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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Friday, June 8, 2007   |    Fiction

Why You Will Like Me, Probably

by Nathan Thornton

How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleGood afternoon.

Of course, I realize that you could be reading this at any time of the day, but I’m wagering that it is indeed afternoon. If I’m wrong, so be it, but I’m the kind of person who always takes a firm stand on things, starting with the bold assertion of the introductory sentence. This sort of take-the-reigns, stand-your-ground, believe-in-yourself attitude is the first of many things that I think you will like about me, probably.

You and I have never met, am I correct? This may sound like the opening line of patter for a feat of mesmerism or a sleight-of-hand maneuver, but it’s merely an opening salvo to establish whether or not you need to forge on. If we have not met, I urge you to read the balance of this primer to gauge my probable likeability. And if we have met, then I suppose you already know.

Now, let me ask you, as you read that last bit, did you pronounce “primer” to sound like “dimmer” or “timer”? I’m fine with either way, to tell you the truth, but I always pronounce it like “dimmer.” I like the air of authority it seems to lend. When you make it rhyme with “timer,” it reminds me of a first coat of paint, and I figure why sound like a handyman or auto mechanic if you can avoid it, right? Not that I would ever pass judgment about anyone with either of these two professions, but I do know where I stand in relation to them. Now, don’t you think you’d like someone who is mindful of things like that?

Secondly, whenever I’m finished drinking a bottle of soda or water, I always replace the cap before throwing it away. It’s a small thing, I know—it’s just as easy to throw away cap and bottle in one sweeping, clumsy cascade, but I always take the extra effort to return the two pieces to equilibrium. A lot of people wouldn’t, you know. Now if I care that much about garbage, think how much I must care about other, more important things.

For instance, my whole life, I’ve never really liked coleslaw. Never cared for the taste of it and never liked the uneasy combination of creamy and crunchy that always takes me by surprise. But every single year, I make it a point to try coleslaw again. I clear my mind, close my eyes, and gobble down a spoonful or two. Each time I eat it, it is newly confirmed that, yes indeedy, I continue to dislike coleslaw. But did you notice that I was always willing to give it a second chance? Can you see how well this feature of my personality would translate to a friendship situation? As in, I would always give a friend a second chance, maybe? Food for thought.

Oh, and you’ll love this, particularly if you love to laugh and have a good time, but also learn something about yourself at the same time. One time, my friend Hawthorne (who’s been my friend since we were in the eighth grade together, which I think says a lot) and I were having lunch at one of those places that mostly sells ice cream cones and milkshakes, but also has hot dogs and chicken sandwiches available, just less heavily promoted. Hawthorne says to me, “I thought this was just an ice cream place, not a full-service restaurant. And boy howdy, this patty melt is scrumptious!” To which I replied, “Not all of life’s treats are cold. Patties need not be frozen to melt.” Refreshingly cryptic homespun homilies that bring new light to the situation at hand are my stock in trade. Imagine getting one of those beauties every single day! (Now, am I referring to the pithy wisdom or the delicious cheeseburger? See, I’m like this all the time!)

This might sum things up nicely. When I was eleven years old, my mother told me that I could have anything I wanted for my birthday. We were rather affluent, so I knew that I could ask for just about anything in the world, even ridiculous, imaginary, or impossible-to-find items like a crystal vial of unicorn tears or the stick-shifter knob from The General Lee. But I didn’t. I thought about it, then asked my mom for every Masters of the Universe figure that was available at the time with the exception of Flying Fists He-Man. She told me that I could have Flying Fists He-Man also, if I wanted, but I told her no. You see, I already had regular He-Man, and to have another He-Man who was exactly the same except with a totally queer-looking metallic silver chest plate and some lame spinning shield things seemed unnecessary and superfluous to me. I don’t need every toy ever made, I explained. Let some other deserving, but less fortunate little boy have it. I’m happy with the toys I already have and am going to get. A pretty selfless thought for an eleven-year-old, wouldn’t you say? I have literally a thousand stories just like this.

Allow me to leave you with this final point: I have never raised my hand to another person in anger. To me, that’s unforgivable and barbaric. If someone does something to raise my ire, I take a long calming breath and physically will myself not to strike them about the face, neck, and genitals. I would never stoop to that level. I feel that it’s every bit as satisfying to systematically break my opponent down by launching a multistage psychological assault of criticizing them to shared acquaintances, spreading half-truths and lies that paint them in a negative light, drawing childish sketches of them with exaggerated reproductive organs then leaving them at public parks, and putting hot sauce in their food when they’re not looking. I’m not the kind of person who would ever cause a person (you) physical harm. That’s a promise.

I think you’ll find that I’ve laid out a pretty compelling case. You’d be hard-pressed to find any reason why you wouldn’t like me. You probably like me already. Even if you’re a total fucking douchebag.

Nathan Thornton lives, eats and sleeps in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes hilarious bios to accompany humor pieces, then shakes his head, reconsiders, and decides to play it straight. His work has appeared in a couple of other places, but he doesn’t like to make a big deal about it. And although he refers to himself in the third person, Nathan Thornton is me.