The world is a sharp and dangerous place filled with no shortage of truly awful things to tear our guts out and make us cry forever. We know what they are: War, illness, puppy rape and Brett Ratner movies. But there are also all sorts of tiny, less obvious things that -- for no good reason -- can fill us with a sadness so pervasive we're forced to look away. Or at least there are for me. Not enough to make me cry. Just a vaguely disconcerting emptiness that emerges more and more unless I fill it up with happiness or alcohol. Here are five of my big triggers to melancholy. Do you have different ones? Express them in an interpretive dance, upload to YouTube and send me the link!
#5. People Trying To Be Funny In Magazine Photos
The other day I was heading to work and I saw a newsstand fronting some magazine's "comedy issue." I honestly don't know what mag it was or who was on the cover because I walked away to avoid seeing someone I respected wearing Groucho Marx glasses, holding a rubber chicken or doing something else equally awful.
Staged photographs of comics are always a letdown because most celebs didn't get where they are today by being funny in still pictures. In fact, not only is it nearly impossible to be funny in a staged photo, it's also pretty hard to avoid looking like a giant douche. Even three of the most hilarious human beings to ever set foot online have failed.
Don't worry. We all feel a deep sense of shame about this.
And it's not just the Cracked comedic brain trust that can fail. Look at these pics below, and keep in mind that every single one of these people is talented. That's why these ham-fisted attempts at humor make me so very sad. It's like even talented artists are saying, "All right, fuck it. I'll sit on a whoopee cushion for a GQ shoot. My manager said it's good press."
Wait. She's dressed like the Queen, but she's not the Queen ... oh, I get it!
"Is that sadder than seeing pics of war crimes or watching Tower Heist?" some of you ask.
No, not as sad. (You skipped the part in the introduction where I already explained that, didn't you? You also make me sad.)
OMG, pocket watermelon and giant foam hands? Now, I've seen everything!
#4. Old People in Fast Food Restaurants
As you may have heard, a prerequisite to working for Cracked is the completion of an intense physical strength regimen not unlike the one for Navy Seals. (Why else would a grown man like Seanbaby waste so much time with mixed martial arts?) As such, I rarely frequent fast food establishments unless I'm making McNuggets runs for DOB. (As Cracked's senior writer, he's exempt from the requirements and consequently has no abs.) In any event, the point is, I don't go to fast food places too often, but when I do, and I see old people there, I get a little sad.
I'm not sure why. I mean, when I'm 70 and retire from Cracked after having sold the movie rights to my column 5 Hidden References to Deviant Sexual Practices in Family Matters, I might treat myself to a McNugget or two (if DOB hasn't eaten them all). So what's the big deal?
I don't know, but when I see old people in McDonald's, I instantly invent tragic back stories, usually involving younger versions of these senior citizens who were forced to chow on burgers in their 20s and 30s while still believing that some day they would be in a better place. Some day that ship would come in, and only the finest foods would pass their lips.
"Can you believe we used to eat that crap before we made all that money in white slavery? Bwahahahahaha!"
So I guess somewhere in my head I believe an old person eating a Big Mac is what it looks like when dreams die.
"Why do you hate me, God?"
#3. The Less Intelligent Members of the Gay Community
By the time I was in my teens, most of my stereotypical assumptions about the gay community had been shattered by reality. I learned fairly quickly that not all gay men have a good fashion sense. Not all lesbians work at Home Depot. Gays aren't all bleeding heart liberals or disco fans. Some gay men are macho sports nuts. Some gay women are girly-girl fashion mavens. I get it. We all get it, and if we don't, then there are enough members of the gay community to point it out and make sure we do.
But more recently it occurred to me there was another assumption I'd been making about gay people that never seemed to get corrected. Specifically, that all gays are smart. Uniformly. As if that were even possible. Not sure why I jumped to this conclusion. Maybe it's because when I think of homophobes, I think of small-minded neurologically impaired, thick-necked dbags whose limited IQs make them fear and hate anything outside of their immediate experience. So (in my own neurologically-impaired way) I assumed that the opposite of a homophobe must be more enlightened and intelligent.
"I just solved Fermat's last theorem while waxing. Isn't that hilarious?"
But of course that's absurd. Heterosexuals don't have a monopoly on stupidity and there are plenty of LGBT folks who are every bit as functionally retarded as the straight people who ruin life for the rest of us. But the thing is, despite there being nothing unusual about a full intelligence spectrum in the gay community, dim-witted gays still make me incredibly sad. Maybe it's because it's hard enough to struggle for equality without spending all day struggling to figure out the 20 percent tip on your quiche or brie or whatever gay people eat. Or maybe it's because I've seen some big, dumb, gay-bashers in my day and I'd like to think all gays had an intellectual advantage over such adversaries. But no. Stupid has no single sexual orientation.
*By the way, spoiler alert to any gay commenters who call me homophobic for this entry. Read all the words. It's not homophobic. Your comment makes me sad.