inessential by Brent Simmons


Sometimes I wish that everyone on the net was at least 40 years old—or 60, better yet—so they were past that age of earnest self-righteousness. It’s boring and unattractive.

It’s in me too, and, you know what, I loathe it. It’s one of the worst things about being a (relatively, in my case) young man, that inner conviction of rightness. Ugh, so slimy. It just wells up, like some kind of irresistible biochemical event. The enemy of poetry.

The sad fact of biology is that every young man has the heart of a cop.

If you look, you’ll see it everywhere. (Here too.)

When I was a boy I was very hot-tempered. I was known for it.

Once, in middle school, another boy made fun of me. So I picked up a chair and tried to break it on his back, like in the movies.

I swung it like a baseball bat, like I was Mike Schmidt and I was swinging for the fences.

The chair didn’t break. School chairs don’t break, the way they’re bolted together, the way they’re made of plastic and metal.

The boy went down, flat on his face. He was bigger and stronger than I was, but I nailed him. The element of surprise was on my side.

We both got into trouble, we both got paddled by the principal.

Violence works. He never made fun of me again, and I never hit anybody with a chair again.

I still remember the feeling of when the chair connected to his back. I remember how it felt to watch him go down. It felt good, real good.

Perversely, it’s a memory I treasure, in part because I learned then that I must not and will not ever do anything like that ever again.

I am not a hot-tempered adult.

What if passionate, idealistic young men ruled? Wouldn’t you get a more fair society?

Actually, we tried this once—it’s called the Middle Ages.