“C’est bien sucré,” the French woman next to me says to her equally as overzealous companion. And though she’s talking about her coffee, something in her happy-go-lucky aura tells me she seems to think that life–both hers and the concept as a whole–is well-sugared, too. As far as I’m concerned, however, it is not. It is as bitter as the espresso I’ve just ingested like a tequila shot to revive my dulled mind. Her animated and overly jovial nature is not, to me, what a French person is supposed to be “about.” In fact, the only reason I’ve ever tolerated French women is for their cunt rag attitude. I certainly hate their accents when they speak English (maybe more than they hate it when Americans speak French) and their congenital pompousness as a result of being born with a natural fashion sense and waif-like body.
And as I give her my best bitch face via a side glance that she appears immune to, I wonder when it is I became so contemptuous of everything and everyone. In junior high, the airs of angst were put on solely because it was the chic thing to do, and Hot Topic was at the pinnacle of its sales. As high school approached, my feelings of aversion to most people started to become realer. It was no longer merely because I was a “goth,” but because I genuinely despised everyone around me. The sound of laughter in others would make–still makes–me cringe. I was worse than Adam Sandler as Robbie Hart in The Wedding Singer after he’s left at the altar by his fiancée. His sudden ire for weddings after so long loving them and his role in them is this: “I hate the bride. I hate the groom. I want them to be miserable because that’s what I am.” That was generally my experience with everybody regardless of their marital status. Their frivolousness, their okayness with being frivolous–it was enough to propel me to turn Columbine shooter. So I stopped engaging, became something of a ghost of life.
By the time college rolled around, I had perfected the art of invisibility. In sophomore year, I won the “lottery” for a single room, thereby nullifying any potential I might have to interact with others. And it all stemmed from vaguely attempting to be social in freshman year, where I was the third wheel roommate of two sorority without being in a sorority girls named Grace and Brielle. Appropriate monikers for their frilly and cliquish nature. Their tittering-punctuated closeness prompted me to retreat often, preferring to ride the Big Blue Bus throughout its route in Santa Monica rather than subject myself to their blatant judgment of how “weird” I was. But since when was it weird to look at life and say: “Yeah, this is a piece of shit. Who the fuck came up with this?” Like Madonna, says in “In This Life,” “Why do we have to pretend? Someday I pray it will end.” It was during my university tenure that I was forced to reconcile what my greatest curse would be once the false reality of college ended: I could not, for any price or tantalization, feign to enjoy that which was unenjoyable.
That’s probably why, when graduation came, I was left without any job prospects. Not even the ones that my parents deemed “easy” to procure, like a hostessing or serving job in some imitation bourgeois restaurant (there are a lot of those in L.A.). But how could anyone think that swallowing shit every day to serve less intelligent people who still somehow make more money than you is “easy”? It fucking isn’t and I wasn’t going to do it, nor would anyone even hire me to do it because of my blatantly disinterested and surly disposition–which, as I’ve said, simply cannot be concealed no matter how hard I’ve tried.
So I did what anyone conditioned to succumb to learned helplessness would do: I stayed in bed all day. Sometimes I would get up to make myself a hot chocolate or attempt to keep my mind sharp by reading or watching Arrested Development for the first time, but all in all, I slept. It’s the most non-committal approach to death, after all. Months went by and still none of the underpaid office jobs I had applied for responded to me to let me know for certain whether I would need to move back in with my parents or not.
And, just when I had lost all hope and surrendered to the notion of becoming a townie, I received the call for the interview that would “save” me. Except that, as Morrissey so eloquently put it, “I was looking for a job and then I found a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now.” It was a fresh misery to replace the old one, and each day felt increasingly like living with arthritis in that it was starting to become a dull pain made dull solely by the fact that I was used to it.
So there I was, taking my coffee break at my usual place on Wilshire Boulevard near the office that provided me with a menial title and salary, trying to savor what marginal amount of solace I could in the comfort of a caprese sandwich served on focaccia bread and the aforementioned espresso when this French woman and her cohort suddenly revealed themselves, in truth, to be American. They were, as I soon overheard, students at UCLA practicing their French conversational skills. And all at once, everything made sense. No wonder they were so uncharacteristically plucky and animated. My initial ethnic stereotype had proven accurate, and it made my body swell with the hotness of hatred that it so often did on a daily basis. As the women rose from their table presumably to go out into the world and continue to relish an existence still paid for by their parents, I found myself paralyzed as my heart raced as it might during the phases of an orgasm. Yet that is the opposite of what I was having. My entire life had been one anti-orgasm, as it were. Unless one could count getting off on a commingling of rage and sadness as some sort of emotional climax.
Slapping down my unfinished sandwich on the plate, I had to admit to myself that my brief occupancy of this realm–my attitude–appeared to be desperately in need of being “bien sucré.” Yet there was no reason to receive any sugar in the coffee cup of my personality. Because everyone is a little asshole, so enmeshed in their own faux dramas and base desires–and there is, quite frankly, no way to sugarcoat that.