My friend H— long ago once said that I like everyone. She said, “Yeah, but you like everyone.”
This was a sign of a still budding friendship, or at least a sign that I liked everyone in the English MA program (which is pretty true, except for some professors). Hopefully after our most recent trip to Long Beach, H—‘s understanding of me has evolved into a–what should I say?–a more accurate one.
Because I do hate people, including that one guy who cut me off twice in five minutes. I didn’t hate him when he first ran a stop sign in front of me, smashing almost into my car. No, I was busy figuring out my almost heart attack. I hated him later, as I was signaling to turn into a parking spot, when he drove up from the opposite way, stared right into my eyes and pulled into what would have been my spot. I promise I would have gotten out and said something, but I was already late. I shook my fist, though, and glared real menacingly, the jerk.
But I mean, most people aren’t like that, which is why I like most people most of the time. But some people really, really, get under my skin and (confession:) sometimes I wish they’d die. Okay, not die. Just leave me and the rest of humanity forever. This is extreme, I know, which is why my brothers always call me Elaine from Seinfeld. This is especially extreme for one who studies and teaches rhetoric and how to get along with people by understanding people. But that’s the problem: some people I just can’t make sense of–how rude, obnoxious, selfish, pompous, manipulative, hypocritical, not funny, etc., etc. they can be over and over.
Which leads me to my last and somewhat relevant point:
One time a middle school teacher told me she hated me in front of the class. Literally, she said, “I hate you.” The whole class fell silent. (There were suspicions that she hated me because she was a temp and I talked and laughed and “interrupted” too much. There were also suspicions that she hated me because I was Mormon. One time she asked if there were any Mormons in the class. When the two of us stood up, she said, “Okay,” and things got kinda weird after that.)
Anyway. You know what I said back?
“Well, Ms. Robinson. I guess I hate you too.” The class gasped, then laughed.
I know I shouldn’t be, but I am still proud of my response.