Yes, the term is a vulgar euphemistic reference to that anatomical part of our bodies though which we eject fecal matter. Given all the crap—no pun intended—that goes into that area, people have been using the term for centuries as a negative euphemism for those they classify as “disagreeable.”
And, virtually ALL of us have used the term in this manner at least once. So, don’t go getting all goody-two-shoes on me.
But, calm down! I’m an asshole, too; we’re ALL assholes. Asshole is a relative term. OUR social allies are OTHER people’s social assholes. Even the late Mother Theresa was an “asshole” to her detractors; and you certainly don’t want to come off like you’re BETTER than she was… DO YOU? I didn’t think so!
So, take heart. Even people who think that they’re NOT assholes, are, indeed, assholes; they’re simply in denial. Since we can’t please everyone, we cannot avoid being assholes. However, we can make sure that we’re competent ones instead of incompetent ones.
And, to this end, I’ve always considered it a title of honor. It takes effort and continued dedication to be a competent asshole.
Competent assholes KNOW that they’re assholes and they’re proud of the fact. Incompetent assholes don’t have a clue that they’re assholes and they get bent all out of shape and defensive at the mere implication. Let’s look at a few examples.
In Delaware (and practically every other state in the nation) drivers may make right turns on red lights unless otherwise posted. Please NOTE that there need NOT be a sign reading that it’s OK to make such a turn. But drivers may NOT turn if there is a sign prohibiting it or modifying the conditions under which they can make the turn.
And, since Delaware permits people to drive, even though they can’t read, the state must rely on signs with both: words and pictures. The words state “No turn on” followed by either an image of a RED arrow pointing to the right or a solid RED circle. The former means NO turn on a RED arrow while the latter means NO turn on a RED light.
Not a day goes by that I—and many others—don’t end up stuck behind drivers waiting for the light to turn green because they have no idea what the above signs mean. It does no good to tap the horn and point to the right because they’ll either point to the sign or give you the finger. And quite often, they’ll do both.
I’ve reached a point where, making sure it’s safe to do so; I simply go around them to make my right turn. Of course, I know that I break the law every time I do this, but I figure the fine for being caught is far less than the potential prison term for aggravated assault.
No matter, though! In that driver’s mind, I’m an “asshole.” And, since I broke the law myself by going “around” and making a right turn anyway, I AM an asshole. But, the other driver is also an asshole. PLUS… he’s stupid for not knowing what the signs mean.
However, there is a difference in the degree of “asshole-ness.” I’m a competent asshole while the other driver is an incompetent one. Here’s why.
At this point, this particular driver gunned his engine and sped out after me! I slowed down while lowering my window. “NO TURN ON RED, ASSHOLE”, he bellowed and sped away talking to himself while tossing me one last bird. I just smiled and kept driving.
“Wow,” I thought, “this guy is not only stupid but vividly upset.” A sense of, well… pride… yes, PRIDE, welled up inside of me to think that I could have this kind of effect on someone I didn’t even know.
And, I can’t even begin to describe the sense of satisfaction I felt when, about a quarter of a mile later, I saw that a Delaware State Trooper had pulled him over for speeding. Dare I even think that a combination of his stupidity and my actions ruined his entire afternoon?
The difference between competent assholes and incompetent assholes boils down to the way in which we assholes react to each other. The former realize the futility of going ballistic. They generally keep their cool and quietly get on with their day. The latter usually go right off the deep end, screaming obscenities and flipping all sorts of vulgar hand gestures.
Competent assholes are secure in their personalities. Their confidence is unwavering. Each day, such people know, almost instinctively, that circumstances will provide them with opportunity after opportunity to demonstrate their competencies in the art of being assholes.
Not a single day goes by that I, along with all of the other competent assholes of the world, fail to be grateful to nature or, if you prefer, God, for the wonderful opportunities to show “our stuff”.
Remember what I wrote above. We’re ALL assholes to others. So, it isn’t a question of whether or not you are one, too. The fact is that you are. The question is whether you are a competent asshole or an incompetent asshole.
Competent assholes are naturals at eliciting highly emotional responses over generally benign behavior, complete with obscene gestures and the popping of cranial blood vessels. Incompetent assholes are ALWAYS reactionary to whatever competent assholes have done or said.
The next time you are driving down I-95 and accidentally cut someone off, keep your cool. All you can do is be glad that it didn’t cause an accident and try to let the other driver know that YOU know that YOU messed up. Regardless, though, you can’t control the actions of the other driver.
And, if that other driver insists on passing you, ranting and raving while giving you the finger, just smile and keep on truckin’. Be proud of yourself. You’re an asshole but you’re a competent one. The other driver’s an asshole as well, but an INCOMPETENT one. Reaction style tells it all.
Ignorance is bliss. Remember this the next time you’re at checkout trying to find a penny (in that bottomless pit you call a purse) to make EXACT change. And, don’t let the fact that you have NO cash on you to pay a $4.95 grocery tab upset you.
Just take a few MORE minutes to find your checkbook—if you have it with you—and write a check. Oh, and don’t forget to update the check register while you’re at it.
The important thing is to keep smiling and ignore all those impatient, sneering dweebs behind you. Let them stew. If you look closely, you can actually see the veins in their temples throbbing! Talk about entertainment!
Just finish your business, thank the cashier, and toss a big smile to the others as you calmly walk out of the store. Yes, you’re an asshole, but you’ve remained civil about it. You’re the competent one! Be proud. Without even knowing these people, look at the stress you’ve caused them.
Write this 1,000 times. “Competent assholes are proactive; incompetent assholes are reactive.” Got it? No matter what we do, others are going to classify us as assholes. We owe it to ourselves to be, if not the best at it, certainly competent at it. Now get out there and drum up some stress!
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.