Thomas Wictor

How to recognize trouble

How to recognize trouble

In the two weeks encompassing Mom’s funeral and burial, Tim and I had to deal with quite a lot of people. Many of them are the kind we’ve permanently banished from our lives.

Yesterday I woke from a horrendous nightmare that I won’t relate. I was chilled to the bone, my teeth chattering, so I went over to Tim’s house for a thermometer. My body temperature was 95.8˚F. We checked multiple times, but always with the same result. I drank a lot of very hot tea, came home, and slept until the afternoon.

When I got up, I felt as though I were roasting in a microwave. Sweat poured off of me, drenching three shirts in a row. I felt awful on every possible level—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But my new motto is “Do your worst,” so sweaty, dizzy, and nauseated, I plowed ahead with my plan to write a post about Tim’s alluvial shanty.

In Tim’s house I took several photos, including the one below.

Those aren’t dust motes, because they’re not on any of the images before or after this photo. I’ve read and heard of them described as “orbs.” The one on the left certainly looks orblike. It resembles a miniature sun.

Out of curiosity I enlarged and enhanced one of these whatever-they-ares.

It might just be me, but I see an angry face in it. At first I thought it looked kind of like a snarling Bugs Bunny with no ears and a mouthful of human teeth.

Then it reminded me of Split-face in John Carpenters’ classic horror movie The Thing, one of my favorite films. Finally, I settled on a half-rotted zombie man-spaniel. His right eye is just an empty socket in an exposed cheekbone.

No idea if any of this is real. But Tim and I have been dealing with deeply unpleasant people, and yesterday I felt under total assault for hours. Today I’m fine. And I’m not afraid of a zombie man-spaniel that gives me low and then high body temperatures. Do your worst, sonny. You’ll have to pry my computer keyboard from my cold (or hot) dead fingers.

Human troublemakers

Orbs and zombie man-spaniels are one thing, but actual humans are another. Here’s how to recognize trouble. Believe me, when people exhibit these characteristics, it means they regard you as a supporting cast member in some weird performance they’re putting on for an audience only they can see. These are the salient traits of narcissistic personality disorder. There’s no helping those with this condition. Just ease—or kick!—them out of your life.

This isn’t advice. IT’S AN ORDER!

No, I don’t give orders. I’m just sharing my hard-won experience to try and spare you the pain I’ve endured. My orientation makes me attracted to these people. I’m an expert on them, so listen to your Uncle Tommy just this once. It’s the only time I’ll give you unsolicited advice. I’m doing so just because yesterday really sucked, and that zombie man-spaniel might have something to do with my absurd body temperature of 95.8˚F. People who entirely lack empathy might be vessels for God knows what. Or they might not even be human themselves.

Anyway, run away or give them the bum’s rush if they:

1. Engage in endless monologues and find it impossible to listen. This is the equivalent of an air-raid siren, warning you to take cover.

2. Chronically interrupt you, especially to take issue with something you just said.

3. Stop talking and start up again several seconds into your own response, as though you’re saying nothing.

4. Completely change the subject without warning, especially right after you’ve responded to something they brought up.

5. Dominate all conversations and engage in hilarious one-upmanship.

6. Turn away from you while you’re talking to them in order to address someone else.

7. Sit silently and stare instead of responding.

8. Fidget while others are talking.

9. Won’t make eye contact.

10. Go off on long tangents while explaining that they’re going off on long tangents, and then finish with, “Anyway, what were you saying?”

These are all warning signs of massive turbulence ahead. Save yourselves needless angst by immediately ejecting from your lives people who have any of the above ten characteristics. Just do this to them.

It gets easier every time. I promise.

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