At this turn of a new year, I take stock, as I always do, and make my new year’s resolution. I make the same resolution every year: “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” At 63 years old, I have at last reached the nasty old crankhood to which I’ve long aspired. I resolved upon this path as a very young brat, taught life’s essentials by the Z-grade Westerns that played endlessly on the TV my parents bought in 1949. From them I learned the essential facts of life.
Always of a histrionic bent, I was most impressed that bad guys and sidekicks get all the good lines. Further, they don’t have to bother with any of those odious responsibilities that heroes are obliged to undertake, such as putting themselves in harm’s way, perpetually exerting themselves physically for the benefit of the downtrodden, and, by implication, bashing regularly, changing their underwear, shaving, coming their hair, eating their vegetables, rising and retiring early. Who needs any of that?
No heroism was not for me. But, of sidekickery or badguyness, which offers the better quality of life, the most comprehensive world view? Upon careful observation, it seemed to me that by dint of being lovable and ineffectual, sidekicks hardly ever came to harm. On the other hand, by allying with the forces of good, they had to share many of the heroes privations and ordeals without every gaining any respect or material reward for doing so. Worst of all, women shunned him, in favor of the more glamorous white-hat- wearer. The good guy may have preferred to kiss his horse, but the sidekick had to kiss his. Nobody else would kiss him.
Now, the bad guy, he had it all. He could kiss anybody he wanted whether they liked it or not. Who could stop him? He basked in the material rewards of his evil deeds. He indulged in plenty of fun, slept in a warm, comfortable bed every night, did just as he please to whomever he liked, and employed numerous minions to do the heavy lifting, take all the risks and wash the dishes. He had more women who were far more interesting than the one reticent little calico gal alotted to his foe. Verilly, he lived it up until the very last frames of the very last reel. Of course, he did get his come-uppance in the end, but, in the last reel of life, who doesn’t?
As I expanded my viewing to other televised forms of melodrama, I discovered that the older the bad guy, the more perquisites to his nefarious lifestyle. The older ones never had to cross swords, fists or artillery with the forces of good. They appeared more prosperous and powerful than their younger colleagues. They seemed more up on the latest technology. (Whoever saw a young mad scientist?) Best of all your older bad guy had a wealth of high times behind him that no good guy could take away. So, let law and order whittle away the last few of those declining years. Who wants them?
So, now that I am fully invested, as it were, in nasty old fartdom, I have only a short wait until some good guy does his duty thereby saving me from stultifying superannuation and propelling me to that final country where I shall never again have to worry about a cold snap. No more Mr. Nice Guy indeed!
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