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Driving on the Palisades Parkway out of the city, Joe looked across the river and felt a rush of warm tenderness for humanity in general. “People aren’t that bad, damn it.” Tears welled up in his eyes. Caught up in his own sentiment, he riffed on it, and fantasized that he was telling someone off: “America’s not that bad after all, huh wise guy?” He imagined this person pulling a gun on him, and he would intercept the gun like in the movies, and punch the person, winning a Rambo-like victory. He pictured the blood pouring out of the person’s nostrils, and felt a nutty feeling of vindication. It was like a mixture of nervousness and happiness, and was followed by a hollow, shrinking feeling in his groin.
Joe snapped out of his violent reverie and realized his car was trailing into the next lane. The SUV behind him high-beamed him and he pulled quickly back into the lane, but he immediately felt rage at the person for high-beaming him. “Fucking fuck!” he screamed to himself, his voice going hoarse. “Probably some fucking overweight Fundamentalist Christian Republican prick! Ruining our fucking country!” His mind flashed to an image of himself repeatedly kicking this person in the face.
Suddenly Joe felt embarrassed. He regretted that he had put the ‘Impeach Bush’ bumper sticker on the car that morning in a fit of self-righteous dissent. He felt contempt for the person in the SUV, but he felt like a bourgeois suckass in his Subaru. He vaguely realized that if he saw himself in the Subaru, driving by in another car, he would say, “Fucking ivory tower liberal.” And he grasped, without consciously articulating it, that his ‘lefty’ political sentiments were a kind of emotional fantasy – they fulfilled the same role as the Rambo-type stuff.
What did Joe really believe then – was he all just impulse and reaction? He switched his deepest beliefs on the drop of a dime. But then everyone was like that in this fucking country. Everyone was rotten to the core, even the kids are just overfed little fucking consumers. So much ugliness everywhere. At this point, he arrived at the ‘misanthrope’ fantasy: He would cut himself off from this shitty, lost bunch of losers and check out – live ‘off the grid.’ Nobody to answer to. He began to fantasize about how people would speak with reverence about him. People would come to meet with him; he would become kind of a sage. “I live for myself alone,” he was telling Charlie Sheen in his fantasy when his cell phone rang.
“Honey, it’s me,” said Joe’s wife on the other end. “Can you pick up 1% milk? And make sure to get the organic."
Joe dutifully obeyed and hung up the phone. The fantasies had played themselves out. He turned on the radio, heard the familiar theme of NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’, and felt content again.
Date Written: February 07, 2004
Author: Phony Millions
Average Vote: 3.8