Passive-Aggressive Dawdling

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I can’t even have dinner without dealing with the personality disordered!

So my wife and I went to Ruby Tuesday’s tonight because both of us were looking forward to their delicious salad bar. Unfortunately, when it was my turn to fill my plate, I got stuck behind Pokey McFiddlefuck who took forever to make her salad. As far as I was concerned, she was doing it purposely; it was all in the way she took her sweet-ass time.

Just choosing between the spinach leaves, spring mix, romaine, and iceberg was nearly a five-minute ordeal. Now imagine her consternation with the rest of the bar’s myriad offerings! At each choice, she’d dab a little bit onto her plate that look at me out of the corner of her eye, which was hidden behind a tangled mess of black hair. Then, keeping her feet planted to the floor, she continued to ponder each additional choice as if it were a matter of life or death. I could almost hear her thinking, Do I want the cucumbers? Hmmmmm… And what about the carrots? I can’t remember if I like shredded carrots or not.

She even fucked with me when she got to the dressing station.

As if considering the fate of the free world, Pokey could not decide which dressing to put upon her salad. Again, after what seemed like five minutes, she finally decided on Ranch… for half of the salad. With the skill and precision of an artist working on his masterpiece, she drizzled the creamy white dressing into a pattern that would’ve made Jackson Pollack jealous. Then, after another minute, she finally decided to go with French on the other half. Needless to say, it was applied with equal attention to detail. With one more sideways glance to me, she finally walked back to her table… slowly.

I was certain the bitch was fucking with me because I’ve seen this type of behavior before. My friend, The Dude, has often employed similar passive-aggressive tactics to piss people off in social situations where the other person felt compelled not to say anything. One time on our way back from a hunting trip, we stopped at a small party store somewhere in the sticks. I no sooner got one foot inside the door when the backwoods idiot working behind the counter shouted, “You talking to me?” I said, “No. I’m talking to my friend,” but this wasn’t enough to calm him down. His eyes, with their angry, confrontational, I’ll-kick-your-ass-right-here-and-now glare, never left me the entire time I was in the store.

And The Dude made sure we were in the store a good long while.

Seeing that the Backwoods was being a complete asshole, my friend purposely dawdled about to further annoy the asshole. Unsure of whether he wanted Funyuns or Doritos, he carefully read the ingredients on each package, counting both calories and sodium count. He was likewise as careful when choosing his soda and candy bar. By the time we got to the counter, Backwoods was a deep shade of red just shy of lobster and he was shaking as he tallied up our total. I thought he was going to jump across the counter on us but ironically, we walked out with our goods while his mighty stare of impotent rage followed us every step.

The difference between The Dude and Pokey McFiddlefuck is that he had a legitimate reason to pull that shit. Backwoods was a total asshole to me for no reason whatsoever; I believe Pokey did it just to be a bitch. I almost said something to her but held back because I didn’t want to ruin one of the precious few nights out with my wife. She looked like the type who would’ve talked shit back, ensuring that her husband got involved as well. He would no doubt take exception to me “frontin’” on his woman, which would have ultimately led to me knocking both of them the fuck out. And for what? Fifteen extra minutes at the salad bar? Some things really aren’t worth it.

I got back to the table and told my wife about it and she promptly pointed out that I can’t know with any degree of certainty that Pokey was doing it intentionally. Having two Autistic sons, she said that there is a good chance that woman could be Autistic as well – or have a similar condition – where precise order and patterns are a must. I conceded that she was right; I did not know that woman so there’s no way I could know with 100 percent certainty that there wasn’t an innocent and legitimate reason for her taking so long.

The pep talk from the Mrs. allowed me to put everything behind me and enjoy the rest of our evening. I even forgot about Pokey, completely losing track of where she and her husband were in the restaurant. I didn’t see her again until we were pulling out of the parking lot. She and her husband slowly walking toward their car… slowly. Right at the point of us driving past them, she looked up at me and smiled and it was the nastiest, most mean-spirited and mischievous smile I had ever seen.

I knew it. Fucking bitch!

Who Remembers: Kenner SSP Shark?

SSPsharkII Anyone remember this awesome toy?

