Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.
What is The Man? The Man is always bringing people down, but who is this invisible bastard? Who is this omnipresent godless whoreson who constantly plagues us, siphoning the marrow from our brittle bones? Who is this sadist who keeps us close, so that he may someday break us like Lindsay Lohan, leaving us with nothing more than an empty bank account and a pair of aging hooters?
Does The Man wear a suit? Does he smoke a cigar and laugh heartily when his stock rises? Does he have an assistant? A butler? A gold-trimmed limousine with a 24-hour driver? Does his mansion have a money pit, like Scrooge McDuck? Does his office have a Newton’s cradle, where the metal balls on strings clink against each other back and forth? Does his pen cost more than dinner at a steakhouse, and come with its own case? Does he make gentlemanly wagers to amuse himself? How many meters can he dive underwater before his watch stops working?
On weekends, does The Man hunt people for sport? I’m pretty sure I saw a movie about that once, and if there’s anything The Man would do, I’m sure it would be that.
Is The Man multiple people? Are Wall Street traders The Man? That seems like a lot of stress and work for The Man to be putting up with. Are cops The Man? That’s seems like a pretty low paycheck for his type. Are politicians The Man? I doubt The Man would make it so easy for us to vote him out of office. Are the bankers at AGI The Man? That doesn’t seem right. If The Man failed, I’m pretty sure things would get better for us little people. Wouldn’t The Man losing mean we had won?
Is The Man actually a woman? Is Oprah Winfrey just biding her time before she destroys us all? Has Ruth Bader Ginsburg built an evil fortress from which to rule the country? Martha Stewart has already been in jail for illegal stock trading, which qualifies her for being The (Wo)Man. And don’t even get me started about Condoleeza Rice.
Perhaps The Man is a thing instead of a person. Is it poverty? Cancer? Obesity? Taxes? Alcohol purchased by Native Americans? Poorly-maintained imitation peanut butter that spreads salmonella? Is The Man crunchy, smooth, or – heaven help us – both kinds of peanut butter? What about swine flu? I know it’s a made up disease that’s really just regular flu, but maybe The Man is the fear gullible people have when they imagine they’ve obtained a special virus from a farm animal.
Is God The Man? I mean, I’m sure He is in some respect, since He created the universe and all, but is God The (Bad) Man too? Perhaps ancient prophets got the details wrong about praying on Sunday morning. Perhaps we’re praying at a time when God is trying to use the toilet, and He’s angered by the intrusion. Boom, stock market drops 100 points. Thanks a lot, Kirk Cameron. You disturbed the Lord on the john. Again.
How can we discover the identity of “The Man”? Is it someone who has everything? Is it someone who has nothing, but wants everything for free? Is it someone born with such incredible book smarts that they don’t have to try, or someone born with such a lack of smarts that it’s not worth trying? Is The Man conservative or liberal? Does he switch sides depending on the opportunities? Is he part of the majority or the minority? Will we know him by his brand of clothing or the logo on his car?
Does The Man even exist at all? He has to, doesn’t he? Someone out there is causing all this trouble. Someone out there isn’t working hard, or is passing the buck to someone else, or doesn’t care enough about their job. Someone is gaining while everyone else is losing. Someone is apathetic or taking it easy. Yet those descriptions could fit any of us, depending on the time and place. The Man could realistically be a joint effort of douchebaggery by all of us at different choice moments.
Just kidding! That would be ridiculous.
Out of all the things The Man is or isn’t, the only thing we know for sure is The Man isn’t us. We could never be The Man. We’d never bring others down. Not unless they deserved it. We’d never refuse to help people. Unless we were busy, of course. We’d never be greedy, though we did work really hard for what we’ve got, and we’ll be damned if anybody shakes things up for us on their way to helping others.
I wish someone would figure out who The Man is. It’s hard to believe anyone could be so terrible.