This I Believe

Cathleen - Anchorage, Alaska
Entered on November 21, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: humanism

I believe in jerks.

I come from a long line of jerks. My great grandfather volunteered my daddy’s pet Airedale for World War II. What a jerk! My other grandfather flaunted his decades-long affair with an employee. My mother did not breastfeed. My father read Playboy and worked too much. My oldest brother always thinks he’s right. And my other brother is a jerk for the exact same reason.

In college, I went to therapy to learn how to cope with all these jerks. My psychologist was a jerk, too. She told me to get over it.

Now I am a psychologist, and I work with jerks. My patients are jerks – they steal from their parents or read their daughter’s diaries or refuse to have sex with their spouse.

I like my patients because I am a jerk too. For example, sometimes I work too much and neglect my children. This is because people pay me and thank me at work, and I like that. Also, I can go to the bathroom alone. I have plenty of negative attributes. I secretly hold grudges, I think uncharitable thoughts, and I do not volunteer for the P.T.A.

My kid’s teacher insists that there are no bad kids, just bad behaviors. I don’t even know what that means! Sometimes kids are jerks. Sometimes adults are jerks. We blunder. Shame smacks us down, so we try again and do a bit better.

Sometimes we keep our inner jerk at bay. That’s when we walk on the moon and make history. Everyone has a hero moment.

But let’s face it: perfect behavior is perfectly boring. What’s a plot without conflict, crisis, and resolution? Behavior in the antiseptic range undermines our humanity and squelches our humor. In the final analysis, perfectly behaved people are perfectly insufferable.

When I say I believe in jerks, what I mean is that I like my dad, my mom, and my righteous brothers. I like me and I’d probably like you. I believe in jerks because jerks are heroes before the final scene. When I say I believe in jerks what I mean is that I am rooting for the hero moment and I believe that, sometimes, even a jerk can get there.