I’m taking a break from trauma and the personality disordered to bring you a lighter, whimsical tale of childhood memory – the Kenner Super Sonic Powered (SSP) Shark. It was one of many SSP Racers to come out in the 1970s and it was a lean, mean, racing machine. Basically, all SSP Racers had one large rubber wheel with a smaller wheel of teeth attached to it. To get the car to shoot across the floor, you inserted a toothed cord – I believe it was called a T-Stick? – then you gave it a pull, not unlike starting a small push-mower. Yanking on the T-stick got that wheel a spinning and you basically just set the car down and watched it zoom off at near-subsonic speed.

I’m guessing this particular model was made shortly after the Jaws movie craze post 1975. The popularity of that film spawned a slew of shark-related toys, iron-on patches (remember those?), and games all marketed toward kids whose parents allowed them to see the film featuring a great white terrorizing a small island community. Thing is, the shark on the SSP racer looks like it’s been crossed with a proboscis monkey, but I still thought this car was the shit back in the day.

Though I was never short on toys as a kid, I never had the SSP Shark. It’s not like my parents wouldn’t let me have one, either; it’s just that every time Xmas rolled around, I always wanted something else more than I wanted the Shark. By the time I thought to ask for one, the 80s were in full swing and video games, role-playing games, and kung fu movies were more my focus. C’est la vie!

Now, with the halcyon days of my youth behind me, I sometimes think about those amazing things from my childhood. Perhaps one of these days, I might go cruising through eBay in hopes of one day finding a “for sale” sign hanging above a bright yellow Kenner SSP Shark. It might be too tempting to not put in a bid. SSPshark

Ever have an SSP racer? Or any other awesome toy from the 70s? Tell me about it in the comments.

Secondary Traits Application: Mr. FanTAStic

Last night, I put up a post about what I believe are the secondary traits of the personality disordered. In it, I identified five traits that were shared amongst people who’ve passed in and out of my life and whom I suspected of being a sociopath, two narcissists, and one with borderline personality disorder. Tonight I’d like to apply those five traits to someone from my past with whom I had a brief but tumultuous business relationship.

First, let’s meet the suspected PD. I call him Mr. FanTAStic with an emphasis on the middle syllable just the way he said it. It was his favorite term to describe his abilities as a musician and to his credit, he was quite good. The problem was, he knew it and the knowledge made him an unbearable asshole. From the minute he walked into a room, the dark cloud of his demeanor descended, coloring everything in its rotten hue. Still, he was a good musician and we needed a fourth member, so the guys and I agreed to let him into the band on one condition: he was told up front that he was a new member to an existing band that was led by me. He would have to be okay with this arrangement, which he said he was. His actions, however, suggested otherwise.

Stage One
As to the secondary traits of the PD, the first one I identified is something I call “Assumption of Authority.” How it works is the PD automatically assumes that he/she is the authority in your friendship/relationship/business arrangement with them. In the case of Mr. FanTAStic, his Assumption of Authority was a lot like the disease of cancer in that it was a silent killer – I never actually heard him make this assumption, which is often the case for those like him. I would only come to find out later that this was his mindset when he began to engage in the second of the five secondary traits of the PD.

Stage Two
Once Mr. FanTAStic assumed his authority over me, he started to engage in the trait of Assertion of Authority. This was initially done through his many haughty gestures and attitudes he would affect both at band practices and live gigs. From there, he began verbally asserting his authority in small ways at first. The first way he did this was by strongly suggesting we hold band practices at his house. Since he was a new member in a well-established band of friends, such a request might seem odd, especially since the band had been practicing at my place for more than two years. I considered his request a means of placing the band in his sphere of power and control and I quickly nixed the idea, the other members agreeing that we should just continue practicing where we always have.

The Assertion of Authority trait always starts out small but it quickly begins a pattern of escalation. Such was the case with Mr. FanTAStic. One time, he began grilling me about what equipment would be used for the recording of our CD, with particular interest being placed upon what type of guitar and amp combination I would be using. He made it clear that he didn’t like the sound of the gear I was using and forcefully informed me, “You’re going to need to get a new guitar.” After uttering his demand, he defiantly stared at me with cold blue eyes as if he was daring me to contradict him. I didn’t have a chance to answer him since another member of the band quickly asked me a question, thus diverting my attention from Mr. FanTAStic. Although I switched gears and conversations, I never forgot how off-putting the boldness of Mr. FanTAStic’s statement was that day.

