The Asshats live on a regular street, in a regular town, in a large housing subdivision just like any other; they have travertine in their shower, granite in their kitchen, and ice in their veins. And–unfortunately–they might have the same zip code as you. They could live next door to you, maybe even in a house that looks just like yours. And if they do, you probably don’t know it. You could catch them red-handed one day, even, asshatting about the backyard or somesuch, but you won’t see it–you will just smile and wave, and go back to grilling your steak. You will assume they are nice, normal people, if you even bother to think about them at all.
But they aren’t nice, normal people. They are asshats.
You see, the only way that you can recognize them as asshats is to take note of the giant, magnificently trimmed hats that they wear. Well, that and the fact that they tend to eat their young. But the hats, which are constructed almost entirely of asses, are invisible to the naked eye. That is what makes them so special. This kind of specialized asshat is a status symbol (among asshats), and for the seasoned practitioner of asshattery, wearing it is akin to savoring the rarest of delicacies, or delighting in knowing the secret handshake to the choosiest of private clubs. Since asshats move up in the world through the sweat of their brow, it is rare that you meet an asshat who isn’t self-made; sure, there is the odd asshat whose rise stems from nepotism and his second-hand connections to high-ranking asshat officials, but such individuals are easily spotted and their visibility makes them less threatening to the unsuspecting citizen.
It is the ones you can’t see that you have to worry about.
Asshats are all over the place, you see. And in general, the bigger the hat, the more accomplished the asshat. But to wear the invisible asshat means that you have that something special: that you are something special, even if only to other asshats. Because true, dyed-in-the-wool asshats do not care about anybody else. They do not even care about each other, really, but they need each other to survive. Without each other, they would be royally screwed, because let’s face it, nobody else is going to put up with their bullshit. And unremarkability is essential to their strength as a group. Because it is only inside the confines of a seemingly normal, average, and unremarkable existence that asshattery can really bloom. In such situations, each subsequent asshat becomes more spectacular than the one that came before it, and the strength of the hive of asshats is multiplied exponentially by their proximity to one another.
Asshats, like alcoholics, believe in the power of the group. “I can’t. We can,” they are fond of saying.
Most people never acquire the ability to recognize these true asshats, because it takes a leap of faith (or something like faith, but in reverse) to believe in asshattery despite the appearance of innocence. In fact, once you are able to make out the borders of their asshattery, you can point them out to your friend. You can even go so far as to describe the particular curvature of the ass on the hat in great detail, sparing no 50-cent word in your depiction, but she will never see it. And if you do this, if you openly accuse them of wearing invisible asshats, people are just as likely to think you are crazy, or just an asshat yourself.
So if you’re unlucky enough catch one, then I guess you should know it is a little like being expelled from the garden of Eden. And then being dropped directly into the Garden of Good and Evil. Except the evil part of the garden is always highlighted, for the rest of your life, in fluorescent green, and the good always appears in a tiny, overly ornate serif font that you cannot read without special glasses. The good news is that, forever after this, you will know them for what they are. So when they agree to something and later change their story, or if they do something rude and pretend it was a misunderstanding, or even if they try to damage or destroy the most precious of your possessions–well, at least you know that hey, I made a deal with an asshat. What did I expect?
But others aren’t so lucky, and they can’t see them coming or going. And as a result, they will keep helping them along their asshat ways, boosting them when they are down, encouraging them when they are in need, and making excuses for them when they fail. Do not pity them, and do not try to warn them. Take it from me, the best you can do is just cross the street.