Rotten Egg

If the last one to do such and such is a rotten egg, then the first is a “fresh” one and will still ultimately grow rotten anyway. There is no avoiding “rot,” or what society wants to condition you to believe is rot. In short, “laziness” a.k.a. taking one’s time in doing things. In elementary school, Kara never fell for the trap of that designed-to-be-motivating catch phrase. Instead, she deliberately defied it. Whenever students or teachers alike tried to dangle it to make her fear being a “rotten egg,” she would just laugh. And that really creeped them out. But how could they not fathom how fucking stupid they were? 

Kara supposed that was among the first instances of her understanding that she wasn’t quite “like” the others. That there must have been some sort of “mechanism” she was missing. The one that made you act a “correct” way in front of the “public.” Even though she knew perfectly well that, behind closed doors, everybody was a different person. Their true selves. But Kara never bothered to distinguish her “behind-closed-doors” self from her “outside world” self. That seemed like a complete waste of perfectly good energy, and besides, she didn’t feel there was anything she needed to hide. She wasn’t an undercover freakshow like the rest of them—she put her so-called freakdom on blast. And the funniest thing about it was that what they viewed as “freaky,” she saw merely as honesty. 

It was in this way that Kara learned early on that you were never supposed to express what you really thought or act in any manner that went noticeably “against the herd.” Which was why it was so scandalous to them when she wouldn’t play along with their absurd rotten egg “game”—if it could even be called that. It seemed to her more like a children’s version of a witch hunt, designed to single out anyone who was branded “different” enough to be crucified. Burned at the stake. Yet if going at her own pace meant being “different,” Kara was prepared to deal with the fallout. You weren’t going to catch her scrambling (no egg pun intended) to keep up with the others just for the sake of something like “appearances.” Pretending to give a shit… which is what it’s all about in this “civilized” life founded on nothing but false pretenses. Never say what you feel, or risk the condemnation of the court of public opinion. 

Ironically, Kara would end up becoming a lawyer. Somehow, she eked by without causing too many controversies in her classes and passed the bar exam with flying colors. Soon, she was working at a mid-size firm in Downtown Los Angeles (which was filled mostly with law firms in between the tenements of the homeless that no one bothered to defend). 

While those who thought they “knew” Kara in her youth might have been surprised to learn of her career path, it should have been an obvious choice to anyone who comprehended her constant championing of the underdog. And while she didn’t always have a say in who she defended, by and large, she was able to opt for those who would have been helpless without her. The battered wife suing the rich and powerful soon-to-be-ex-husband, the tenants evicted by their landlord, the employees wrongfully terminated. These were the people she got into “the business” for. 

These were the people who constituted a subset beyond garden-variety criminals like murderers and rapists. Indeed, Kara was aware that most of the people she defended were victims of being the “rotten egg” of her childhood. People who simply couldn’t conform to what was expected of them as theoretical “upstanding” members of society. And that was another term Kara had always loathed: “member of society.” As though it were some exclusive, elitist club. And of course it was. That’s why it excluded what Demolition Man called “the scraps.” The people who the system couldn’t fit into a neat box, therefore had to box them out. Conform or be erased. And the erasure starts from an early age, from the moment They can tell there’s something within you that’s “not right.” That you can’t be molded into the “appropriate” form that will allow you to function “properly” as an adult. 

Maybe Kara wasn’t functioning. Even if she managed to hold down a steady job, the ultimate mark of being “functional.” But that was during the daylight hours. At night, that’s when she could really come undone, starting to understand what it meant to have two bifurcated personalities for work and “play.” She wouldn’t really classify drinking to her heart’s content while she sat on her balcony gazing into the abyss of the West L.A. outline as “play,” but surely there must have been something “rotten” about it. That word had infected her brain ever since childhood. Kara wanted to do everything to avoid it, to prove to the wardens of this world that the rules they tried to put in place were not only stifling, but inane. They proved nothing about whether or not a child would succeed in life just because she adhered or didn’t to them. How many obedient souls from that era must surely be in the gutter by now? Some of them looking up at the stars. Following the rules doesn’t ensure a “reward,” Kara knew that. It was all luck and chance. A daily roll of the fuckin’ dice. Somehow, she kept getting hard eights. That’s probably part of what was plaguing her. 

On some level, she wanted “the rules” to be real. To believe that “virtue” was renumerated and “vice” was punished. Yet from the instant she saw that her own “vice” of being a rotten egg resulted in nothing more than mild ostracism, the light went off in her head: there were no real consequences for anything. It was all part of the smokescreen put up by “civilized” society to keep people in line. Only the select few, like Kara, would ever be made wise to the fact that none of it meant a goddamn thing. “Obeying” wouldn’t stop evil from prevailing. Wouldn’t alter the hand you’d been dealt as either rich or poor. Kara had been dealt the lamer hand of being middle-class, knowing full well that nothing. ever. happens. Not when you’re in that category. So you drink, and you try to forget about the utter meaninglessness of it all through numbness. And that’s how Kara spent her nights falling asleep. Occasionally coming to on the balcony and remembering that, goddammit, she was still alive.  

One day, she awoke earlier than usual (having somehow landed in her bed), as though an invisible hand had tapped her to give her a start. She figured she might as well get ready for work, and arrived in the parking lot hungover yet again but appearing “fresh.” Although she was about fifteen minutes early, Kara spotted two of her co-workers already walking together toward the entrance. Struck with a fit of whimsicality, she sprinted in their direction and shouted, “Last one to the office is a rotten egg!”

She mostly expected that they would just look at her like she was crazy, maybe roll their eyes and continue walking at the same pace. But to her extreme dismay, the old knee-jerk reaction to the saying kicked in, and they started to run as fast as they could to get to the fifth floor. That’s when Kara stopped in her tracks and watched them from her rightful vantage point as the rotten egg. For a second there, she had almost forgotten her position in life. 

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