Half Mast - A Second Excerpt

By Christopher Null

Copyright © 2002 by Christopher Null

December 21, 1999

This is the one good thing about the holidays: There is no one around to bother you.  The week before Christmas, everything just shuts down, stuck in time.  Nothing gets done, and no one cares that it didn't get done.  I love it.  Gives you have a second to think.  Or not to think.  Whatever.

When pressed, or even asked nicely, I am always happy to spell out my three rules to live by.  Everybody has rules like these -- don't drink caffeine, go to church every Sunday, and so on.  You probably have rules of your own.

My rules are pretty simple.  First, I never trust vegetarians.  Everyone needs protein to live, and it's unnatural not to eat meat, since we are really designed as carnivores.  So if you're a vegetarian, I may give you the time of day, but I'm not going to take your mutual fund advice.

Second, I never trust a man who doesn't drink.  I can understand if you've made a lifestyle choice or if you're a recovering alcoholic, but people who don't drink have no way to chemically loosen themselves up.  It took a lot of alcohol to loosen me up, so I speak from experience.  I try not to apply this rule to women because you never know when they're going to be pregnant and not drinking because of that, and I have gotten myself in trouble by asking that question before, so I exempt females from this rule.

Finally, another rule that only applies to men, and that is never, ever trust a man with a hyphenated last name.  If your given name was hyphenated, you need to drop half of it, as soon as is legally possible.  Even though it's not your fault, you look like you're part of the second group of men with hyphenated last names: You got married and you and your wife created a hyphenated last name.  This is a totally pantywaist thing to do.  If your girlfriend has that much control over you that she can make you change your name, you should just go ahead and castrate yourself right now.  You should be the woman, and she can be the man.

So those are my Big Three rules, but of course I have some others, which I'll write down here for posterity:

I never drink milk.  Humans are the only species that consumes milk after infancy, and it isn't normal to do so.  Plus, milk has a lot of pus in it from the bovine growth hormones, and that can't be good for you.  So stay away from the stuff.  (Though I do enjoy ice cream, sadly.)

Do not ride a bicycle, anywhere, ever.  If you are riding a bicycle on the street and I am driving, I will not pay any attention to you.  If you are on the sidewalk, I will push you off or throw something in your spokes.  You are too slow for traffic, and you probably don't obey traffic signals.  Bicycles do not exist in my eyes.

Finish everything you start, even if it's no fun.  This applies especially to bad movies.  If you pay to see Citizen Kane, you're going to watch the whole thing, right?  Well, even if you pay to see Weekend at Bernie's, you should watch the whole movie, because you never know when it's going to redeem itself and become brilliant.  Sure, with a movie like Bernie's, this is not likely, but you'd be surprised how many low-grade movies, TV shows, and books have one shining moment (even if it's the fact that it's finally over).  So never walk out of a movie, and never quit watching a video in the middle.  You owe it to yourself.

Private schools do not teach you anything useful about life.  Never send your kid to a private college, especially.  You are flushing your money down the commode if you do that.  Lots of people from FVH went to private colleges, and they are all now bartenders, waiters, or public school teachers.  You don't need a degree from Harvard to do those jobs.  I went to public schools all my life, and some of it was rough, but public school hardened me, and my outlook on life is very balanced now.

There's nothing wrong with holding a grudge.  This is simply the same thing as having a good memory, but people often misinterpret it as being malicious.  If you can remember that some girl slapped you ten years ago, that will save you the embarrassment of talking to her at a bar tomorrow.  She just may slap you again!  If you have been wronged, it's important to constantly remind yourself through a mental checklist of names, dates, and wrongful activities.  If you find this list too difficult to keep in your head, there's no shame in keeping it written down on paper or in a computer database.  (As you can imagine, my Steve Williams file is quite extensive.)

Oh yeah: Eating eggs is eating unborn animals.  That's just sick.

Cleanliness is next to godliness.  It is important to know where all your things are.  I don't move my stuff around the apartment, ever.  Everything has a place where it fits and should stay.  This way, you don't have to expend energy looking for stuff that is lost.  What a waste!  If someone messes up your stuff, they are making you waste your energy, and you should put them on your grudge list.

Paranoia is natural and healthy.  If you believe that you don't have enemies, you are being naïve.  Steve Williams thought he had no enemies, and look what happened to him.  Enemies are all around you.  Someday you'll get called into your boss's office and you'll be sanctioned or fired, all because you pissed off some peon who complained to Human Resources about you.  If you can't be nice, at least watch your back.

Just because you like things done in a certain way, don't let anyone tell you you're a control freak.  If you know the best way to get something done, you should do it that way, and you should help other people see that your way is best.  There's no shame in that, although you may create some enemies (see the section on paranoia, above) in people who resist your suggestions.  Hold your ground, and remember that you are right.  But watch your back!

Die well.  I have always imagined that my death will be some bizarre occurrence you'd see reenacted on Unsolved Mysteries or Dateline NBC.  Maybe I'll be slain by my wife or by a hit man she hired in some kind of insurance scam.  Or maybe my car will just blow up one day when I turn the key in the ignition -- victim of an IRA terrorist bomb.  Or a plane crash.  Unfortunately, you don't have a lot of control over this, so try to stay healthy and live as long as possible.  You don't want to die of cancer or a heart attack.  That is not dying well.  Steve Williams died extremely well.  It was a little bit disgusting there at the end, but I think his death was quite sexy.

That turned into a much longer list than I thought it would be.

…continued in Half Mast

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