TANDY VERSYP Staff Writer
On Jan. 19, I decided to make a date with the counseling office at York Hall. The idea wasn’t arbitrary, or just because their services are free to SCAD students. It started the week before, when a girl cut in line at Bacchus.
Bacchus is always poppin’ on half-priced Monday nights, crowded with high-functioning alcoholics desperately clinging on to the hope that the weekend will never end. Ten minutes of waiting in a three-booze-hound-deep line was already testing my patience when a chica with long dark hair and the face of an overly self-medicated trophy wife walked right past me to the bar. She knew I was there, because she stepped on my toe with her pumps and hit my arm with her Louis Vuitton douche bag. So I waited until she paid for her drink.
“Hi, how are you? Can I just shake your hand?” I smiled and began shaking her hand enthusiastically. “Congratulations! You’ve just won the bitch award this evening for knowingly cutting in line.”
“What? I didn’t … ” she stammered.
“Yes, you did. Have a great evening.” I dropped my smile.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” she asked. Her confused look turned to anger.
“It’s already done. You can pick up your award in the alley with the other trash. Good night,” I dismissed her.
It was definitely a good burn, a perfect “Oh snap!” moment – so good that someone bought me a drink. But it wasn’t necessary. I probably ruined her whole night over something I would have forgotten in 30 minutes. One of my friends told me I was the one who won the bitch award for the evening.
And thinking back over my many Regina George moments, I realized I was in the hall of fame of mean girls in a high school movie. There was the time I told another restaurant co-worker, “My table eats more bread than a Holocaust victim.” Her grandmother was a survivor.
There was the time I told a slender, beautiful friend that I was going to tease her until she developed an eating disorder. She had one in high school.
And still, there was the time I told Erica Dunton, director of “The 27 Club,” that Danny Strong, writer of “Recount,” wasn’t gay, in a loud whisper he clearly heard.
When did I become so prickly and callous to other people’s feelings? Why did I elect myself HBIC of my small, self-centered universe? What happened to the affable kid from Hawley, Texas who was scared to speak up in my 2-D design class critiques? Although he’s long gone, I went to the counseling office to bring some form of him back.
Before you can see a counselor, you have to fill out a questionnaire. Some questions are about body image: “How often do you eat?” “Do you eat to feel?” “Do you think you’re a Fatty McFat-Fat?” Or to gauge your sociopathic tendencies: “Do you like people?” “How often do you have intense thoughts of hurting others?” “Have you ever killed anyone?”
But the last bit you have to fill out is the hardest: “What brought you to the counseling office?”
Good question. The more I thought, the more it wasn’t the incident at Bacchus. It was Wishbone and the Internet. Wishbone, the well-read Jack Russell terrier on PBS, advocated standing up for your beliefs. Our generation was raised on speak-your-mind edu-tainment, entitling us to assert our own opinions as unique individuals. It was refreshing after many generations of keeping-your-mouth-shut social niceties, but now, it’s gone a little too far in conjunction-junction with the Internet.
Don’t like someone? Believe strongly about something? Just write it in feedback to a blog, video or status update. What’s better than having an opinion about something and not having to face the person you beat over the head with it? I’ll tell you: Using fun words such as, “suck it,” “your mother,” and various expletives that District won’t print. The Internet makes it easy to share an opinion with thousands or millions of people, safe in your own home, but mostly those opinions are not articulate or crucial to your existence.
People everywhere have opinions that are stupid, including me – opinions and words that are best not said. Although I was standing up for basic human decency at Bacchus, I used the lexicon of blog culture, a glib attack that changed my earnestness to flippant dick-ness.
After I sat down in the cubicle with my counselor, she looked down at my questionnaire. “It says here that the reason you came to the office is because, ‘I’m kind of turning into an a******, and I would like it to stop.’”
“Yes. That’s right,” I said.
“Well, I think we can work through that,” she smiled.