Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Perception vs. Reality

So, we have this friend. Let’s call her Swiss Miss. Swiss Miss played an integral role in our college experience, being a key player in some of the best and most of the worst memories from this time of our lives. We’re a little surprised that we somehow managed to go five months without sharing any anecdotes from this important character from our past (she spent a few seasons solidly in the the main cast, before the writers decided to reduce her role to special guest star), which we can only attribute to our doing our best to forget her.

Nobody’s perfect, but Swiss Miss has more than her fair share of flaws. We can look back now and (kind of) laugh about her numerous shortcomings because it is (almost) funny to look at them from afar (we can’t emphasize enough how not funny they are when living with her). By far and large, her biggest/saddest/most absurd problem is the extremely delusional disconnect between how she perceives herself and the reality of her questionable-at-best character.

You’re beautiful.

If you asked Swiss Miss to describe herself (but don’t worry, you will never have to persuade her to share her multifarious opinions with you), she would tell you that she is the full-packaged triple threat deal: pretty, smart, and nice (never mind that you can only ever, at most, maintain two of the elusive trifecta, of which Anya will tell you all about one day). Now, Swiss Miss is a pretty woman. Fine. We will give her that one. But smart? Not so much. And nice!? Girl has an ego and sense of entitlement that would cause her to fit right in with America’s Royal Family, the Kardashian Klan.

Never let fame affect what really matters.

We are all guilty of occasionally rating ourselves both higher and lower in specific areas, where a panel of experts would rank us rather differently. Maybe we’re extra harsh on the the state of our stomach fat or constantly insist that we are “such good drunks.” While this isn’t great, there is a huge difference between downplaying a weakness or playing up a strength (real or imagined) and having some kind of magical idealized version of yourself that exists ONLY IN YOUR HEAD AND HAS NEVER, EVER BEEN A REALITY.

That’s the worst thing about Swiss Miss. It’s not that she’s simply not a nice person. We’re not exceedingly genial people, but we’re also quite aware of this personality quirk (you say ‘flaw,’ we say ‘advantage,’ so... let’s meet somewhere in the middle?). The true issues arise from the fact that she operates on a level of cuntery and petty malice that even we can’t touch, all the while thinking that she is the greatest friend, daughter, roommate, sister, girlfriend, student, employee, and conscientious citizen in existence. She then spends an exorbitant amount of time lamenting on how unappreciated she is and how everyone in the universe is constantly taking advantage of her bottomless well of generosity.

Surely she’s not that bad you say. You’re just jealous because she’s got her life together (ha!) and you obviously don’t. She can’t be so bad that you have to make up a word like “cuntery” for her. FINE. You insisted. We hear you. Just keep reading.

Her deep-seated evil began in the womb, although it managed to hide itself rather successfully, not manifesting itself until Swiss Miss turned four, in what would infamously be known as “The Flower Incident” (alternative title: “Why Swiss Miss Will Never Be the Favorite”). On a lazy summer afternoon, young Swiss Miss was enjoying a snack of cookies. After finishing her reasonably-sized snack, Swiss Miss decided that she needed more. Her mother told her that she had eaten enough and that dinner would be served in another hour. Swiss Miss was unsatisfied with this answer and began to loudly protest, as children are wont to do.

While the beginning of the story may be a tale well-known to us all, this is where the plot diverges from the archetypal tantrum, fatherly intervention, and lesson learned, into something a bit... darker. Instead of screaming at her mother, running away, or throwing her toys around in a fit of rage, Swiss Miss quietly went into the living room. She climbed a chair, so that she could reach the top of the fireplace mantle. At the center of the mantle was a glass case holding a delicate dried rose that her father had given her mother on their first date. Swiss Miss took the sentimental flower out of the case and crushed it into a hundred pieces over the carpet.

Remind us again why we should have children?

Some of you might be apt to dismiss this singularly shocking and heinous behavior as “kids will be kids”. We might buy that if she hadn’t only gotten more diabolical with age. Also if she hadn’t destroyed something that she, as a four year old, knew was her mother’s most treasured possession, and purposely set out to punish her for limiting the cookie intake of a kindergartener. Therein lies Swiss Miss’s molten hot core of evil. Most of know people we dislike, or even hate. We have friends that hurt our feelings or siblings that make us seethe with white hot rage. What do we do about it? We suck it up, take a deep breathe, and dream up revenge fantasies that we never unleash in person. We type up vitriolic emails, wait twenty four hours, and delete them. We spend our lunch break bitching about the depravity, and then go back to work like professionals.

Swiss Miss does all of the former and none of the latter. Those awful, completely below the belt things you would never *actually* say to your parents/sister/boyfriend/co-worker? She lets it fly. Angry at your best friend? Sleep with her boyfriend to prove a point. Not happy with your meal at a restaurant? Steal the silverware, make a mess, don’t leave a tip, maybe even bitch at the waitress for good measure. Annoyed that your roommate has her boyfriend over too much? Stop speaking to her, stop doing household chores, and knock all of her towels off the rack.

The thing is, she honestly believes that all of that behavior is not only justified, but necessary. How do you get someone like that to look in the mirror and say “oh shit, I should change something”?

Answer: You can’t.

If you’re worried that this article applies to you, it probably doesn’t. These kind of people never let those pesky thoughts cross their minds.


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