Saturday, April 11, 2009

Guided by the Dark Side

I’m not a geneticist. But I’m pretty sure they’ve got a gene for everything. So, it’s hard for me not to feel somewhat pre-disposed to the 14% of my genetic material that makes up what I call my Pure Evil.

I’m 14% pure evil. Of that total, 3% is devoted to schadenfreude, the delight in other people’s misfortunes, 6% is devoted to my desire to seek personal pleasure, state by-laws be damned. 34% is devoted entirely to self-pity and its manifestations and the remaining 57% is a free-floating evil that can alight at any moment, coating my emotional terrain with a light dusting of negativity and general clumsiness of character. The rest of me, the other 86%, is happy and warm, but that tiny percentage can really get in the way.

Here are some evil thoughts I’ve had only today: That I’d like to take the Department of Motor Vehicles and insert it in some unsuspecting congressman’s rectum. I thought about taking all the dirty dishes out of the sink and smashing them on the driveway. It’s only 10 AM, so it’s early yet. I thought about throwing my cell phone under the wheels of my mini-van. I thought long and hard about buying a pack of cigarettes. I had bad thoughts about Christians, my tenants, Target and the PTA. Is there a rosary non-believers can recite to abolish their surliness? I’d finger it.

I think people should talk about their evil more, and I’m on a campaign to get people to do it. I have a friend who has a website devoted to finding out what’s “working” in people’s lives, their “beautiful things”. I think this is a terrific idea, and I contribute to the sight when my 86% is behind the wheel. But I think equally valuable would be a web site where people could really excavate their evil and give it voice.

I live in a community where secrets are kept. Where its inhabitants believe in putting their best face forward. They hide their drinking problems and depression behind a lot of flagrant consumerism and over-gifting. They suppress with cookie-exchanges what could be so handily purged with some foul language and a joint. I’m always searching to find the women who are crying in the parking lots of their life. The ones who yell a little too loud, swear too much and eat exotically. My world is filled with store bought dip and people too busy to read. I had to start a book club so I could collect, like rare orchids, the few people willing to read books and talk about them. I’ve had some bad thoughts about those non-readers, their holiday cards and their secrets.

My Evil, though small, takes many shapes. When I enter my son’s school gym for pick-up I am always, always, the least bathed person there. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t have good sweaters. I don’t want to bake anything for the school and I often resent being asked. I’m not a joiner, though I long for community. I do my part, but I bitch about it to myself in a muttering way as I shake colored sprinkles on the cookie tops. Statistically, there must be other bitter women shaking their colored jimmy jars like hostile maracas, but they don’t reveal themselves to me. I fear I’m completely alone here.

I have an evil past, and it pollutes my polite present. After I lost my virginity in high school, at a liberal boarding school where students were allowed to wear capes and top hats to class, I had sex with everyone. Dozens of guys and one woman. After I tried pot, I smoked it for the next twenty-five years, right up until, oh, say, yesterday. I tried a litany of drugs and not just the cute ones. Dangerous ones. Scary ones. It’s not that I’m proud of these events, but they are my facts, and I don’t regret them. Besides, no amount of polite conversation will negate them. I can’t wipe the slate clean with agitated passes of my credit card. I can’t replace my past with presents.

Sometimes when my husband asks a favor of me I blow a giant lip fart at him and tell him to go fuck himself. Sometimes when my kids leave their crap on the floor in a heap for the ten-thousandth time, I ball it all up and stuff it under their bed. That’s what I mean by free-floating evil. I don’t know where it comes from, but as a mediocre man once said, “whoops, there it is”. What do you want me to do about it? I’m through with therapy. Come out the other side of some terrible stuff. This is what I’m left with.


  1. oh my God, Jess Schickel. Who is your agent? When IS the book coming out?

  2. Holy shit... this is the stuff.

  3. Thanks for reminding me why I am so lucky to have escaped CF! I moved there from Boston mid-sophomore year and thought I had moved into an alternate universe. Luckily my parents allotted many trips back to Boston/NY so I could keep myself sane and in touch with the real world.

  4. Wow, you are a great writer! And I am behind you 120%. I'd always prefer to be around someone who is down with their dark side, so to speak, than someone who needs to seem pleasant at all costs.

    And by the way, I don't think that not taking a shower before you pick your son up at school is a manifestation of any kind of evil.

  5. oh my. shaking the the jimmy jar like hostile maracas. I don't even know what to do with myself. I am beside myself with Jessie Schickel love.
    I second what Jen said.

  6. As a person who shares much of your genetic material, I can confirm the evil. Much of that evil has taken the upper hand recently. I am so grateful to you for shining the light of hilarity on our terrible spiritual deformity. Perhaps now we can get to work on a cure!

  7. My God you're a good writer. Please get that into the New Yorker.


  8. The most brilliant essay ever! It demands to be read once a day, every day. Love the blog, Miss Jessica. Keep these coming!