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Davis, California

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Column: TV’s best character

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish, and you feed yourself. He’s a grown man. Fishing’s not that hard.”

The world is cutthroat. The pursuit of independence naturally lends itself to a more self-centered existence, and as life goes on, we have less and less time for other people. There will always be people who can theoretically help us, but social economics makes it increasingly difficult to justify going out of our way for other people.

“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

Pretty straightforward.

“Friends: one to three is sufficient.”

Also straightforward.

“The important thing is the dam is never happening, and your dream has been crushed.”

Human instinct is to go for self-preservation, but it’s often best to be direct with unpleasant news, or to be honest with yourself if you think you’re wasting your time. Resolutely finishing a plate of shit just because you bought it helps absolutely nobody.

If you’re in a shitty relationship, don’t hesitate to say “I’m not romantically attracted to you anymore, and there are other people I’d rather be boning.” People are stronger, more capable and more adaptable than they often seem. Nobody likes getting jerked around by the bureaucracy of life.

“I enjoy government functions like I enjoy getting kicked in the nuggets with a steel-toed boot. But this hotel always served bacon-wrapped shrimp. That’s my favorite food wrapped around my third favorite food. I’d go to a banquet in honor of those Somali pirates if they served bacon-wrapped shrimp.”

It’s impossible to be 100 percent true to your convictions. Compromise and concessions are the only way to get things done, and you just have to take the bad (government functions) with the good (bacon-wrapped shrimp, holy shit).

“You’re on a desert island. What’s the one thing you bring with you?”

“Silence.”

Small talk is one of the most important smokescreens in life, but it’s also one of the most irritating. We’ve all been on that awkward car ride where the driver/passenger refuses to shut up, and you lose out on two hours of sleep and introspection. Silence is golden, and more people should understand that. The stars never shine brighter and the world never seems more poignantly wondrous than when the sound of silence settles in.

When silence falls over a large group and that one guy ruins it by chuckling “Tee hee, this sure is an awkward silence,” my first instinct is to rip his intestines out and snarl with savage fury, because silence has come and gone and left humdrum reality in its wake. Former President Lyndon Johnson said it best: “Only talk when it improves the silence.”

“When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half-mast I thought, ‘Alright, another bureaucrat ate it.’ But then I saw it was Li’l Sebastian. Half-mast is too high. Show some damn respect.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Parks and Rec, Li’l Sebastian is a miniature pony who embodies the underdog spirit of Pawnee. His death sends shockwaves reverberating through the community, and Ron Swanson is visibly affected by his passing.

Even emotional tanks like Ron Swanson have things they care deeply about and truly believe in, and it’s that implicit compassion and tenderness that keeps humanity from collapsing in on itself. After spending most of this column asserting the shittiness of humanity, it’s only fair to acknowledge the inherent goodness that most people not named Mitt Romney have.

BEN CHANG will engage you in awkward conversation at bcchang@ucdavis.edu.

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