Sunday, October 7, 2012

Her Snark is Worse than Her Bite

Recently on Facebook, I came across a personality test that determines what animal you are, based on psychological traits. I tried the quiz, of course, but I'm somewhat skeptical of its claim that I am a dog. I mean, first of all, how many dogs do you know who have gotten through Columbia? ZE-RO, that's how many - and with good reason, namely, Columbia discriminates against dogs. Their so-called diversity initiatives are a laughable FICTION.

Furthermore, not to speak ill of dogs, but psychologically they are not, shall we say, the most complicated critters in nature. Scientists agree that dogs rank, in terms of psychological complexity, just below amoebas and above Olympic swimmers. Oh sure, some dogs, such as Siberian huskies, give the impression of psychological complexity, but it is all just a fa├žade. They may look all noble and complicated and intense, but beneath it all, what they are thinking basically boils down to one thought: "I wish to lick my own crotch."*

So as you can imagine, I'm a little ticked off by this result, despite being a big fan of the species (with the exception of little demon weenie mutant-rodent imitation-canine breeds with names like "winkie-poo," which Mother Nature clearly thought would be hilarious to create after consuming one too many schnapps). Now if I had gotten to pick my test results, I would have picked the parrot, or personality type ENTP. The test describes the ENTP/parrot individual as follows: "ENTPs prize intelligence and competence [...] They are often described as witty, clever, cerebral, and resourceful. They are verbally inclined and they often have a perverse sense of humor [...] They sometimes chatter."

See, I would be totally OK with being a parrot! I would even be OK with being a petting zoo parrot because you could deposit guano on whoever deserved it, or else just when the moment carried you. 

But frankly, I don't think we can compare humans to animals. Just think about the depth of humanity. When you are standing on a crowded subway platform at rush hour, you are surrounded by a diverse medley of individuals of such infinite psychological nuance and depth that, if you could somehow see into the entirety of the psyche of just one of these individuals, you would be totally grossed out. Because of course humans are disgusting. This is evidenced by the variety of porn sites out there. I mean, not that I would know anything about these sites personally, but I am told there is a vast wealth of pornographic media on the Internet (I am told there is an Internet), and word has it this media runs the gamut from straight to gay to robot to meerkat to flatworm.** Say it with me: our generation is SO spoiled.

Nevertheless, I can't say I care for the animal personality test, which doesn't take into account the nitty-gritty everyday life details of the individual. So here is my own, holistic*** quiz, designed with the true essence of a person's inner, primal animality in mind:


The ultimate pizza topping would be:
1. Seeds
2. Science Diet
3. My young

My species' natural enemy is:
1. Cat
2. Coyote
3. Wolf Blitzer

Complete this sentence: Humans' best quality is their ______
1. Companionship
2. Body warmth at night 
3. Tasty femurs

When confronted with a child fallen down a well, I will:
1. Run to get help from the farm family
2. Continue engaging in personal hygiene as though nothing has happened
3. Cough a hairball down the well after the child

My instinctive reaction upon meeting others is:
1. Sniff butts
2. Exchange business cards
3. Sniff butts while exchanging business cards

Now, you can score yourself as follows: did you pick mostly "A's," mostly "B's" or mostly "C's?" In all three cases, the result is the same: you are a doofus, because the answers are labelled 1-2-3.

And ultimately, let's face it, does it really matter what animal you are in your psyche? Because, be you moose or fox or Arctic Tern, there is one common, fundamental trait that defines us all: every last one of us - from the mightiest world leader to the lowliest "Belchin' Beulah"-brand soft drink distributor**** - truly believes, from the bottom of his heart, that his life is WAY more interesting than anyone else thinks.

Except for me. My life is fascinating. Speaking of which, if you'll excuse me, I have this urge to go eat out of the garbage.

*But aside from this they are very different from the presidential candidates.
**Flatworm porn mainstay: video of a single flatworm dividing and dividing and dividing.
***Meaning, "written in six minutes while mostly thinking about eating a bagel."
****Serving vending machine districts 883, 884 and 886, but not 885 (except weekends).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Grime Time

I have an entertaining and wonderful variety of friends, each of whom keeps me attuned to certain aspects of life. For example, my friend Yamila keeps me attuned to filth. Unlike myself, she is a self-proclaimed "germophobe" with an uncanny ability to remain aware of dirt in the city. This is no mean feat, comparable to remaining aware of all the air molecules around you. It's impressive.

