Likable by Deb Olin Unferth
Aging is the most depressing thing. Youth protects against the wretched awfulness backlash. To be young is to be a bit of a jackass. That’s part of youth. Being a kind and considerable person at an early age is a waste of a childhood. Childhood, the teenage years, the twenties, these are moments to excise the unpleasantness out of one’s system. Given enough time spent being awful suddenly the goodness begins to rise up. Rottenness is part of the growing process. Eventually the rottenness is defeated and the good wholesomeness can shine through. In some cases people refuse to grow up staying the same way for an indefinite period of time. Left alone they will die unloved just like everybody else does.
Poor character in the story fails to understand this basic premise and it is so basic. She chooses to be the same at age forty as she was at age twenty. There’s no room for that kind of error. Adults tend to be of the unforgiving kind. Miserable yet unable to be alone she manages to bother everybody around her. Unpleasantness follows out of her mouth. Out of her pores she secretes wretched vile awfulness. Watching TV the character runs into the same problem. Where there should have been evolution there is only the stagnant. No way exists for her to change her ways. Perhaps she could do it but she clings to an older time when people found her witty.
Humor evolves too. There’s a reason nobody thinks Seinfeld is funny anymore. The guy has hundreds of millions of dollars. He doesn’t need to be funny. If the character had that much money the character could simply insulate herself from her aging inability. For the years pass and she grows older. People tolerate her since that’s what age is all about: holding onto old friends. Much of the aging process involves pining for one’s youth. Despite her inability to please anyone by remaining in arrested development she can relive her youth each and every day. The downside is so can everyone else and everyone else has no desire to do such a thing.
Eventually the character remembers the power of death. Death ends all of that suffering. People grow old. With age comes wisdom. Give a few more years, after wisdom has been achieved and that’s death. For some reason living people hate being surrounded by the dead. Give people a dead person’s art, work, or biography and they are fascinated. Decomposing people are less interesting. Decomposing people get the ground so they may entertain ants and become the true salt of the Earth.