Monday, July 11, 2011

The Scabby Underbelly of Comforting Phrases

1) Virtue is its own reward.

Everything we do in this life we do to get noticed, and real virtue is seldom noticed, so we soothe ourselves by saying virtue is intrinsically good because it usually fails to deliver the recognition we crave.

Even more depressing is watching someone vulgarly draw attention to their virtue, which contaminates that virtue with the vice of pride. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so if you aren’t a virtue whore, your virtue will be overlooked and your only recourse will be the sour delusion that your virtue is rewarding in and of itself (it isn’t).

2) Living well is the best revenge.

Actually, the best revenge is direct, immediate retaliation. In cases of infidelity, the best revenge is immediately shacking up with someone hotter and rubbing it in the face of the villain who cheated on you. Seducing someone hotter doesn’t bring nearly as much satisfaction if the person you are trying to hurt never knows about it.

Alas, anti-assault laws and the universe’s lack of benevolence keep us from attaining the honey-soaked bliss of physical/romantic vengeance, so we search for relief in the notion of avenging our wounds by “living well.” But living well is a crappy consolation prize. It is the dinette set on “The Price is Right.”

Moving on to a better job doesn’t unlaugh all the fake chuckles you coughed up when your former boss tried to be funny. It doesn’t restore the enamel you lost from grinding your teeth each time he forced "vis-à-vis" into a sentence in a poor attempt to sound smart. Those humiliations are forever, and leave your soul hunchbacked long before old age turns your spine into a krazy straw.

As for romantic vengeance, while it is nice to think that finding someone hotter will ease the pain of being cheated on, if it takes 5 years to find that person, those lips can’t help but taste like sour grapes. Why would it take so long? Because the devastation of being cheated on leaves you looking so haggard not even reunited hair bands will throw you a bone.

Living well is a poor stand-in for real revenge, but as it is the only realistic form of vengeance available, we call it "the best." The honest among you would do well to start saying: Living well is the only revenge.

3 The grass is always greener.

As we age (decay), life brings us diminishing returns. We get less and less of a kick from the pleasure-seeking rituals we once counted on, so we need to spin our wheels in new directions to divert our focus from the familiar agonies of existence. This means pining for new cities, new jobs, new wives, new kids...

But there is no escape. Your lawn could look like it was imported from the Emerald City and it still wouldn’t be as green as your eyes when you gaze upon your neighbor’s glistening, dew-weighted blades. And perfection is no solution either. The proof? Someone cheated on the perfect looking Elizabeth Hurley (but I'm sure she was content to know she was living well).

We are the lone inhabitants of an otherwise barren galaxy, and it still isn't enough to fill us up. What makes you think a move across the county is going to help?

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