Having poked and prodded my defenses with a series of small but escalating assertions, Mr. FanTAStic finally worked up the courage to go for broke. One night he asked me to meet him at the bar to “discuss a few things” and I already had a feeling this was not going to be a pleasant meeting. Apparently during a previous gig, I committed he unforgiveable act of skipping ahead one song on the set list. It was at an outdoor gig in the blistering summer sun, and sweat had gotten into my eyes, causing me to accidently calling out the wrong song.

Apparently, this was the gravest of personal disrespects to him and he made it his duty to scold me for it as if I were a child. Sitting there in the bar, listening to this asshole berate me for a simple mistake filled me with the urge to smash his fat head with my beer mug and keep hitting and stomping him until he was down and out for good. Fortunately for him, I chose to be diplomatic and at least hear him out. I regret it to this day.

Stage Three
My experiences with Mr. FanTAStic up to that point had exposed the third of the secondary traits of the PD: their Social/Moral Blind Spot. In very basic terms, this means the PD sincerely believes that he/she can do and say anything they want, no matter how rude, and the people in their life must accept it without retaliation. My FanTAStic friend seemed to believe in this doctrine so far as he and his interests were concerned… and he was interested in my band. More to the point, he had now considered it his band, and since the other guys still considered me the leader, he was going to do all he could to run me out of “his” band. Admittedly, I should have said something early on to put his ass in check but I didn’t, and my silence only encouraged his ever-escalating behavior.

Stage Four
It’s my belief that PDs display something I call “Singularity of Boundaries” in which they demand their boundaries be respected while they refuse to recognize anyone else’s. After discussing “the great stage incident,” Mr. FanTAStic began over-asserting his boundaries in all things band related and it became quite clear that the only possible outcome to any situation was going to be what he and he alone was comfortable with. In doing so, he heavily implemented the fifth of the secondary PD traits: Force Majeure. It’s a French word that means “superior force” and Mr. FanTAStic wielded this weapon with the skill of a master samurai.

So what was Mr. FanTAStic’s superior force? His membership in the band, and he would threaten to withdraw it any time things didn’t go his way, which is to say every time. For example, a couple of us came up with a marketing concept to draw more people to our shows and FanTAStic threatened to quit on the grounds that marketing and promoting the band was “selling out,” and he wasn’t going to do that. We capitulated to his demands under the false belief that without him, we wouldn’t have a band, and this set the pattern for how all things were decided from that day forward. It didn’t take long for this cycle to grind the band to a halt and we lost many prime, good-paying gigs because of it.

Stage Five
They have a name for a band that doesn’t play any gigs and it’s called “basement-playing drinking buddies.” Sadly, that’s what our once-popular band had become after Mr. FanTAStic began asserting his perceived authority. Feeling extremely frustrated at our complete lack of momentum, I made the snap decision to exert a little of my own Force Majeure. It happened one day at practice when FanTAStic came strolling in and started verbally disrespecting me. I don’t remember exactly what it was he said, all I remember is exploding upon him with all the rage I had pent up since the first of his Assertions of Authority. As the other guys were showing up, I was screaming and yelling at FanTAStic as he scrambled to get his gear together and get to his car. I followed him outside, getting in his face once more and challenging him to “do something.” Well, he did something, all right: his eyes filled with tears, his jaw trembled, and he began to stuttered like the quivering coward he really was.

To state the obvious, Mr. FanTAStic’s tenure in the band was over… unfortunately, so was the band.

While I did a good job of calling him out on his synthetic courage and exposing him for the fraud that he was, he ended up having the last laugh on me. You see, the other guys in the band were pacifists and vegetarians by nature, not the kind of chaps who understand the need for a good ol’ fashioned blood-and-guts war to take the edge off. They were mortified at my “atrocious behavior” and began to see Mr. FanTAStic as the poor, beleaguered victim of the ego monster that they believed I’d become. The put their writing on the wall and I could read it in its bright shade of cowardly piss-yellow; I decided to employ a little Force Majeure once more by disbanding the ailing and dysfunctional project. Our floundering and indecision made us the laughing stock of the music scene by that point anyway so it was time to stick a knife in it and call it dead.

