Wednesday, July 6, 2011
She Better Steer Clear Of The Shops On Bleecker Street
I was hanging out with Lira the other day, and she told me about this t-shirt she saw. "It said, 'I wish my grass was Emo, then it would cut itself.'" I started laughing, and she gave me one of her trademark frosty stares. "That's funny?"
"And why is that funny?"
I actually struggled to come up with an explanation, and I wasn't sure if it was because sometimes it's difficult to sum up human behavior in way that Lira can understand, or if, when I thought about it, it actually wasn't funny at all. I tried telling her about some of the things I'd read about cutters, like how it's used to distract from emotional pain.
"Do you even remember what emotional pain is like?" she asked. "You haven't been dead that long, I know that void where your brain should be isn't much for retaining anything, but considuring what a mental whiner you were, I'd hoped you'd hold on to enough to see that there's no humor in someone dragging a razor across their arm. You really expect to be an angel without that?"
"Ok, let's back up for a second," I said. "Do you know what schadenfreude is?"
She put her hand on my head and gave me a gentle shake. "Did you actually find a way to kill brain cells that are already dead? I knew if someone could find a way, it would be you. I'm an archangel, you idiot, of course I know what that means. It's the malicious enjoyment of others' misfortune."
"And you also know how much I hated people, and for how long. Well, it's like, people either sympathize with the pain of others, or they take a certain satisfaction in it, as dispicable as that is. I'd always thought it was because people are such vile beings, but you also have to understand that it helps people deal with their own pain if they know that other people feel it too. When they're upset, and they walk around and see joy everywhere, it only angers them, because they feel more alone. Even if it's phony, because how can they tell? Knowing that others are screwed up makes people remember that other people are just like them, or at least it's a reminder that there's nothing really inherently wrong with them because pain is actually common."
"And that makes that stupid t-shirt funny?"
"Partly. But also there's a perception that that some overindulge in their own troubles for attention. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but it's gotten easier the longer I've been an angel."
Lira looked at me and smiled. "Sweetheart, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I knew all that. Like I said, I'm an archangel. I just wanted to see if you knew." She gave me a stern look as a way of saying she was serious and not just comedicaly saving face, but after the first time I spoke to her face to face, I never doubted her truthfulness anyway. "Your a good angel."
"Thanks," I said. "Sashial and I are going to the ball game tonight. You coming?" Her head dropped and I started to laugh. "Just kidding."