This is funny to me. Siderea describes asshole filters here. She finds it epiphanic that there are assholes afoot and that you can behave in ways that filter out other people to leave only the assholes. Siderea, baby, hey, yeah, uhm, I’m one of those, one who would be left in with your asshole filter.

Siderea writes of Fred, who produces conferences, and his duplicitous use of a personal and conference e-mail. He asks that for matters related to a conference being produced people use an address set up for the conference. Then, he doesn’t work that e-mail address effectively so it becomes a black hole from which no action is ever taken. He compounds his troubles by revealing to certain favored insiders that they can get him to take action if they use a personal e-mail address and gussy it up with subject headings and introductions which take on a Chicken Little tone.

So . . you can attract assholes to your life and you can attract drama to yourself. This is news? This was worth a blog post and a thread of flattering comments? Wow. Siderea. I am one of those. I am that guy who has been called an asshole.

Lately, because of the mood of some, my letters, WASP, male, over 30, born of upper middle class parents, college educated, deemed privileged, I am ascribed by some as the reason for all their troubles. Whatever it is miserable that befalls them it is my fault. Worse, I am divorced from my wife because I abused her. I was convicted and served time for the two instances of abuse that the courts know about. I am that guy, Siderea, who would be the soon fired thorn in Fred’s side.

Siderea, my name is Alan Webb and I am an asshole. Those that blame me for all their troubles flatter me. It is humbling to hear that I hold such power over their lives. Though, I don’t want the power that they accuse me of having. I got older. I am more than two decades past age 30, when I realized I couldn’t do it like that anymore. I read John Bradshaw, tried AA meetings for a while, went back to church, and slowly tried to make the last night in jail remain the last time. What has worked for me best is to study church history and learn how to emulate Christ as many did in the early centuries of the church before Constantine came to Him. (Actually, of all the assholes ever, Constantine is one of the greatest. You could also argue that Jesus was an asshole to the church of his day. Herod wasn’t too fond of him either.)

Siderea’s post is funny to me. You can absolutely screw yourself by not establishing and enforcing boundaries and rules. Lately, upon return from a temp job that had full-time travel, I’ve got a backlog of personal business to attend to. One bit is my car, which isn’t legal and needs fixing to make it so. When I got home this week I tried to start it and found that the battery had gone flat. The Chicken Little tactic would mean that I’d light up my contact list with some story about a world ending apocalypse if someone didn’t drop everything and devote the next few days to helping me start my car and get it legal. That’s the asshole move.

My friends should, and did, yawn, crack open another Bud Lite and go back to watching “Let’s Make a Deal”. A few more days waiting for the things I need to jump the battery and get the car to a mechanic won’t accomplish the apocalypse I could have suggested. People do that, though. They make it about themselves and narrate the story such that everybody has to jump to attention and deal with whatever misery has befallen them lately. Though, usually, it’s just raining.

Us boomers, who were seduced by the idea that freedom from the rule of law would foster the utopia we sought–to be coddled and protected in a cocoon where we could fuck every woman who passed our way, blast loud music all hours of the day and night, consume food, alcohol, drugs, whatever debauchery flitted into our fancy, and escape all consequences of our bacchanal, we thought we could do this by ignoring the rules and declaring a reborn Eden operated by anarchy. Then we turned 30. Our failing health betrayed us. The string of women we slept with started demanding child support. Our arrest record got long enough that we no longer qualified for drug court or weekend jail. We tried to have our glory rave at 32 the same way we did at 22 and those 19 year olds started to look at us like creepy old men. There are four roads ahead of us, more hospital time, more jail time, another stint in rehab, or death. Except for death, each of these roads can lead to health and a diminished role as an asshole to society. The choice is ours to make and not all of us repent.

Siderea, guess what. The world has assholes in it. Get used to it. God’s creation includes free will, including the will to be an asshole. Because there is free will we can also make choices which push the assholes in this world away from us. A few nights ago I was approaching a street-car station in downtown Dallas, TX. There were a half-dozen street people on the opposite platform. This has all the markers of a potential mugging and a half-day dealing with the cops and maybe the paramedics. If I made my train I’d get to the airport, make my flight and get home on time. If things didn’t go well getting home would get rather expensive and take a lot longer. I’m sure there have been some in my circumstances who did get caught up in a maelstrom and got home days later, much worse for wear. Because I am an asshole, because I have learned to deal with my kind over the years, it was a nervous half-hour on that street-car platform talking to the street people (mostly drunk) and paying a dollar each to two of them. And then my train arrived and I made all my connections, eventually arriving home in the afternoon as scheduled. The trick is to shut down the will to continue to be an asshole. Disrupt the behavior right then. Make it fail. The art is in doing so in ways that preserve the ability to continue the behavior but interferes with the desire to do so. Also, to keep a merciful heart surrendered to God. We are not going away, us assholes. But we can be dealt with in a way that makes things better for everyone.