I have many other instances where people in my life have displayed the five secondary traits of the personality disordered but I want to hear from you. If you can break down a similar experience using the secondary traits I described, just post your story right here in my comments section… but don’t use any real names. Even the guilty deserve to be protected to some degree.

I look forward to your responses!

Secondary Traits of the Personality Disordered

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder… there are so many fucked up people out there and diagnosing them is typically a matter for the experts. That said, after dealing with one sociopath, a couple narcissists, and former lover with BPD, I’ve noticed certain patterns began to emerge between all of them. They’re what I call the Secondary Traits of the Personality Disordered (or PD for short).

Below you’ll find a list an explanation of what I consider to be the Secondary Traits of the PD. I’ve shared them here in hopes of helping you determine whether that charming yet difficult person in your life is just a garden variety asshole or someone harboring a deeper, much darker secret. If the person you know displays two or more of these traits, chances are you’re dealing with someone with a personality disorder or PD for short. Read on…

Assumption of Authority
PDs by their very nature are authoritarian people and much has already been written on this. What I’ll focus upon is something I call “Assumption of Authority.” Simply put, the personality disordered tend to automatically assume that they are the authority in your friendship/relationship/business arrangement with them. In their minds, the matter has already been decided – if you’re going to have a relationship with them, it’s going to be by their rules because according to them, that’s just the way it is.

Because of the damage done to them in the past, these people are fanatical in their belief that they must remain in control of everyone and everything in their lives; it’s the only way to think they can prevent themselves from being hurt.

Assertion of Authority
Once authority in their relationships is assumed, it must be asserted, hence the second of the PD’s secondary traits. It’s not enough that they believe they’re in control, it’s of primary importance to them that you know and recognize that they are in control. And the way that they assert their authority typically follows a rather insidious pattern that starts out with small statements and gestures – you need to do this, don’t do that – early in the game. Sadly, many people don’t understand these early warning signs.

All too often, the other person in the relationship often laughs off or explains away the PD’s Assertions of Authority. Ask yourself if this sounds familiar: “Oh, he didn’t mean it that way.” Or this: “You don’t know him/her like I do.” If not put in check, the PD becomes emboldened and quickly escalates his/her assertions of authority until they are too egregious to ignore, such as demanding people change their lifestyles, relationships, and beliefs to suit the PD. Having not put the PD in check during the early stages of assertion, the other person often finds it difficult to reason with the PD or escape the relationships once his/her Assertions are at full blast.

Social/Moral Blind Spot
Most of us operate under the assumption that it’s generally good to be polite to people we meet in our day-to-day lives in hopes being treated in a similar fashion. It’s a basic social contract of sorts that’s meant to prevent our world from becoming a chaotic free-for-all of rape, robbery, violence, and murder. Because of their Social/Moral Blind Spot, the personality-disordered have no concept of this unspoken agreement between people in a polite and civilized society. Instead, the PD believes that he/she is owed civil conduct from others while simultaneously not being constrained by the expectations of society themselves.

The Social/Moral Blind Spot is likely an extension of the PD’s Assumption/Assertion of Authority complexes, as the PD will often treat others harshly and with no regard to the consequences of this behavior. Worse yet, all efforts to discuss this behavior with them will fail due to the PD’s stubborn insistence that he/she is entitled and even obligated to behave this way for their own protection and advancement of their interests, etc.

Singularity of Boundaries
To the personality-disordered, their personal boundaries are sacrosanct and they will guard them with a vehemence that’s downright violent. In layman’s terms, you can’t ask about their lives, touch any of their belongings, accidentally brush up against them, or do anything else that they interpret as an intrusion into their personal space. Even a simple question such as, “Did you go to the gas station today?” could be considered an infringement and cause them to fly into a rage.

