Some guy walked up to me on Pardall and asked if I knew where an ATM was. I told him there was one on campus by the Arbor.
A bunch of kids walked past me (again on Pardall, where I’m wont to lurk at a certain coffee shop, the identity of which can remain anonymous for the sake of my sex life) and I started whistling the Boy Scouts marching tune.
Some female voices issued forth from Trop as my roommate and myself walked back to our apartment late at night. “Hey, sexy boys!” they yelled. “Go to sleep, you creepy ladies!” we replied.
Hi. My name is Alex Benowitz-Fredericks, and I am mean to freshmen.
The basic excuse here is one of basic pecking-order cruelty; y’know, the kind that said if you, the dorky girl, sat next to him, the football player, in the cafeteria, then you were legally obligated to withstand a series of bra-strap-snappings and glasses thefts. But that’s just an excuse.
Ethically speaking, I think hazing is asinine. There’s simply no good rationalization for traditionalized abuse; for those who think hazing makes them stronger, hell, I’m all for hazing those people. I’m all for poking them in the eyes with sticks until they feel like Stone Cold. But it’s an unconscionable way to treat people who are well-meaning and kind. These people should be rewarded for their kindness and good intentions.
Okay, so the world doesn’t work that way – these people tend to be the “platonic friend” to vast hordes of the opposite sex and whack off in lonesome despair every night – but it ought to. And that’s the noble part of why I act like a raging dickhead to people obviously younger than me.
But first, I will concede that my behavior is influenced by the fact that, well, they are younger than me. I am, brace yourselves, 23. At an age where some of the kids I know are already starting their own bloody companies, where every author I’ve ever respected has published at least something, and where a pop star is about to become past her or his prime, I’m struggling towards a degree in … Creative Studies. And 2002 marked the appearance of a new and vicious strain of social virus – the “Alex Is Old” joke.
Thus, part of my behavior is explained by a feral sort of getting-them-before-they-get-me. Yes, I’m bloody old. Yes, I’m too bloody old to be an undergraduate. Yes, when everyone told me at seventeen that I seemed “very mature for my age,” they didn’t really expect to hold by that once I made it a good way into my twenties while remaining reliant on parents for food money (the decadent Nexus lifestyle being a myth). But like the one wolf at the back of the pack, I’m slow but wily. I might not outrun the bear, but I’ll trip your ass and watch you do your salmon impression.
Still, I claimed a nobler motive, and I stand by it. I act like a dick because I want to piss people off. How noble, I know. But look at it this way: I’m a very small dick. Aw, fuck, let me rephrase that: I’m a very mild dick. The kind of manipulation and emotional abuse I engage in is picayune compared the kind of behavior I’ve witnessed. If someone can look at me and go, “Man, that guy’s an ass; I don’t want to be like him at all,” then I’ve actually made this world better.
Even if someone goes, “I can’t wait ’til I have enough status to be an asshole to people,” as long as they’re taking my example of assholedom to heart and not that of, say, a back-stabber, a rapist or a vandal, then I’ve made the world a better place by being mean. In fact, if everyone were a jerk the way I’m a jerk, the world wouldn’t be so bad.
Even if the ATMs would become much farther away.
Daily Nexus Artsweek editor Alex Benowitz-Fredericks spews forth malice and hatred to all younger than him every other week on the Opinion page.