I Hate My Stupid Whatever

if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, try constantly complaining

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Beth Czech

Here’s my promise to you: I won’t waste a single paragraph’s worth of well-crafted sentences complaining about the weather. It’s the least I can do for all you people out there who don’t give a damn about some random guy’s opinion on that we cannot control.

However, I will gladly complain about other things.

Somehow, the mere act of acknowledging (out loud) that something bothers me eases my mind.

Like the hood on my winter jacket, which is nice to have when you didn’t realize how cold it is outside, and thus left your brand-new stocking cap that your wife knit for you (with love) sitting inside with the other hats and gloves. It’s a perfect thing to have then. But on days when you’re shoveling the driveway and you did wear your new hat, the hood on my winter jacket goes from helpful to hellish.

Let’s say the wind is kicking up and the freezing rain is flying sideways and the aforementioned hat is just not cutting it, so you flip up the ol’ hood, assuming you are now living the sweet life. But as you shovel, that hood just keeps rubbing the back of your head, pushing your new hat up over the top of your head and down onto your eyes, over and over and over. So now you’re shoveling blind, slipping on the icy patches, tossing snow willy-nilly like some kind of amateur, and cursing the Gods of Winter for their cruel, hideous jest.

Thanks for listening, I feel better now.

What’s that you ask? Why do I spend time complaining about my cold-weather clothing instead of, like, fixing it? Great question! It’s kind of like when a 24-year-old telemarketer complains about how there’s nothing to do around here when their idea of “doing something” is driving out to the mall four times a week to eat at T.G. AppleGardens Company.

In short, I just like to complain about stuff.

In fact, scientists have spent years unraveling the mysteries of my complaint-based psychosis, and they’ve recently made some startling breakthroughs. Their theory: Complaining makes me feel good for a short amount of time.

Somehow, the mere act of acknowledging (out loud) that something bothers me eases my mind. That’s normal, right? I do it all the time. My wife and most my friends, upon hearing my (elegantly worded and totally justified) complaints, will usually offer advice on how to fix whatever it is I’m ranting about. That’s so sweet. And also frustrating. Because I’m not actually looking to fix anything. I just want to make myself feel better through the time-honored art of whining like a big, fat, whiney baby whiner.

I don’t want to a solution to my problems. I flee from solutions.

Part of me suspects the beloved people around me don’t enjoy regular visits from Mr. Grumble Shorts. I may need to look into that.

I also suspect that I’m really not all that frustrated with my hood, but perhaps feeling guilty about how I put off shoveling for too long, and now clearing the driveway is a much harder, heavier chore. I may need to look into that, as well.

I know my life would have fewer stomachaches, less anxiety, and more happy moments if I’d just shut up and do something useful with the time I spend complaining, but that would mean leaping from the cushy goodness of my comfort zone. And I just don’t do that.

Of course, more than anything, I like to complain about myself. And that makes all of this OK, right?

Right.

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