The biggest problem with this outlook is that it’s highly singular, meaning that the only boundaries that the PD respects and/or recognizes are their own. And as jealously as he/she will guard against those who trespass against them, they will equally trample over the boundaries, rights, and privacy of anyone unfortunate enough to be in their lives. Reading other people’s mail, listening to their phone calls, and searching through – and using – their personal belongings are all fair game to the PD.

Force Majeure
The French term meaning “superior force,” Force Majeure is the best way to describe how the PD goes about irrationally imposing his/her will onto others. If there’s one thing all these secondary traits have in common, it’s the sense of grandiosity that accompanies and fuels them. Doing onto others while simultaneously expecting them to treat you with kid gloves is absolutely unrealistic and perhaps, deep down inside, the PD realizes this. Sooner or later, friends/loved ones/business associates will begin to question the unrealistically selfish nature of the PD’s expectations and to the PD, this comes across as extremely confrontational.

The only possible way for the PD to maintain the irrational inequalities of their expectations is to enforce them with violence or the threat of violence. In personal relationships/friendships, this can often mean physical violence. i.e. Force Majeure or the greater force. The PD’s basic assertion is that because they believe themselves to be physically superior to their victims, this is enough for their victims to comply with the PD’s demands; right or wrong is of no consequence. In the case of business relationships, the PD’s expectations are often enforced via implied or threatened termination of employment/contract/business relationship, which is still considered Force Majeure.

In Conclusion…
As previously stated, there are several types of personality disorders, each with their own unique set of traits and ways in which these traits manifest themselves. To further complicate matters, many of these traits overlap each other, adding more confusion to exactly what might be afflicting your friend/family member/spouse/partner/etc. Further, while I’ve had experience with people I’ve suspected of having personality disorders, I’m by no means a licensed expert. If the secondary traits I’ve listed above describe someone you’re currently involved with, seek professional help and plan a safe and effective exit strategy.

One thing I can tell you – and this will be backed up by professionals in the field – the personality disordered person in your life WILL NOT change and WILL NOT get better. In fact, things will continue to get worse. I urge anyone currently enmeshed with a PD to seek the help they need as soon as possible.

Stay safe, good people.

Social Media Advice: You Get What you Pay For

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I might not be professional life coach but I play one on social media!

I give the best advice on Facebook. Seriously. Whenever a friend is feeling down, I’m the first one to offer scads of advice drawn from the deep and ever-plentiful well of my own misery. My friends are equally as helpful… even if it’s just the same old well-worn phrases such as “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” or “You just gotta hang in there, J.P.” While I appreciate all this online love, it does have me believing we’re all as full of shit as everyone else.

With such a wealth of feel-good philosophers out there (myself included), why the hell are we so miserable? I swear to the gods, if I’m not posting some angry missive on Facebook or my blog, a simple scroll through my newsfeed will show that one of my friends is. You’d think with all the wit and wisdom we share, at least some of us would employ one or two of these great ideas when the shit hits the fan in our own lives. Is it because we know our advice is bullshit? Hmmmm…

Let’s face it, it’s easier to help someone else than it is to fix our own problems. It all has to do with a little something called “objectivity,” which is “a sense of impartiality or fairness.” One must be able to look at a problem objectively in order to solve it, which pretty rules out any idea of us being able to help ourselves. The only upside to this observation is that at least I’m aware of my helplessness. I wonder if any of my fellow social media psychologists are willing to admit their lack of objectivity in their own lives.

Another problem with online advice: few people are truly so altruistic that they’re just willing to offer of themselves for just the sake of helping others. If you believe this about other people, you’re a fool; if you believe it about yourself, you’re a liar. There is a variety of reasons why most people like to “help” others, but the big three are:

1. The “helper” gets off on having a reputation of being a “good person.”

2. It makes the “helper” feel superior to the other person.

3. The “helper” is earning the trust of the other in hopes of manipulating that person at a later date.

Number three is the most insidious of the bunch and subject to a blog post all its own. (It’s an interesting story in manipulation tactics and if you’d like to read it sometime, message me in the comments.) Riddle me this, all ye stalwart crusaders: Deep down, you know I’m right. Admitting it is the first step.