"NICOLA! Don't put that THERE," she will exclaim as I reach down, happily, to place my handbag on an urban surface teeming with bacteria so severe that many of them are visibly leaping, prowling, bucking, forming amateur Gilbert and Sullivan societies, etc. So I jerk my bag away, as if I've suddenly noticed the offending filth. But the fact is, I don't notice. I'm sadly inured to urban bacteria. But the point is, she notices, and I am grateful for it.

I don't understand why the discrepancy. I do, however, believe that many of us were desensitized to germs in early childhood. Many of us pictured them as gentle nonthreatening cartoon beings who came in cheerful colors. At least I know I did:

No dice, friends. Have you ever stopped to consider the magnitude of even a single bacterium? Let's consider these horrifying pictures:

Magnified 10,000x


So we can see that one lone germ does pose us a very real threat, and we haven't even gotten into the matter of its other four boroughs. Wasn't this all so much easier when we were kids? Back then, germs invaded our bodies on a near-daily basis in the form of violent comical ear infections, and we never cared. It just meant an opportunity to go to the Ear Infection Clearinghouse (aka Pediatric Group) with 10,000 of our contemporaries, all of whom, at any given moment, were shrieking. Not because they were ill, mind you, but rather because we were all fighting for control of the waiting room's main attraction, a Pac-Man video game machine with a vile smeary screen from which we would pick up yet other varieties of ear infection.* It was the Circle of Ear Infection Life (cue the soulful wailings of Elton John). Then the pediatrician would prescribe you Amoxicillin; it is federal law that pediatricians must prescribe Amoxicillin for everything from vertigo to shattered ribs. Fortunately, Amoxicillin is awesome, and to this day I retain a certain fondness for it - so much so that I would request it in bubble tea form, if it were an option.**

Anyway, sadly, as we get older we are forced to become more and more aware of germs' impact on our lives. This is why Mother Nature, who has a sadistic sense of humor, invented universities. This brings me, by way of seamless segue, to an article which came to my attention some weeks ago. Written by Donna Duberg for the Tork Better Business Center, its headline boldly asks: ARE COLLEGE STUDENTS' HYGIENE HABITS MAKING THE GRADE?

This was definitely news to me. I don't mean the article, you understand, but the question. I honestly didn't think anyone needed to ask this. I had always assumed it was universally known that college students, as a species, rank on the Hygiene Totem Pole somewhere down there near tapeworms, only with lower breeding standards. I mean, even tapeworms don't date tapeworms. If you are out at a bar and see what looks like a cute tapeworm couple out on a nice date, chances are they are actually breaking up, the female saying to the heartbroken male something like, "I'm sorry, Arthur; it's not me, it's you. You're a tapeworm."***

But back to the college students. According to the article, a study (evidently funded by the Bureau of Honking-Ass Understatement) found that fifty percent of students "noted they do not regularly wash their hands after taking public transportation," while fifty-seven percent "do not routinely wash their hands after returning to their dorm or home from class."

Well. Excuse me while I inhale for long enough to release a six-minute DUHHHHHHHHH audible as far away as Bolivia. If you have ever come into contact with a college, you know they are populated by germs so virulent they can travel from a freshman dorm in Minnesota to infect pygmy persons in the Congo in less time than it takes you to scratch yourself. And I'm not even going to mention the issue of college restrooms, except to say that the task of attempting to use one is fraught with such horrible peril that if you have even the most minimal hygienic standards,**** you will end up playing a giant hideous game of Musical Stalls, entering each individual stall only to scream, duck out at lightning speed, and repeat with each succeeding stall until you have exhausted all possibilities and your only option is to relieve yourself out the window. Unfortunately, in New York City they have a rule about this.***** But as I said, I'm not even going to mention the restroom issue.

Anyway, even though I'm no longer a college student (even though I do still hold the distinctive honor of being regularly hit up for money by members of my graduating class who are themselves richer than your standard deity) I guess I owe it to myself to start becoming much more vigilant about the filth issues. There are so many small things we as individuals can do, such as carrying hand sanitizer, covering our mouths when we cough, never touching anything, and of course keeping a respectable 3-continent distance from all institutions of higher learning. And above all, remember, when letting down your tapeworm suitor, to let him down gently.

And if all else fails, you might want to take some Amoxicillin.

* I guess they just kept making more of them, like My Little Ponies.
**This could actually work, right?
***Source: National Geographic.
****In other words, if you are unfit for college.
*****You absolutely must bring a plastic bag.