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Insert Comma • A Portfolio of Leigh E. Rich

… à la Dorothy Parker

By Leigh E. Rich

Hate. À la Mrs. Dorothy Parker.

Certainly, it goes without saying, no one—man or woman—could craft such lovely hate poems as the irascible Parker. For those who know only of her rabidly biting sayings (“Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses”) and equally feral poems (e.g., “Resume,” “Inventory,” and others from her 1926 collection Enough Rope), Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker published as a hardback compilation in 1996 is an essential—particularly because of the anthology’s inclusion of her so-called “Hymns of Hate.”

Reading through the index of first lines, how could anyone pooh-pooh the darling Parker and her, to name but a few, “I hate Actors,” “I hate Bohemians,” “I hate Bores,” “I hate Husbands,” “I hate Women,” “I hate Slackers,” and, one of my favorites, “I hate College Boys”?

She is, truly, my hero.

And though I, but a neophyte who kneels before the sovereign of sarcasm and scorn, likely do more insult than homage by airing my odious gripes in the same sentence in which I resurrect her name, it’s time in this post-Valentine’s Day sugar high to engage sans restraint.

(In my defense, however, I may be just petulant enough for the job as an ex-boyfriend once characterized me as “charmingly hostile” and, thus, we move ahead.)

• I hate daylight-saving time. This was the very reason I moved to Arizona several years back. While the southwestern state, steeped in political bullheadedness, lacks the glitz and glamour of so many others, at least it’s got its sunny ass together enough to flip off the dictates of a useless agricultural tradition. Now that I reside in conforming Colorado, I refuse to change the clocks in my house, in my car, on my computer. And when people are late meeting me, I simply write them off as lemmings who would jump off sidewalks for a less worthwhile cause.

• I hate couples who bicker in public. C’mon, you can surely pretend, as the saying goes, love is all there is during the restricted hours you’re allowed to disgrace the city streets for us sneering singles who dislike you all anyway. (As Parker once wrote, “Love has gone a-rocking. / That is not the worst; / I could do without the thing, / And not be the first.”)

• I hate couples who bicker during movies. This new detestation comes by way of in vivo experience as I, while viewing the upbeat Monster’s Ball (just the way I like the not-so-silver screen), suffered through the obnoxious tag-team snoring and nudging of the pair behind me. “Snrup, snrup, snrup,” breathes the man. “Honey, honey, wake up,” says the woman who apparently failed Whispering 101 in preschool. “The two of you should sleep, make out, or leave, just not here,” thinks the perturbed student who paid $8 to have the fortunate opportunity to sit near you.

• I hate lactose. This seemingly innocuous sugar cost me $900 and several hours in a Tucson emergency room one night I’d rather forget—after, of course, years of being misdiagnosed by physicians who never thought to ask how I felt following a glass of milk. Enough said.

• I hate puppies who eat the living room carpet. OK, so I couldn’t ever truly engender animosity toward my adorable poocheroo, but as I told her, “I love you, just not now.”

• I hate doors to public restrooms. Who was the brainy engineer who decided on the whole “push to enter, pull to exit” design? We all know not everyone dutifully washes las manos after wiping, creating the compulsory-yet-comical need to telekinetically will the door open and scream, “Look ma, no hands!”

• I hate stop signs. Or, rather, the American public too stupid to understand the rules of the road. No, when the intersection is full, you may not directly proceed following your half-assed attempt to bring your vehicle to a full and complete halt.

• I hate Hollywood. And how it deems the American public too uncouth to appreciate true literary tragedy. The recent film wreckage of Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo—one of the greatest revenge stories of all time—forgos the 19th-century author’s key contributions, the count’s passionless and plotted revenge and his inevitable and miserable demise, for the standard damsel-in-distress, must-be-wedding-bells wrap-up.

• I hate the excessively optimistic. For those of you out there, remember hate, too, has its place. According to Mrs. Parker, “Dig me for the narrow bed, / Now I am bereft. / All my pretty hates are dead, / And what have I left?”

Rich, L. E. (2002, February 20). Hate, à la Dorothy Parker. CU-Denver Advocate.

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