[The following is the introduction to a self-help book I’m in the process of writing. It’s called Tolerating Yourself, and it will help you cope with the abysmal reality of being the half-sentient mound of debt, angst and mediocrity that you are.]
I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to humor; I mostly want to make people feel accepted, and I understand that a joke must have been funny to them if they said it out loud, so I almost always laugh. Maybe I have a sense of empathy instead of a sense of humor. Which would explain why I always ended up sending charities vulgar eCards instead of money. I thought a little toilet humor might brighten their day amidst the stray dogs and armless soup kitchen workers and whatever other depressing stuff good people spend their time worrying about. I thought I was doing them a service – I even started a charity of my own, the Vulgar Ecards for Charities Charity.
Then the Redemption Artillery (the non-copyright-restricted version of the Salvation Army) wrote an open letter about me. And everything changed.
The letter was titled, “To That Person In My Life Who Doesn’t Understand That Impressionable Old Ladies Work In My Gol’ Danged Soup Kitchen,” and it went viral on the GC scale, with over 400 people Googling soup kitchen the same week the letter was released. (The GC scale is the Good Cause scale; it ranges from “receiving zero hits” to “accidentally being blocked as porn.” This is contrasted with the KKK scale—the Kim Kardashian’s Kaboose-with-a-K scale—ranging from 100,000 shares to “breaking the internet.” Whatever that means.)
Obviously, it was a huge embarrassment for me, and not just because open letters have been competing with my eCard company for the niche of helping people vaguely and passive aggressively release pent-up frustrations on the internet. The truth is, I was genuinely convinced that I had been making a positive impact on the world through my work, but I had apparently been foolishly blind; I see that now. Against all odds, an open letter has caused me to re-evaluate my life.
So I just want to let you know that just because you’ve been targeted by an open letter doesn’t mean there is no hope for you. You might be feeling worthless, helpless against the barrage of eloquent and thought-provoking sentiment that assaults your very character. But you cannot give up hope. Things will get better.
Wait. I just realized that I copied and pasted this introduction from a previously-unpublished-because-I-decided-it-sucked Open Letter to the Subjects of Open Letters. However, this provides a perfect opportunity for me to showcase some of the skills that Tolerating Yourself will teach you. In this situation, let’s use Rationalization to convince me that copying and pasting an introduction from an entirely unrelated body of work is the right call. Try it yourself! Tell me that what some people might call “laziness and disinterest,” I can choose to rebrand as “efficiency and resourcefulness”! Good job! Now tell me that people are so desperate to be tolerable that they’ll buy my book just to put it on their coffee table so they can subliminally convince estranged family friends they’re worthy of making brunch plans with, and it doesn’t actually matter what I write. Wow, you’re doing great! Finally, to seal the deal, tell me that if I sell even one copy of a book that is obviously 1) satire, and 2) never going to be written, I will have done better than all of the exponentially more intelligent, sophisticated and self-possessed people who have never tried to put themselves out there.
Amazing job! These stale, self-plagiarized words are tolerating the hell out of you. And soon you can, too.