The worst thing about Internet do-gooders is the complete hypocrisy under which so many of us operate. Constantly immersing oneself into other people’s problems really only succeed in one thing: it allows us to willfully ignore our own unresolved issues, personal shortcomings, and character flaws. The more the “helper” tries to help others, the bigger the mess he/she is. Perhaps it’s time these Internet advice columnists (myself included) start looking into a mirror instead of our inboxes. Just saying…

Wow! I really unloaded here, didn’t I? It was all for a good cause though… ’cause I said so. (LOL) There’s a lot of this going around lately, yet everyone who I see giving advice (myself included) will be the same people who are griping about how life isn’t fair a few days later. I guess this only means one thing: unlike my wife, who is a successful advice blogger, I don’t have much of a future in doing the same on here.

Song: Hognose Snake

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When I used to play live music, I got A LOT of requests… but I would keep playing, anyway. (Ba-doom-tiss!) Here’s a new song about a phenomenon I’ve recently identified and it goes out to my good friend in Indiana. (You know who you are!)

Hognose Snake
Lyrics by J.P. Ribner

Hognose Snake! Hognose Snake!
Lookin’ like a cobra, but ya know he’s a fake
You have to give more than ya take
[Turnaround]

Chased down the dark path,
I turned and ran away
Fuel the fire in my ears a’burnin’
The liberties taken that day

Hognose Snake! Hognose Snake!
Lookin’ like a cobra, but ya know he’s a fake
You have to give more than ya take
From that no-good, lowdown, dirty rotten snake [Sung over the turnaround]

[Bridge]
Spirit of Red Dog came to me in a dream
Told me that the snake ain’t all that it seems
Said you gotta give way more than you take
From that no-good, lowdown, dirty rotten snake [Sung over the turnaround]

[Solo part]

Apologies were accepted
Set the sword down in the glade
It’s been a score, maybe a few more
It’s time to reclaim that blade

Hognose Snake! Hognose Snake!
Lookin’ like a cobra, but ya know he’s a fake
You have to give more than ya take
From that no-good, lowdown, dirty rotten…
Hognose Snake! Hognose Snake!
Lookin’ like a cobra, but ya know he’s a fake
You have to give more than ya take
From that no-good, lowdown, dirty rotten snake

Reverse Seniority: Narcissistic-Boss Problems

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It was like a scene out of Office Space with a more twisted logic. The new employee sauntered over to my cubicle to inform me that I would be responsible for five sales per week in another department. The conniving little prick didn’t care that I already was juggling my department and another one that was handed to me after the former manager quit. He also didn’t give two shits that I hadn’t had a raise in two years. Nope! All he cared about was being a hero in front of the boss at my expense. To add insult to injury, he condescendingly told me that the boss “already gave me his approval for this.” The message was clear: resistance is futile and “Reverse Seniority” was in full effect …

My friends told me not the take the job. They said the boss, aka “Big Man,” was a demanding prick who expected everything but gave nothing in return. As proof, they said he would brag about his vacation to vacation to Cabo San Lucas to employees who hadn’t had a raise in years. Since I was dead broke college student, I was forced to ignore their warnings and work for “The Company.” (Cue “Imperial March” theme music.)

During my first few months on the job, Big Man was somewhat as my friends described. He drove his Porsche to the office every day, had a different Rolex for every day of the week, and loved to regale us with tales of vacations in faraway lands such as Jamaica, Mexico, and the French Riviera. All that said, he did manage to be nice to me during my first six months; he even regularly complimented me on my columns that appeared in the college newspaper.

About a year in, I noticed that I went from being the star employee to “just another lazy-ass college kid livin’ off his parents’ money.” (It never occurred to him that I took out loans and was working for him to pay my way through school.) According to him, my sales numbers weren’t high enough, my attitude wasn’t positive enough, and I simply couldn’t do enough for The Company. (Cue “The Imperial March” theme.) It bothered me until some of the old timers said not to take it personally, the same thing happened to them. So I soldiered on.

Things completely went to shit during my third year on the job. By then, a new crop of freshmen meant a new crop of employees who soon became the apple of Big Man’s eye. Three of them in particular – Overbite, Double Chin, and Mop Top – were particularly adept at lying, flattering, and sucking the boss’s balls enough to allow them to fly up the company ladder three rungs at a time. Soon, these rookies became the de facto managers and directors of we who’d been there for years. Everything came to a head the day Mop Top sauntered over to my cubicle and saddled me with the additional responsibilities.

