The thing about jealousy is that it passes the time really well. On any given day, I'll wait for buses, make coffee, slowly tread on a mill, and pass the work day being a jealous monster. My Dream should, I suppose, be to eliminate jealousy in my life, or realize the folly of envy, or some crap like that, but if I didn't have jealousy, I'd have to use other methods to fall asleep like reading, and reading is for chumps.
The current champ of my James Jealousy Battle Royale is Neil Pasricha. You might not know his name, but you surely know his blog, or the book that came from that blog, or the second book that came from the first, or the third from the second, and so on. He's the optimistic genius behind The Book of Awesome, The Book of Even More Awesome and The Book of Holiday Awesome. These are the books that list random things that are awesome, like, “Putting on underwear fresh from the dryer” or “Mastering the art of an all-you-can-eat buffet.” I hate that I'm jealous of such a happy, uplifting phenomenon. I'm pro-positivity, I like the bright side, but Mr. Pasricha's prominent positions on best-seller lists make me a sulky, pouting, dark side baby.
Dream: Duplicate the success of Mr. Pasricha and others like him.
Goal: Achievable. Do they even make real books anymore? If I had a dollar for every blog-based book I've bought, I'd still be pretty far in the hole because those books cost more than a dollar. So the trick seems to be to find a hook which is popular enough to encourage visitors to your blog, so it gets optioned for a book, which sells a million copies. The trouble is finding that original, clever, enticing hook, but I think I've got it.
Plan: Blatantly parody Mr. Pasricha by marketing the inverse of his idea. As much as people delight in Awesome, don't most of us live in perpetual “Aw, fuck”? Consider below my pitch for The Book of Aw, Fuck, The Book of Even More Aw, Fuck, and The Book of Holiday Aw, Fuck.
- You arrive at the open door of a bus just as it closes and pulls away. (Aw, fuck!)
- You buy a thing of milk and open the fridge to a ¾ full thing of milk. (Aw, fuck!)
- You leave your apartment with the windows open on a hot day and it rains while you're at the movies. (You get the idea here)
- You put all your small change into a vending machine and you're a nickel short and your coworkers are assholes.
- You're talking shit about Todd when you suddenly notice Todd out of the corner of your eye.
- Your friend's cat dies and you have to determine some kind of sensitive response.
- Someone decides to “let you” read their poetry.
- No toilet paper.
- Forgetting your lunch.
- Remembering halfway through a cartwheel that you don't know how to cartwheel.
- A concert or play which requires audience participation.
- Theme parties
- Watching the same commercial twice in a row.
- Receiving an emoticon-laced email from an adult.
- Butter that's still too cold to be spread and leaves your toasts with gross butter chunks.
- The fire alarm going off in your building for no reason.
- The fire alarm going off in your building for a reason.
- Hearing that “Wavin' Flag” song.
- A carbonated beverage explodes all over you.
- Realizing that bad smell is probably you.
- Your voicemail picks up the phone just before you answer it.
- Taking an early morning flight.
- Buffering, please wait.
- Relentless “Simpsons” quoters, worsened only by the fact that they get the quotes consistently wrong.
- Tuning in for an SNL that relies too heavily on Keenan.
- A group of people singing Happy Birthday to you. I never know what to do, just look at them?
- The consistent misuse of “hopefully.”
- Finding something in your teeth hours after eating anything.
- Having to go up a jean size.
- Everyone has seen a movie except for you and they talk about it the entire evening.
- Reaching the middle of a story to realize it's uninteresting and no one cares but having to finish it because you can't just stop.
- Not hearing what someone says, nodding at them anyway, getting caught.
- Splitting the bill equally when you ordered way less than everyone else.
- An obvious wipeout in a public place.
- The success of a stranger feels like blatant betrayal despite all evidence to the contrary.
Reading this back, it almost looks like I complain a lot. If pressed, I would concede that I might complain a lot, perhaps unnecessarily, but don't we all? I don't have a great deal of patience for consistent whiners, those always down-trodden, woe-is-me types who are so focused on the negative that even a genuinely positive experience is uncomfortable for them because it's unfamiliar. But the “half-full” types get my goat sometimes, too. If we're always happy in every circumstance, what's our incentive to work hard? To change? To strive for something better? I'm happy with a lot of things in my life, but the possibility of greater happiness through greater fulfillment and satisfaction keeps me from getting too excited about a hot shower or a cold pillow. If my jealous of Neil Pasricha gets me working harder, where's the aw, fuck in that? Seems pretty awesome to me.