The Evolution of the Asshole: Pt. I

I’ve had the quiet pleasure of knowing many an Asshole in my days, and from time to time have been labeled one myself. Earlier this week I was hanging out at the park, trading belts of whiskey from my flask with my 5-year-old nephew Finn and pointing out to him the attributes of Assholes amongst the kids on the play structure.  He’s too young to show how to throw a curveball, he has no interest in alt-country, and he finds my writing derivative of early Hunter S. Thompson, so this is the only gift I have to share with him. And as I told Finny why the kid with the bowl cut was trouble, and how from time to time certain girls can be icky, and what happens when he’s rubber, and some little prick is glue, it occurred to me that it was time that I had a more in-depth look at the Asshole.

I’m not sure when I met my first Asshole, and I’m sure I was blissfully unaware of it at the time. Perhaps it was my kindergarten 4 teacher, Mrs. Cadieux, who told my parents I may be retarded (her word, not mine, I’m not being an insensitive Asshole) because I couldn’t jump. She said that I’d just swing my arms upwards, yet my feet would remain firmly planted on the ground. Turns out Mrs. Cadiuex had mental problems, though I never have had much of a vertical.

I don’t believe you become acutely aware of Assholes until you’re about 10 or 11 years old, right about the time the word itself becomes an important part of your vernacular’s arsenal. Around that time, it’s likely a schoolyard bully or the smartass teenager who works at the corner store. More than likely, and in retrospect, it’s a close friend who’s an Asshole. When you enter your teens, it’s all Assholes. You, in particular, are the worst offender. Ask your parents, they know what I’m talking about.

Right around that time you are introduced to alcohol, the great Asshole enhancer, and things go full Asshole for a few years. At some point, you’ll need to get a job to pay for the booze so that your teen years and early 20s maintain a certain level of Assholedom. This is where you’ll meet the Asshole of Assholes, your boss. I’ve worked for some Assholes, Assholes who make other Assholes look like Santa Claus, and I have the court records to prove it. Then of course comes university, where Assholes are bred. Jocks, Profs, TAs, people who go to McGill, and certainly grad students, about whom I’ve written previously.

When you decide to become a writer, you invite a certain amount of Assholes into your life. Other writers make up the largest part of this demographic, in particular poets and spoken word artists. Inevitably you publish, which introduces you to the Reviewer, not an Asshole by nature, but an Asshole nonetheless. They’re part critic, part ad copy writer, part failed something, and all judgment.

Of course, the internet bred a whole new kind of Asshole. Hell, part of my inspiration to write this piece was so that from now on whenever some googles my name and “Asshole” they’ll end up here, which is totally self-serving and makes me a bit of an Asshole. I’ve been called worse than an Asshole online. One woman called me a “misogynist who runs a harem of interns” which hurt because, one, it wasn’t true, and two, my mother read it. This was on Facebook, where the Asshole has burrowed in and found a home for eternity. And now through the advent of the Facebook timeline, we can trace the evolution of many an Asshole, which in and of itself was encouragement enough to write a series of pieces on the evolution of the Asshole. It aims to be an organic discussion of the Asshole, where the Asshole came from, where the Asshole is now, and where the Asshole plans on going in the future. (My money is on Russia, but I’ve got some inside information.) From time to time I may even invite some peers to add to the discussion, expand the breadth of my understanding of the Asshole. I know, it’s an ambitious project, but given the wealth of my experience with Assholes, I feel it’s important to share, to give, to perhaps create a whole new discipline of Asshole academia, or perhaps just come across as an Asshole.

First, it is important that we establish a common definition of Asshole. The Oxford English Dictionary, appropriately the official dictionary of Assholes, describes the Asshole as “a stupid, irritating, or contemptible person.” Wiktionary, the official dictionary of the lazy Asshole goes further: “A jerk; an inappropriately or objectionably mean, inconsiderate, contemptible, obnoxious, intrusive, or rude person.” For the purposes of this argument, I’d like to wrap these two definitions in a cardigan of righteousness and outfit it with an ironic moustache. Within all likelihood, its favourite music is electro-synth pop. It likes a band you’ve never heard of. It is not evil, per se.

The Asshole is as old as the universe itself, of course, and I would imagine that just after the Big Bang, one organism was a total dick to another organism. And it would not surprise me to discover that the Pachyrhinosaurus was well known for belittling other ceratopsid purely on the basis of subtle differences. And dinosaurs begat fossil fuels which begat oil which begat a whole slew of Assholedom. With the research involved it would be difficult to trace the entirety of the evolution of the Asshole, especially following the departure of my interns after they found a copy of my MA thesis: “Why You Should Never Ever Ever for Any Reason Be An Intern: Getting Paid for Work in the Arts.”  And even though I am a recovering aetheist, for the purposes of this argument I believe it is best if we follow a biblical lineage.

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