As angry as I was, I knew there was no use arguing about it. Mop Top was Big Man’s new pet and the two of them had already made up their minds. Plus, I already knew Big Man’s take on human resources management: “If you don’t like it, there’s the door.” And even if I did complain about being overworked and underpaid, I already know what he would’ve said: “A company has only two priorities: to its profits and its stockholders.” It was a nice way of saying, “Fuck off! You don’t deserve anything.”

Needless to say, Big Man went through the roof when I quit. In a matter of seconds, he was reminded about how much he and The Company (Cue “Imperial March” theme.) actually needed me. But instead of conducting an exit interview to learn about his shortcomings as a leader, he chose to yell and scream at me. “How can you do this to me after all I’ve done for you?” he said. I had to point out to him that a company’s only priorities are to its profits and stockholders. As CEO of J.P. Ribner, LLC, I owed it to my stockholders – my wife and child – to earn more money with a company would pay me more and I my work would be appreciated. I’m sure the lesson was lost on him.

Sadly, reverse seniority is common amongst narcissistic bosses. Their attention spans are notoriously short and since they believe they’re entitled to everything, they’re unable to appreciate what any one employee has done. Also, quiet, steady, hardworking employees don’t create the kind of excitement that silver-tongued false flatterers do, so it’s easy for the slow-and-steady types to fade into the darkness while the spotlight is trained on the boss and his pets. If you have a narcissistic boss, my advice is simple: Fire them before they fire you. My only regret is that it took my three years to do it.

Cue “Imperial March” theme.

Fight Like a Human… Not an Animal

To beat a bully, you’ve gotta fight like an animal, right? Wrong! You have to be a human. I’ll explain; but first, watch this video:

In the animal kingdom, creatures of the same species often go through an elaborate ritual when they fight. It often includes a lot of vocalization, posturing, chest-thumping, etc., and this is all designed to instill fear into the other animal. We human animals are not much different than our wild counterparts, particularly when studying the behavior of bullies. The video above is a good example of what happens when one person (the bully) engages in all the ritualistic intimidation behavior, while the other (the intended victim) short-circuits that approach with quick, decisive, and violent action. I would argue that the bully, caught up in her ritualistic behavior, never saw it coming.

Although this fight video is a mere 53 seconds long, it speaks volumes about bullying. I’ll break it down for you as quickly as possible.

1. Like animals that live in groups, bullies like to make their fights public events. They do this because they know that every person they hurt, shame, and/or humiliate in front of a crowd furthers their own reputation as someone to be feared, which to them is as good as being respected.

Before a push or punch was ever thrown, the bully in the video had a crowd of young ladies standing around, recording the event with their cellphones. No doubt this whole confrontation was pre-planned and pre-meditated by the bully.

2. Much like animals, bullies shout and yell at their intended victims before engaging them physically. This is to instill fear and make it easier for the bully to be victorious because in most cases, the intended victim is afraid of the bully, and the verbal ritual helps instill this fear and adrenaline response, which often makes people freeze up.

Of the total 53 seconds of this video, roughly 20 seconds are dedicated to the bully verbally accosting her intended victim. That’s nearly half of the total time it took for the confrontation to begin and reach its inevitable conclusion.

3. Animals will often puff their chests and stand as tall as they can to appear larger and more fearsome to their opponents. Bullies do this too, and it’s to their detriment. Most proven martial arts – boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, etc. – stress standing at an angle to your opponent. This is smart insomuch that it makes it easier to attack and defend from while presenting yourself as less of a target to your opponent. Bullies, on the other hand, will often square up in front of their opponents with both feet next to each other. While this certainly helps make an impression, it’s a stupid move tactically, especially if someone chooses to counterattack. People using this stance often find themselves off-balance and at a distinct disadvantage when this happens.

The bully in the video stands over her intended victim in this manner. Notice how ineffective her defense is when her intended victim leaps up and begins punching her? Standing squared off like this also allows the intended victim to score a good kick to the bully’s thigh (at the 27-second mark), knocking the bully off balance for a second and allowing the intended victim to maintain her superior attacking position.

