Judging Your Jerk: The Thomas Hardy Method

May 14th, 2010 | By | Category: Columns, Eileen: This is Your Brain On...

We all have a special jerk in our lives. It could be your sibling, your significant other, a parent, a friend, a co-worker or your brother’s neighbor’s cousin’s sister-in-law’s wife. A jerk like this is hard to shake, so you’ve learned to accept, even love your jerk for the stupid-face she/he is (at least until the correctional institution, mental asylum or nursing home takes over).

But we all could use a guide on how to decipher the next move of our jerk. And one should really look no further then a man who made a career about writing about jerks and being sad all the time:

Thomas Hardy.

Thomas Hardy: Supreme Jerk Analyst

Now, we at Defenestration HQ love Thomas Hardy (Genevieve even made an abridged classic of Jude the Obscure). At the Dining Table of Great Authors Long Since Past, we would totally squeeze in right next to Hardy and listen to his tales of sorrow, helping ourselves to all the jelly beans. (Later we’ll be kicked out for drinking all the absinthe.)

But Thomas Hardy wasn’t just an awesome author who wrote about the moral complexities of life, he knew a lot about jerktitude. Therefore I have gathered some of his works together in a study of my very own. (I even wore my glasses! The lenses are made out of stained glass so I look like Liberace.)

Please remember that the words below offer no answers on how to deal with your jerk–mostly because Hardy’s resolution to everything was death, abject poverty and/or general human suffering. Squeee!

Book: Jude the Obscure
Character: Jude Fawley
“The Unlucky Jerk”

Oh my God, this guy/girl! Always with the terrible things happening! Why can’t someone who makes bad decisions (re: marry his/her cousin), catch a break?

As I have already mentioned, Genevieve already brilliantly dissected the film version of Jude the Obscure and I have to agree with her assessment with Jude. He is the Jerk who, unwittingly, just brings you down. He’s all “Man, my shower is all clogged up, so I used your toothbrush to fish out all the hair,” or “My girlfriend dumped me. I was so depressed I slept with yours.”

Book: Mayor of Casterbridge
Character: Michael Henchard
“The Jerk Who Won’t Stop Yelling”

You would feel bad for this Jerk if he/she just kept his/her voice down. Also? If he/she would just admit they were wrong, and learn from his/her mistakes instead of continuing to be a blustering jerk.

For instance: this is the type of Jerk who gets drunk, vomits on your shirt and then says you deserve it because you’re always nagging and you were asking for it. (but at least the Jerk version of Michael Henchard won’t sell you to a sailor, cuz there are laws against that now. In some places).

This Jerk is the worst jerk of the bunch. He/she is loud, authoritarian and manipulative. You probably can’t get away from this Jerk because he/she is your boss, long-lost parent or dog walker. You just can’t get rid of them (maybe you can sell him/her? No wait, there are laws against that now. In some places). He/she is like a limb you can’t remove (unless you’re me and you can get it removed. Take that, third ear!).

Book: The Woodlanders
Character: Giles Winterborne
“The Jerk with No Common Sense”

The sweetest Jerk evah! But a Jerk because he/she is so, so dumb, and believes that love can save us all! Sure it can, Giles Winterborne, but it can’t save you from pneumonia when you refuse to sleep in the same house as the woman you love because she’s married to another man and that would ruin her reputation so you sleep outside in torrential rain and die as a result. But so romantic!

You might initially think this Jerk is the greatest person evah! Until you have to gently explain that, yes, waiting patiently while you get ready for a date is all well and good, but please don’t sit in the garage with the door shut and the car running. Or, how sweet of you to put your jacket down over a puddle for me, but please don’t do that when a car going 40 mph is headed straight for us.

If this Jerk does die, be sure to have these words on his/her epitaph: “Well, they tried!”

Book: Tess of the D’ubevilles
Character: Angel Clare
“Can’t Count on Me Jerk”

Is your Jerk full of lofty goals, hot like the sun (only the best looking people threaten your retinas), and holds grudges because you may or may not have unwillingly sexed some other guy/girl (or, forgot to take out the garbage)? Then your Jerk is Angel Clare, beautiful man and self-righteous stuffed shirt. Sure he’s a “smooth operator” (sing it Sade!), but you can’t count on him. Cuz when the heat is on, this Jerk burns out and high tails it–either to Brazil or some other exotic location like Prince Edward Island. This Jerk will certainly always come back to you (like a shameless boomerang), but it’s always too little too late. My advice? Sex up this Jerk and move on (don’t forget to take pictures).

Book: Far from the Madding Crowd
Character: The Sheepdog
“The Jerk That Ruins Your Well Thought Out Plans Because He/She is Involved With The Hand of Fate or Some Other Bullshit”

Do you know a jerk that sent your life into a tailspin, all because of his/her incompetence? Then the sheepdog from Far from the Madding Crowd is your Jerk-animal.

Don’t let the adorable fuzzy-wuzziness of this Jerk fool you! He/she is totally going to ruin your life. In the novel, this adorable Jerk ran all of Gabriel Oak’s sheep off a cliff, throwing Oak into a tailspin of poverty and sad sadness.

This puppy will ruin your life.

In your life, your Jerk might drunkenly ram into your car while parking his/hers, leaving you unable to perform your spectacular duties at the Law Firm or Dairy Queen. You walk to work, because you really need this job to help pay off your third ear surgery. While trudging down the highway, a clown car passes by and you are struck in the face and body by over a dozen banana cream pies because the twenty-five clowns in the car wanted to practice their aim before the next Big Top Show. When you finally arrive at the Law Firm, your boss takes in your disarrayed state and tells you that you will no longer be scooping ice cream in his office. Broke, you quickly default on your third ear surgery bill and have to move into a shanty town, which happens to be right next to a banana cream pie factory. The End.

Wow, that’s a lot of jerks. I hope this was an educational experience. Now, off to fill out some job applications. It’s so hard finding a law firm that enjoys chicken wing ice cream as much as I do.

———-

Eileen still enjoys puppies, even if they might inexplicably kill her.

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