rational, regulated, justifiable

hate

Sure, it can be fun. Dede, for instance, is a terrific hater. Her favorite verb is “hate.” I hate winter. I hate the Falcons (not just this year). I hate this sink. I hate all the fiction in The New Yorker. But none of this hating amounts to anything. It’s just her vivacious way of expressing herself.

My guess is that most of us take our hating a little more seriously, a little more warily. We’ve seen the power and the glory, you might say. I hated a guy I was in graduate school with. No reason. I just did. And I mean I really did. Hated his clothes, his hair, his voice, his face, his walk—maybe especially his walk, since our entire relationship consisted of occasionally passing one another in the hallway. I absolutely loved hating this guy. Why? The dark god was speaking to me, telling me how beautiful I was.

I’ve probably failed to convey just how harrowing this experience was. But, then, who hasn’t been there? What we all have to learn is how to manage our hating.

Me, for example—I’m trying to be careful about how much I hate the process of “logging in.” I hate it, certainly, just as I hate the words, “your account.” And it’s not just because I’m less than perfect at keeping track of my passwords. (Really, really hate passwords.) It’s because I don’t want to log in. I don’t want to have an account. I don’t want to come up with another goddamn password. I’m sixty-six years old, and I just want to do what I want to do without having to do a thousand other goddamn things first.

But you see how I’m managing. This is rational, well-regulated, and justifiable hating. Just never assume that it’s over, that you’ve won. A thousand times a day I hear her sweet whisper: Throw it, John, throw it! You don’t have to be a wienie-butt all your life. But that would be irrational, my better self reminds me, especially since I would have to drive straight to Staples and get a new one. It won’t happen. I’m good.

We all have things we hate — airline travel, the Aflac duck, Atlanta traffic (still in the A’s, you notice)… But let’s don’t hate ourselves for hating these things. This kind of hating is doable. Who doesn’t resent the tedium and indignity of the airport security line? Who hasn’t wanted to hurt people who have 40 things to put in the overhead bins? Who doesn’t despise the corporate thugs that designed the spine-killing seats and then crammed them on top of one another? Or felt the old blood pressure spike at having to breathe the toxic air circulating and recirculating throughout the cabin? The important thing to remember is that you are experiencing — and therefore releasing — these feelings in a safe environment: a pressurized cabin 35,000 feet above the ground.

Full disclosure. There’s one thing in my life I hate without control, and it’s probably destroying me. It’s an evil that affords such pleasure that all the rage and frustration I endure in its pursuit are suddenly forgotten. Then I realize that the rage and frustration are sniggering behind my back. It’s a siren that calls me to make the same mistakes, over and over again, day after day, week after week, year after year. When I do make these mistakes, she laughs at me and humiliates me in my anguish. The more I hate, of course, the more it holds me in thrall.

Here’s what worries me: That when my last day is done, the author of my obituary will choose to overlook all of my remarkable achievements but will record instead for all posterity that “he loved ****.”

Man. I’m really gonna hate that.

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Image: Created by Mayank Bhatnagar of GraphicReflections.org and used under a Creative Commons license.
John Yow

John Yow

John Yow has written two books about birds, both published by UNC Press: The Armchair Birder: Discovering the Secret Lives of Familiar Birds (2009) and The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal: The Secret Lives of Birds of the Southeastern Shore (2012). His blog, "From Pumpkinvine Creek" (frompumpkinvinecreek.blogtspot.com) is generally concerned with the fate that awaits birds and all other species if we don't stop trashing the planet. Yow and his wife Dede live in the woods in northeast Paulding County.