4. Generally speaking, the more elaborate an animal’s posturing instincts, the less able it is to actually fight. Check out the hognose snake:

When confronted, it puffs its head up similar to a Cobra and coils up, making many false attempts at striking. If this display isn’t enough to deter a potential threat, it will eventually roll over and play dead, which is a far cry from the threatening displays it showed earlier. Bullies aren’t much different; they’re threat displays are a lot more intimidating than their actual fighting prowess.

You saw the video, right? Besides a lot of barking and posturing, did the bully do anything significant? Her best shot was a weak-ass push that only resulted in triggering her intended victim’s fight response. From that point, she got punched, kicked, and eventually ragdolled to the ground, where her intended victim continued to make a mockery out of her for everyone to see. In other words, the bully was nothing more than a hognose snake… who was stupid enough to pick a fight with a mongoose.

So there you have it, good people. To win a fight, you don’t have to be an animal because acting like an animal will likely get you knocked out. Be a human and learn to shortcut the bully’s posturing and other pre-fight rituals to catch him/her off-guard and commence to whippin’ dat ass! But always remember, once you commit to a fight, you have to be willing to go all the way. Even though the bully in this video was outmatched, she didn’t go down without a fight. If her intended victim had let up at any time during their brawl, this video could have had a different ending.

Stay safe out there!

J.P. Ribner is the author of three novels: Legacy of the Bear, Prophecy of the Bear, and World So Dark.

Me and Mr. Ego

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The record company told me this song was “a treasure”… then they told me to bury it. But I’ve unearthed it for your entertainment. Another reminder of my short-lived career as a singer/songwriter:

Mr. Ego
Lyrics by J.P. Ribner

Me and Mr. Ego,
gonna take a ride
He’s in the driver’s seat,
with me by his side,
It’s been a while since
we’ve been down this road,
I forgot how it was,
let’s see where it goes

Me and Mr. Ego,
We’re cruisin’ right along
and I forget about
every time things went wrong
who even cares about
what happened before?
Mr. Ego puts the pedal down,
down to the floor

I always thought I was unique,
but they say I’m not unique
No validation that I seek
Mr. Ego… take me away

Hey Mr. Ego
You’re going too fast,
Now I remember,
we got in a crash,
But Mr. Ego
doesn’t hear what I say,
he’s gonna do it
do it his way

I always thought I was unique,
but they say I’m not unique
No validation that I seek
Mr. Ego … take me away

[Bridge/slow down]

As they pull me outof the burning wreck
Burned flesh, contusions, broken neck
lay my shattered body to the ground
Where’s Mr. Ego?
He’s nowhere to be found
Yeah, I know he’s not around

I always thought I was unique,
but they say I’m not unique
No validation that I seek
Mr. Ego… take me away
Take me away now
Why won’t you take me away
Far away now
a million miles away now
Mr. Ego?

Why am I so Cold?

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In days of old when J.P. was bold and good music wasn’t invented, I thought I’d try my hand as a punk rock singer/songwriter along the lines of Henry Rollins and Jim Carroll. After extensive touring, I finally landed a recording contract but the major label decided to keep the album and release me. Here’s one set of lyrics that never saw the light of day:

Cold
Lyrics by J.P. Ribner

The sky is a blanket above me
colored gun-metal gray
Trudging through the slush again
It’s just one of those days
the snow on the concrete, stained black as coal
exhaust pipe scars, clouds, choking my soul
and I keep thinking this shit’s getting old
Why am I so… cold?
Cold
Cold
Why am I so…

Wind-chill factor kisses,
go straight to the bone
Empty branches reaching out
but I’m so alone
Car tires splash, puddles threaten to drown me
Trapped under ice, lost, nobody’s found me
and everything around me has been bought and sold
Why am I so… cold?
Cold
Cold
Why am I so…

{breakdown}

The snow keeps coming down
It keeps falling down
It’s falling down
upon my head
They say things are comin’ ’round
but it keeps comin’ down,
keeps falling down until I’m…

The sky is a blanket above me,
colored gun-metal gray…

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