Rohit's Realm

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May 14, 2007

Nihilism: Ages 3 and Up

As I am sure even the most inept of cretins could likely attest to based on a cursory glance of this website (or a moment's interaction—that's all they would be likely to get from me), I am not someone who could generally be considered kid-friendly. I am neither nice nor cuddly, have little patience for incompetence or density, and in general, have absolutely no interest in interacting with individuals (children or otherwise) incapable of communicating at my desired level. Elitist, arrogant, caustic, I am; endearing, compassionate, approachable, I am decidedly not. Yet, despite my complete indisposition for the role, and even my well-publicized disdain, I continue to be the subject of inexplicable adulation by small children near and far. The latest episode (some might say attack) happened on the BART ride home last week, and needless to say, it was a battle for the history books: Cute, Innocent, and Precocious versus Bitter, Caustic, and Nihilistic. What follows is a play-by-play of my battle royale.

The Scene: Rohit boards the BART train at the Dublin/Pleasanton station. He is dressed in business professional attire (client demands), tired and visibly agitated. After surveying the train, he takes a seat in the seat furthest from the train doors, and moves in towards the window. A blond woman (Mother) in her thirties enters the train accompanied by her small child, a cute, blond girl approximately four years old in pigtails (Little Girl). Little Girl and Mother sit in the seat directly in front of Rohit, with former at the window and the latter on the aisle. The doors close and the train begins to slowly rumble forward.

Little Girl: (Turning to Mother) Why are we going so fast, Mommy?
Mother: Trains move fast, honey.
Little Girl: But Mommy, where's the road! I don't see a road!
Mother: That's because we're on the overpass, dear.
Little Girl: What's an overpass, Mommy?
Mother: It's a road that goes over another road.

Rohit shifts in his seat slightly, irritated by the incessant questions, and rubs his temples. Little Girl turns around in her seat, kneeling with her arms over the seat back and stares at Rohit quizzically.

Little Girl: Hello, Mister.
Rohit: (Suppressing anger over being accused of warranting a title of Mister) Hello, little girl.
Little Girl: (Reaching out and grabbing Rohit's tie) What's this, Mister?
Rohit: Oh, well, it's a tie. It means I sold my soul to the Man.
Little Girl: (Wide-eyed) Can you do that?
Mother: (Turns around and glares at Rohit) Sit down, Cassie.

Little Girl returns to her seat, and sits quietly for many minutes. The train is traveling between Dublin/Pleasanton and Castro Valley, which takes approximately 20 minutes. Presumably bored of sitting still, Little Girl turns in her seat and re-assumes her interrogation position, kneeling with her arms over the seat back, and once again makes eye contact with Rohit.

Little Girl: (Pointing at Rohit's cuff links) What are those, Mister?
Rohit: Oh, these? (Pulls out a cuff link and shows it to Little Girl) These are cuff links. It means I'm pretentious.
Little Girl: Pretentious?
Rohit: Yes, pretentious. Basically, it means I think I'm better than everyone else, even though, really, I'm not.
Little Girl: Oh. Can I be pretentious too?
Rohit: No, not yet. You have to grow up a little bit.
Mother: Cassandra, sit down!

The remainder of the train ride passes uneventfully. Embarcadero Station arrives, and Rohit gets up to transfer to the dreadful MUNI.

Little Girl: (Excited and waving) Bye, Mister!
Rohit: (This time, returning the smile) Bye, little girl. Have a good day!

So, who won the epic battle between Cute, Innocent, and Precocious and Bitter, Caustic, and Nihilistic this time around? Well, if I do say so myself, I think that day, I took my first victory against the legion of cute kids who have long assailed me. Even if that little girl could not understand my cynical barbs against mainstream society yet, she still got what was likely her first taste of what the real world that awaited her loss of innocence had in store for her: a futile life of mindlessly adding value as yet another expendable corporate drone.

Perhaps she'll be lucky and carry her idealistic and innocent delusions of childhood well past adolescence; then again, I wouldn't want to wish poverty on anybody. Everyone grows up and learns the horrific truth about life some time. Why delay the inevitable? At least, with early education, one can avoid the soul-crushing realization that they are not beautiful and unique snowflakes, and commit themselves to a lifetime of meaninglessness and money-grubbing, as all good little capitalists should. One day, that little girl will no doubt thank me. You should too, dear readers.


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