Are We Having Fun Yet?

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I am happy to report that I have a new window. I just opened my curtains so I could gaze at it with satisfaction for a few moments. It's solid and unbroken and a much better state of affairs than I woke to three days ago. There are only a few lingering annoyances about the whole business: first of all, although the glaziers washed the inside window before they installed the storm window, they didn't get all the grubbiness off it: you can still see a few smudges where the snowball or chunk of ice thudded against the inside window. Secondly, there are a few bits of glass and other debris trapped on the sill between the storm and the inside window, and since neither opens, the only way to get rid of said debris is to remove the storm window. Of course I won't do such a thing in the middle of winter, but I'm anal-retentive enough to get someone to help me do it when the weather warms up, because I just don't like knowing those bits that shouldn't be there, are.

And third, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm still mulling over the unpleasant idea that some people find vandalism fun. I've been the victim of such "fun" a time or two before. One Saturday morning during my last spring in Iowa, I got up, went out to my car to run some errands, and discovered that someone had kicked in the tail lights during the night. My neighbor told me that someone had knocked over his motorcycle and broken its mirrors.

I dutifully reported the incident to the cops. A nice middle-aged policeman came to take the report. "I don't get it," I said. "Why do people do stuff like this? Why do they think it's fun?"

"Too much alcohol and too much testosterone makes people stupid and mean," he said. "Add in that warm weather's finally here after a really long winter, and you've got all kinds of petty vandalism going on."

But that still doesn't explain why people think vandalism is fun. And as much as I would like to believe that women and girls as a whole don't get off on inflicting damage, I know better.

When I was in high school, there were these girls I knew through church whose idea of a fun way to pass a Tuesday evening was to go to Safeway, fill up a grocery cart with perishables like sirloin roasts and ice cream, as well as health and hygiene items like Preparation H and maxi-pads, then abandon the in the middle of the cereal aisle. These were girls who would stand up during testimony meeting and weep feelingly as they talked about the importance of living a Christ-centered life. When I heard them laughing over how much fun this activity was, I said, "Wow, letting perfectly good food spoil and delighting in making someone else clean up after you--that's the kind of thing Jesus would definitely approve of. Way to be a shining example of the gospel in action! No wonder you feel so strongly that the church and all its teachings are true."

To which they replied, "Sheesh, what a stick in the mud you are. No wonder no one ever asks you out."

Then there were a few of my friends who thought it was really fun to go to Pizza Hut, sit in a booth where you had a view of the door into the bathrooms, plug up the toilet in the ladies' room with toilet paper, then watch the expressions on people's faces sharpen in dismayed disgust as they realized they were standing in a few inches of water backed up from the toilet.

"Why on earth do you guys want to do something so stupid?" I asked. "First of all, it's a crime--it's vandalism. Second, it's taking pleasure in someone else's misfortunes. Is that really the kind of person you want to be?"

Melanie--who also really liked the abandoned grocery cart approach to fun--scowled at me. "You're such a killjoy, Holly. Next time we come to Pizza Hut, if I have anything to do with it, you won't be invited."

(Ah, Melanie: the girl who told me that she had it on very good authority that drinking caffeinated beverages would be enough to keep you out of the celestial kingdom, even if you obeyed all the other commandments of the gospel. But there was no commandment expressly condemning willful acts of damage to others' septic systems, so she could still get into heaven while I, Coca-cola drinker that I was, could not.)

As I said, I understand a desire for revenge without necessarily approving of it. But Melanie and the others had nothing against the other patrons at Pizza Hut, or even against the employees, managers or owners of Pizza Hut. They just found it amusing to see people be unhappy, uncomfortable and inconvenienced.

WHY? Why do people think such things are fun? Why is it funny to see someone slip on a banana peel and fall down? I never thought that was funny, even as a very little girl. "Why are people laughing when that man is crying?" I would ask. I never liked slapstick, and I have always hated Groucho Marx, whose humor is predicated on not merely mocking but humiliating and tormenting people who have done him no great wrong, who are simply weak or stupid or unattractive. I don't find such things funny; I find them despicable. I not only don't want to hang out with people who do such things, I also don't want to hang out with people who laugh when others do them.

And if that makes me a killjoy, so be it.

7 Comments

"Melanie: the girl who told me that she had it on very good authority that drinking caffeinated beverages would be enough to keep you out of the celestial kingdom"

Hmm, Melanie, I could learn a lot from THAT girl. Personally, I think if you eat a *lot* of ice cream, particularly of the chocolate persuasion, you're absolutely destined for an excellent afterlife. :P

Okay, seriously, your questions about vandalism are very interesting and remind me of my discomfort over many reality shows. People would seem to enjoy watching others squirm, etc. And of course, back in the good ol' days, everybody liked a good hangin'.

We want to watch others fall so we’ll feel (for a brief moment) superior??? It's very scary and very creepy, really, that many seem drawn to this sort of "entertainment."

FG

P.S. Glad your pane is in place.

Sounds like exactly how I grew up.

Since I had a kid I see all human behavior as a bid for attention. And how kids do it is by being destructive unless taught differently. It becomes it's own reward of viscious satisfaction after enough time of it not getting parental attention. (Even if the parents never found out...usually starts when little.)

Most people grow out of the mean stupidity in their 30's is the good news.

Oh and it may have been rage against fake smiley mormonism and mormons. I want to stop up utah's toilets all the time myself.

"Oh and it may have been rage against fake smiley mormonism and mormons. I want to stop up utah's toilets all the time myself."

The fake, smiley Mormons were the ones plugging up the toilets. The Pizza Hut franchise in our town was owned by non-Mormons and was a thoroughly "heathen" establishment: it served beer and allowed smoking. But it's not like Melanie and the others were trying to let the PH people know how bad it was to serve beer: they just wanted to be mean.

I will admit that Utah brings out a mean streak in me, too. I try to squelch it, especially when I am actually there (I go once a year, to attend Sunstone and visit my sister in Bountiful), but it's hard not to want to upset the complacency of people who believe they're going to heaven and you're going to hell.

And for the record: I don't believe in either heaven or hell. I think our reward for being good people is that we are good people, not that we get to live somewhere special after we die.

Man, it really got under my skin to live through that window experience with you. I'm so irritated, and I can't WAIT until you clean up those leftover bits between the windows. In fact, I think it will nag at me until you report that it is done...

Frankengirl wrote:

"Personally, I think if you eat a *lot* of ice cream, particularly of the chocolate persuasion, you're absolutely destined for an excellent afterlife."

I've been thinking about this all afternoon--the absolute need for ice cream in any sort of paradise. And since I believe that virtue is its own reward, you may indeed be right that a good way to get there is to eat lots of premium ice cream.

Chris wrote:

"I can't WAIT until you clean up those leftover bits between the windows. In fact, I think it will nag at me until you report that it is done...."

Then you may be uncomfortable for a while, because the weather is just too lousy to attempt it for a while. Will it help at all if I mention that there aren't many bits, and none of them are very big--say, half an inch in diameter or so? It's just that before, the area was completely clean, so it really bugs me to see it in its non-perfect state.

I'm not into ice cream....as a matter of fact, when I do eat it I usually oder the chunky kind and just eat the chunks.

John, OTOH, cannot live w/o ice cream. When John sings me the chorus from the McLachlan song that says "Your love is better than ice cream," well I know that really means something.

Wow, Jana--As someone who also can't live without ice cream, I would be well and truly flattered if someone sang that song to me.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on January 19, 2006 9:09 AM.

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