Conversations With John: Part 1

John and I go way back. We met our freshman year in college and hit it off, rooming together for the remainder of our undergraduate education. I’m not sure why we hit it off so well as we were and still are an odd couple. John comes from money and by that I mean his family is filthy rich. Richie Rich type rich. That, however is not why I like him. I like John because he is so thoroughly and unabashedly who he is that I can’t help but like him.

I don’t come from money but that’s only one reason we’re an odd couple. I love to watch professional sports. John hates pro sports and will only occasionally watch any sports related television. John’s version of watching sports is watching downhill skiing every four years during the winter olympics. John is 6′ 3″. I’m 5′ 8″ on a good day. John loves to shop for just about anything. I suppose having ridiculously large amounts of money might have something to do with that. I hate shopping for everything other than my next meal. Not having hardly any money might have something to do with that.

John is gay, I am not. John is also of Chinese ancestry and I’m thoroughly mutt American of Scandinavian decent. So, the guy I consider one of my best friends, if not my best friend is a large gay chinese guy with boat loads of money.

Despite our differences, or maybe because of them, we’ve always been good friends since the day we met and he’s one of the few people from my college years that I regularly keep up with. Five or six times a year we manage to get together for the afternoon or an evening to catch up and I look forward to these occasions not unlike a kid looks forward to Christmas or his birthday.

John and I are both dyed in the wool Darwinists although his version of survival of the fittest doesn’t quite jibe with mine. More on that in a minute. We both believe in evolution and natural selection. I can’t believe I actually have to state that but in this day and age I think it’s required. You have to show your creds up front so people know what side your on. Anyway, we see completely eye to eye on Mr. Darwin’s theories.

Last Friday, John and I were able to meet up for one of our get togethers. We decided to meet at one of our old college hang outs: the Peanut Room. I live about an hour away so I just drove up after work. John, of course, flew in on his private jet. The Peanut Room was never a high class joint to begin with but they always stocked fresh ice in the non-functional urinals. 20 years later and things haven’t changed much although on this Friday night they either forgot to or just plain don’t fill the urinals with ice anymore. Sad.

The place was pretty much as it had been back in college although I don’t think it’s as popular as it was back then. John and I comprised fully half it’s patrons on a Friday night. Good thing John’s a good tipper. We caught up over warm tap Miller Lights and of course peanuts in the shell that you crack and then just throw the shells on the floor. My theory on why the Peanut Room allowed this was that all the peanut shells would cushion any falls drunken college students would at some point inevitably take. John’s theory was that the bar owner knew that trying to contain peanut shells would’ve been folly and since eating salty peanuts led to more beer drinking and thus more sales, it was just plain common sense to let patrons throw their shells on the floor. Having taken more than a few falls to said floor back in the day I knew my theory was bullshit and John was no doubt right on the money.

We inevitably made our way around to politics, a subject we both always promised to avoid but never did.  Naturally, John is a conservative. I’m more of what I’d call a centrist but I know John sees me as a flaming red liberal. I truly do take platform planks from both sides of the isle which of course makes candidates from either party pretty much unpallitble to me in most elections. I’ve taken to writing myself in most of the time.

After throwing America’s myriad problems and each of our solutions back and forth for a while John started hinting at something that he couldn’t quite come right out and say. I’d known him to do this on many occasions if he thought what he was thinking and about to say would offend me. Early on in our friendship after I’d witnessed this few times I’d just call him out on it. It didn’t work as he’d sidestep and change the subject. I would try to steer our conversation back to where he was headed but he’d have nothing to do with it so I learned to just let it go. Eventually, if not that day then shortly thereafter he’d get around to telling me so it was pointless for me to try to get him to talk until he was ready.

“Do you remember Social Darwinism?” John asked me. “Vaguely.” I said. “I remember that equating the struggle of social groups against each other with biological processes, natural selection and survival of the fittest was pretty much given over to the fascists and not a generally accepted social theory” I added.

John paused, wrinkled his forehead in thought and said “I know and agree that when applied to groups of people Social Darwinism fails all logic and reason but what if you applied it to individuals who then made up classes of people?”

“What are you getting at?” I asked. He paused as if he were going to change the subject and I could tell that he was struggling with whether or not to continue, and then he came out with it. “I think rich people are better than everyone else, not because having money somehow makes you better but because the simple fact that you have money shows that you are the fittest and that you have been naturally selected to survive”.

Not wanting to outright laugh at his statement I said “come again?”

“I think just like any other heritable trait, being wealthy is selected for and thus rich people are more fit to survive.” I studied him for a minute and he said “Think about it. We have everything we could possibly need to make our lives comfortable and easy. We have access to and can afford the best health care. Unlike most people we have the time to devote to taking care of our selves and pursing stimulating physical and mental activities. For the most part we have no stress and can live a carefree, happy-go-lucky existence that the average person can only dream of. All that logically has to produce traits that are selected for over time.” “Our lifestyle, and by that I mean our standard of living and how we actually live day to day, favor our survival over the rest of the population.”

 

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