his back again several times. In each instance I helped him turn over right side up, but once I used a bit too much force and almost crushed the poor guy. All I could think was that this whole ordeal was probably futile, as soon I would be taking a full blown shower with the resulting blast of water likely to wipe him out like the lost city of Atlantis. Fast forward a few thousand years and twenty minutes later, he somehow emerged from the shower completely unscathed. I noticed today, that he was gone. Wherever that little beetle was headed, I hope he got there all right.

tennis balls and mirror mazes

How’s the weather, whether or not we’re together,
Touch me but don’t let me down.
Maybe I’m just hanging around, with my head up, upside down..
it’s a pity, I can’t seem to find someone who’s as…
pretty and lovely as you

There needs to be a manual for how to deal with emotionally healthy girls. I seriously haven’t a clue. I used to think these were mere mythological creatures, somewhere in the realm of centaurs, nymphs or even The Kraken…essentially fantasy, dreamed up beasts that may or may not have existed long ago in far off lands but that which I would surely never see in my lifetime. However, perhaps emotionally healthy girls are more commonplace than I thought. I’ve come to realize that I probably just don’t attract them as they are more likely to be drawn to normal or otherwise ordinary dudes. Makes sense right? I certainly have never dated a completely emotionally healthy girl. In the past I would even have been thrilled to know some girl merely had an eating disorder or something, and that that was the extent of her core issues she was(and I soon would be) dealing with.

All of which begs the question..what in the world does one do with a pleasant, low maintenance, fully functional girl, mostly of sound mind? One who isn’t too clingy, who doesn’t blow off her friends to hang out with you? who doesn’t storm out the moment you say the wrong thing? Setting aside the totally freaking obvious answer of hang on for dear life and don’t let her get away!…one must face the more practical matter of just how on Earth to proceed with such a girl. Like I said, I haven’t the foggiest idea. My only instinct is that of a mirror. Whatever likable qualities she sees in me, I’m inclined to reflect those back to her. The image of herself she offers up to me, I accept it and in turn reflect that back to her. Whatever I manage to emanate from myself in her direction I then look upon her to reflect back toward me.


“I need you so, oh, oh, oh, oh
and if you take it easy I’m still teethin'”

In praise of the wishy-washy girl

It’s getting to be that time of the year in Phoenix when one’s ass is in almost a perpetual state of sweatiness. There’s really not much you can do about it either. Here I am in my underwear typing this in the comfort of my climate controlled habitat of a room…and still sweating my tail off with nothing to do but wait it out, which reminds me….

For some reason in the spring of 2002 I became obsessed with the Vietnam War, reading all sorts of dusty, out of print memoirs and accounts of mostly forgotten figures from that era. The best of these was probably Louis Fanning’s “Betrayal in Vietnam” which hardcover copies are still out there and available on Amazon starting at just 36 cents. One of my favorite documentaries on the Vietnam War was “The Ten Thousand Day War,” which came out in 1980 and incidentally was made by Peter Arnett, who later became a famous and controversial correspondent in both gulf wars. The bias in “The 10,000 Day War” is somewhat negated by the fact that the film features many interviews with former leaders, officials, and soldiers who are given ample time to state their take on events that transpired. The finest of these are the ones with former South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu and former Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky. Though I haven’t seen this in like 8 years, I recall one of our ally, Nguyen Cao Ky’s statements as being significant:

“Americans are a very impatient people. For Vietnamese people, time means nothing to them. They’ll just outwait you. I told President Johnson that the Americans should just go and win the war quickly.”

Fast forward to the present, and what in the world does the Vietnam War have to do with wishy-washy girls? Well, a lot actually if you think about it, but laying out those abstract connections in detail is not the purpose of this entry so just use your imagination for now.

I recently had a discussion with some girls who boasted about knowing exactly what they wanted in a guy, and they could know flat out whether they were interested or not. They made a point to distinguish themselves from those wishy-washy girls that can never make up their mind about a guy, and are forever going back and forth on what they want.

You can imagine their reaction when I told them that I actually preferred such eternally indecisive girls. The reason being is that if a girl knows exactly what she wants, and it’s not you…well then if you like her you’re simply out of luck. Her mind is already made up before giving you a chance to win her over and convince her that in fact she does want you, she just didn’t know it yet. I don’t want someone whose mind is already made up about what they want in someone before they even meet me. I know that i’m probably too idiosyncratic to fit into whatever carefully crafted image of the perfect guy they’ve concocted. At least with a wishy-washy girl I can make use of my skills in advertising and marketing to sell her a useless product she doesn’t need(…me!) And yes, I realize there’s a major downside:


“Cecelia, you’re breaking my heart. You’re shaking my confidence daily.”

Of course it can be exhausting to have a girl adore you one day while knowing she may not be interested in you the next.

“I got up to wash my face, when I come back to bed someone’s taken my place”

But so what? If you’re cleverly persuasive, she may like you even more the day after that.

“Jubilation, she loves me again! I fall on the floor and I’m laughing.”

At least if she craps out on you it will always be possible to win her back in the future. As a bonus this can also help quell one’s narcissistic fear of engulfment, since you know this isn’t an all or nothing deal and you will have plenty of opportunities for a way out, in order to maintain your sense of self. It’s also a whole-lotta fun thinking of ways to try to win someone back, especially if you know you’re not just going up against a brick wall, but rather a Belgian waffle.

You can buy them shoes, necklaces, write them elaborate text message love letters that borderline on creepy, send them flowers, set jealousy traps(sucks when they do that back to you though,) buy yourself a new wardrobe so they can see how attractive you can make yourself for brief periods of time, etc.

We’ve all done it, like in that episode of The Wonder Years where Kevin Arnold goes to that party where Winnie Cooper is there with her new boyfriend, and Kevin tries to make her jealous by hanging out with Madeline(who incidentally was not wishy washy in the least but still hotter than Winnie anyway) and being the life of the party, strutting his stuff on the wall to wall carpet dance floor and waving his jacket in the air(it ends up not working and he comes off like even more of a jerk.)

It’s never enough to just win a girl over anyway…or “get the girl.” As F Scott Fitzgerald somberly observed in “This Side of Paradise,” beautiful debutantes need to be won over again every time you see them. It would be a pity if simply failing to win them over just one of the times, would trigger a swift decisive judgment that would disqualify you for all time. Rather I’d prefer a stalemate see-saw battle,a war of attrition, where patience and persistence could eventually carry the day, even if just for that day.

The title of this entry was a variant of the book title “In Praise of the Stepmother” which I have to say deals with entirely different subject matter…

cockpit of despair

Flight From The Senses by Brandon Adamson

Putting on the invisible disguise
in an effort to evade untimely demise
it’s off to navigate the maze of the skies
without a wingman, minus a stewardess,
and the crash lessons of the last
as the only guide,
such is the flight experience on the airline of the times.
turbulence from the moment you lift off the ground
from the up up uppity ups to the dipstick dippity downs-
could someone please turn this plane around?
and head back toward those now distant,
familiar sounds,
but you fear that they no longer exist.
Consulting once again the trusty oracle,
peering into your past, going back even one minute!
always reveals an inexperienced pilot..
talking to yourself on the captain’s radio
from the cockpit of despair “away we go!”
with the empty air of being alone,
the fare you pay to fly on your own.