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Stories & Scripts

Source: Adults

Author: Stuart Johnson

Title: The Diary Entries of a Mild Misanthropist ( 2 )

The definition of a Misanthropist -
The official definition is " a person who dislikes, distrusts or hates the human race.... ". ( Apparently the word is of Greek derivation, but then I thought every word was of Greek origin anyway. Even words such as Beckham or barbecue. )
But this is a rather general description, and doesn't really explain the motivation or mentality behind being a Misanthropist.
The best example I can provide is this:
I used to work in a shop. The customers used to moan a lot, about things I didn't think were worth moaning about. And so I used to moan about the things customers moaned about.
I would then take a lunch break and go shopping myself.
I would then find myself in other shops, moaning about those same things I had moaned about the customers moaning about.....
Erm, still with me?
Well whatever, that is an example of a Misanthropist.

Sunday, 31st August.

Mobile Phones.

I was quite happy.
I was sitting in the corner of my local with a frothy pint of rats piss that Clive the landlord pretends to call ' lager ', perusing over my copy of Modern Misanthropist's Monthly. I was particularly keen to read the cover story entitled " I used to think most other people were stupid.... now I realise I was right. "
So yes, I was quite happy sitting there alone, minding my own business and hoping everybody else in the pub would do the same.

That's when I spotted Trevor from the corner of my eye, breezing into the bar and performing a quick panoramic scan for potential Sunday-lunchtime company.
Trevor Bladderfoot lives in Flat 2, across the hall from me. I can just about stomach him in small doses, but no more than ten minutes of small talk before I excuse myself suddenly, mentioning that I think I've left the fridge on.
Hurriedly, I grabbed my coat that was draped around the back of my chair and covered my head with it. I did this on the hopeful premise that if I couldn't see him, he wouldn't be able to see me.

It didn't work.

I heard the scraping of the seat opposite as it was pulled back, and removed the coat from my head with a sigh. I guess I had no option but to try and be sociable. You see, the act of friendliness doesn't come naturally to me, I have to really concentrate.
I returned his wide yellow-toothed grin with a thin, tight-lipped upturn of my mouth that felt like it was breaking my jaw.
" Afternoon Trevor. "
No reply. He didn't even look at me, just pulled out a small oblong object and tapped away at it flamboyantly as if it were a typewriter.
I watched grim-faced. ' So this is what I get in return for attempting to be civil for once. I am completely ignored whilst he plays with his sodding telephone. '
" I said, good afternoon Tre- ", he raised a hand to silence me and pointed reassuringly at his mobile. Coincidentally, or so it seemed to me at this moment, my own phone chirped its double-bleeped text alert at me.
It turned out to be a text from Trevor which read 'Afternoon,mind if I join you? '
I stared at my phone.
Then I glanced at Trevor's stupid grinning face. Then I did a couple more takes back and forth between text and stupid face.
" Did you just send me that text? " I asked him.
He briefly tapped a few more buttons on his phone. I received another text from him that simply read..... 'Yes.'
" Right....and did you just send me that one as well? "
Misinterpreting my expression of disbelief, he sent another text to me which read 'Well yeah, you've got my name and number on your phone so you should know that it's from me! '

Actually, this wasn't strictly true as I'd deleted it almost as soon as he'd persuaded me to put it on there. But I wasn't quite unpleasant enough to tell him this. ( It's something I'm working on though. )

" Trevor, forgive me if this sounds like a bit of a stupid question. Although for someone like yourself who shares the same level of evolutionary intelligence as an extinct mollusc from the Cretaceous period, I guess there's no such thing as a stupid question..... "
Trevor's smile had switched quickly to a non-comprehending frown.
" .....but why in God's name are you texting your side of our conversation to me when you're sitting three feet away from me? "
Trevor picked up his phone.
" No no, please don't answer that in the form of another text! "
He shrugged and placed it back on the table, then rather irritatingly protruded his lower lip at me as if to suggest that I was being, to coin his own phrase, ' a bit of a moody chops. '
I took another long sip of rats piss, and watched the cars passing by outside, imagining Trevor being hit by every single one. This cheered me up a little bit.

Just as he went flying across the bonnet of another Citroen Berlingo, the wistful smile on my face was interrupted by the alert of another text on my phone.
' So how's your week been anyway? I see you've had a haircut. '
Nudged across the threshold of annoyance, I grabbed his phone and dropped it through an open window. This was maybe a slight over-reaction, and I did feel a small pang of regret when I saw the mortified look on his face.
" Arghh-wotchoodooaffor?! "
He rushed out of the pub to rescue, retrieve and no doubt give mouth-to-mouth to his beloved mobile.
I briefly considered sneaking off to another table and draping my coat over my head again, but concluded there wasn't enough time. He stomped back towards me, wearing a face that was noticeably more grumpy than the usual chirpy, optimistic exterior.
" A bit uncalled for... " he muttered, raising a pint of rats piss to his lips.
" Oh what joyous revelation, the man has vocal chords. "
He frowned at me. " Sounds as if somebody needs to get with the times. Don't you realise that the act of talking is sooo last year. "
I nodded my appreciation of what was possibly the dumbest remark I'd ever heard in my life.
" Yep, " I agreed. " So last year, so the year before last, so the year before that, and so every year going back in time to the moment when Mister Ugg first stepped out of his cave, biffed Mrs Ugg over the head with a wooden club and said ' Nnngthh '.
Trevor offered one of those half-smiles which translates as " haven't the foggiest what that is you just said. "
" Well anyway, " he said, wisely moving on, " you didn't answer my question. "
" What question? "
" I asked how your week has been... and I notice you've had a haircut. "
" My week has been crap, and no I haven't had a haircut. "
" No no no, sshh! Answer it with a text. "
" For god's sake Trevor, why waste my energy and twelve pence on texting it to you WHEN I CAN SODDING WELL TELL YOU! "

All other eyes in the pub were turned towards me, startled momentarily by the sound of a raised voice. I experienced the surreal horror of noticing that all these people staring at me had a mobile phone clasped in their hand.
To my further horror, I had the growing sense that they had not been startled by me raising my voice, but more so at what I had actually said.
" I think you've offended them, " Trevor said in a hushed tone.
" Good. "
He shook his head at me in a pitying manner. " You are so behind the times. We are living in a new age of communication, a glorious age where text has become the new form of talk. "
" I'm waiting for an even more glorious age where you bugger off and don't communicate with me at all, but until then I will opt for the spoken word thank you very much. "
" Well, have it your own way.....But haven't you noticed how quiet it is in this pub? Perhaps you should ask yourself why. "

Now that he had come to mention it......
I took a few casual glances around me, casual glances that transformed into a wide-eyed realisation.
At the table to our right, a group of six or seven young men and women, all sat in silence and tapping away at their phones. Occasionally a couple of them would look up at each other and start laughing.
But no words exchanged.
At another table, an elderly couple. Frail fingers struggling with the keypads.
Again, no words passed their lips.
Oh my god.
And finally the clincher, the one that convinced me that the world around me was turning into a loony bin. A young mum with her toddler balanced on her lap. She was holding a Nokia in both hands whilst the little boy had a big purple phone that played ' Pop goes the weasel. "
Both appeared to be punching out messages as if their lives depended on it.
Little boy's text - Mum-mmy, I want orange squash!
Young mum's text - Oh will you stop whining, you're giving me a headache!

I grabbed my coat, draped it over my head again, and finished the rats piss.

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