I couldn’t stop saying the word douchebag. It was Grammy night, and we were watching the telecast, and I was was becoming tired of hearing the same word over and over coming out of my own mouth. But the word felt so appropriate. What if I had been forced to explain my sentiments without bearing all my weight on the crutch of that word? I don’t know if I could have managed. “That old guy up there, the one who was in the most famous band of the 20th century, there’s something about the look on his face, it’s like he thinks he is marvelous. It’s like he is certain that we all adore him and he is guzzling our adoration like a thirsty plant. It’s like he’s pooping his pants while he’s singing and he’s confident we are going to clean his butt. Blech.”
No doubt there are people out there who might want to use the word on me. Putting yourself into a position where people have the opportunity to look at you long enough to make a judgement invites the possibility of being judged, and potentially being judged a douche. I find myself having the urge to describe someone with the aforementioned word when they seem somehow clueless about themselves and their own importance. It’s something about a person not being able to see themselves clearly, and in their lack of perspective judging themselves a little too well. But what a slippery thing, perspective. Can you ever be certain that you really have it?
A friend of mine knows a guy who gives fancy private art classes in Manhattan. The art teacher guy let my friend sit in on a few small group drawing sessions, and one of the attendees was a very well-known former model and television star. One day they did self portraits, and each artist had a mirror set up next to their easel. My friend said she noticed that when the television star looked at herself in the mirror she pursed her lips and aimed her nose slightly downwards, as if the mirror were a camera and she was going to kiss it. Looking in a mirror in order to make a self portrait is a different sort of looking than one usually does with a mirror; the aim with a self portrait is to honestly reproduce your own image. Typical mirror-looking tends to be about making an improvement on what you find in the reflection. It would seem that the former model had gotten the idea that the lip purse and nose tilt improved her image. I suppose that, in a way, she was being honest about the fact that when she looks into a mirror that is the face that she sees.
It seems almost impossible to both be oneself and to see oneself. I guess that it’s this exact conundrum, these fluctuating layers of awareness and our efforts to understand what the hell we are doing and why, that make human beings interesting. It seems that the real danger of becoming a douchebag comes when someone stops worrying that they might seem like a douchebag. The people who I want to use the term on are people who appear to have stopped looking very searchingly at themselves. And it feels so serendipitous that “douchebag” is the term that was adapted for this definition. Some slurs are fun to say, but I try to avoid them because I don’t think that the word should actually be linked to something negative. I try to avoid, for example: “Pansy-ass” (because gay-boy anal sex is a beautiful thing), “cunt”, “cocksucker.” I suppose that “dick” doesn’t necessarily deserve to be used derogatorily, but I find it so useful I can’t bear to give it up, so how about let’s allow “twat” as well to make it fair. But a douchebag is something which deserves degradation to begin with. It’s not healthy for ladies to swish cleansers up in the hoo-ha. So let’s keep on using the term and carry on reminding each other not to buy into our illusions about ourselves. But let’s deliver the judgements with as much grace as possible, and try to avoid coming off like total assholes (I’m still pretty on the fence about that one).