Wikipedia describes envy as a malicious resentment in which the envious wishes to take a perceived asset or strength from another, but I’m really fairly benevolent. You can have your strength, too – I just want to get mine. I’m not envious of your house, your car, your salary or your tits. I’m envious of your brain.
It started at age three, when I raced outside hollering at my mother to come quick because there was a wild animal loose in the house. She saw the terror in my eyes and asked me what it was, needing to know what to sort of weapon to brandish upon reentering the house.
"It’s a hippopotamus!" I yelled breathlessly.
It was a chipmunk.
My parents had one black friend when I was a kid because I think it’s required but also in their defense there were only three in Minnesota at the time. Our black friend Tony was a pretty dark-skinned fella and I adored him, probably because I knew how big my ass would later become and I could sense the appreciation I’d later experience from his other black friends.
Toney played softball with my dad. And all the other pasty computer programmers of the early 80s.
Yet when the team turned around to trot out to the field, I’d ask my mom where Tony went…because I could not differentiate him from the others if he was not facing me. I like to believe it’s because my heart was open and didn’t see race or creed, but my mother probably just wondered if I was mildly retarded.
Then there was the time I was holding the cat. Stroking her as she purred on my lap, I felt a lump.
"OH MY GAWD, IT’S A TUMOR!" I shrieked in dismay at the idea of losing her to a valiant but tragic battle with cancer. I imagined bottlefeeding her during her nauseous post-chemo days, petting her gently as she wasted away.
But then I was shown the other seven tumors, which are apparently also known in the medical community as nipples.
Now you might be thinking that these are simply the cute stories of any precocious child and you could possibly be right.
Except that the nipple thing happened about this summer.
So, yeah, I’m envious.
I’m envious, all right.
I’m envious of the people whose brains make them sackloads of money. Whose brains invent modern conveniences and cure terrible ailments. I’m envious of those whose brains challenge the way the next generation thinks and I’m envious of those whose brains know the difference between a chipmunk and a hippo.
But mostly I’m envious of those whose brains have brought them further in life than my nipple brain has gotten me.
And I’m envious of those who figured out a little earlier than I did that of course your mother tells you that you’re smart.
Her only shot at getting you out of her basement is if you’re smart enough to get past all the hippos, black people and tumors on your way out.