Apocalypse Yesterday: A Word on California (Part 2)

californiaI’m sorry, but I’m going to need five more minutes of your time to talk about California.  I don’t usually like asking for extra time like this, but the state has the girth and ego of three states so there’s really no way I could describe the full extent of its problems in a single article.

It is a known fact that God has been trying to destroy California for some time now.  Conservative pundits are quick to remind us that the state is riding a slip-n-slide straight into the Pacific, which to their way of thinking can only be explained by the existence of Sodom Francisco.  Geologists offer up some Discovery Channel mumbo-jumbo about why this is happening, but anyone who’s ever sat through a college geology course knows that listening to a geologist is almost never worth it.  Between the earthquakes, the mudslides, the bear attacks, the fires, The Hills, and the terrorists on Alcatraz, it’s hard to deny that God is doing everything in his power to get rid of The Golden State.  (To be fair, many believe this is only because He wants an unobstructed shot at Las Vegas.)

Why this ire?  Why this unleashing of righteous judgment?  I can think of only one reason: the people.  In the same way that the rest of the world might be a tolerable place to visit were it not for all the foreigners, California might be a half-decent place to live were it not for all the Californians.  You may have heard that Californians suck, and I can tell you that what you’ve heard is true.  However, they don’t suck for the reasons you may think.  When Christians (read: Midwesterners) celebrate the imminent demise of the Bear Flag Republic, it is usually because they’ve heard that Perez Hilton lives there.  While it’s true that California has become a veritable Petri dish of vanity, VD, and V-necks, those are not my primary complaints with the the people.  The true scourge of the Californian is stated eloquently by Chuck Klosterman in his better-than-decent book Killing Yourself To Live.

I don’t care if 85% of [California] is stupid.  I can deal with stupid.  My problem is that every stupid person in [California] is also (a) unyieldingly narcissistic and (b) unyieldingly nice.  They have somehow managed to combine raging megalomania with genuine friendliness.  It’s a combination that infects your blood like leukemia…you find yourself admiring people you hate…

California has created a new and terrifying breed of douchebag: the likeable douche.  You go to the beach and see a guy wearing a hoodie with no shirt underneath playing Jack Johnson songs on his guitar to no one but himself and you arrive at the only possible conclusion, “I should probably hate that guy.”  Having established this as your point of reference, it is disorienting when you bump into that same guy at the fish taco stand and discover that he’s really digging “what you got going on” and is intensely interested in “your deal.”  In fact, the only thing he’s more into than “your deal” is his own deal, specifically, the way his deal looks in board shorts.

Californians, particularly those of the Southern variety, are infected with a baffling blend of kindness and egomania can only be attributed to relentless sunshine, recreational Hinduism, and easy access to high-quality marijuana.  Chances are good that anyone you interact with in Southern California will be one of the nicest people you’ve ever met.  Chances are also good that a five minute conversation with one of them will feature at least 15 hand runs through playfully tussled hair, several dozen glances into the nearest reflective surface, and repeated references to how sweet various aspects of their life are.

This unique cocktail of engagement and arrogance is concerning because it numbs our innate attack/avoid instinct when encountering douches.  Anywhere else in America, if you met a guy with a guitar and a Jack Johnson song you would either punch him in the face or go sit on the other side of the dorm lobby.  Not so in California.  Here you find yourself conversing with him about surf competitions and whether or not a tortilla wrap that doesn’t contain “guac” can actually be called a burrito.  Before you know it, the two of you have purchased matching cruiser bikes and you’re feeling the urge to work on your “beach bod.”

This is the danger of the Californian.  He cannot be placed in either of humanity’s two mutually exclusive camps: douchebags and decent people.  Generations of inbreeding have created an unholy mutant that is neither douche nor decent yet somehow both at once.  This is why California must be destroyed.  Should this conflation of personality types spread to other states, the American way of life might come crashing to the ground.  In a world where we can no longer trust our presidents, governors, baseball players, or Associations of Community Organizations for Reform Now to whom will we turn if our preconceived notions of goodness and doucheness turn out to be false as well?

California is waging a war on my social paradigms, and that is why I’m rooting for its imminent demise.  People need categories.  We need stereotypes and visual signals by which to recognize and categorize strangers on the street.  When I see a dude in a giant pickup truck with a bicep tat, a Jamba Juice, and a visor, I want, I need, him to be a prick.  I don’t want him to be sincere, generous, or in any way interested in me as a person.  At this point in my life, mountains, trees, and large bodies of water are confusing enough.  If one more Jason Mraz fan on a Vespa turns out to be cool, I don’t think I’m going to make it.

Note: I don’t own the rights to that picture and I’m not sure who does.  If it’s yours, let me know and I’ll give you all the credit you can handle.

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