Most people who know me will tell you to your face, though seldom to mine, that my demeanor in person is something less than exuberant. In fact, it's something a lot less than exuberant. Despondent, despairing, depressed — it sounds like the worst possible Cole Porter lyric. On the other hand, I don't let it get to me, so to speak.

Damon Runyon once opined that life, at best, was six-to-five against; most of us working nine-to-five find the odds closer to forty-to-one. And that, according to your friendly neighborhood Social Darwinist, is the way things ought to be; if we bottom-feeders had any real merit, we'd be rolling in wealth. Of course, a perfunctory glance at any year's Forbes 400 suggests that our real failure lies in our unaccountably poor choice of ancestors.

Being born with a Dairy Queen spoon in one's mouth, though, is not enough to drag a person down to the depths. It takes some serious effort to hit bottom on a regular basis. And while ignorance does not automatically result in bliss, the getting of wisdom inevitably entails the shedding of tears.

Not that I am particularly wise, you understand. I am tolerably bright, I suppose, and I can usually get through an article of this length without setting off the alarm on the spell-checker, but I do know my limitations. And they are severe enough to keep me off the positive side of whatever emotional X-axis you're trying to plot. Still, my litany of D-words does not include "dysfunctional"; I function pretty well, all things considered. It's just that I've learned to keep my expectations low. And when the bullet or bacterium or Buick or whatever with my name on it finally makes its appearance, well, I knew it was heading my way all along.

The Vent

#39
1 February 1997

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 Copyright © 1997 by Charles G. Hill