“Are You a JALK?” by Bill Kitcher

Jun 7th, 2023 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

There’s a common type of person, known to all people, who is regularly referred to in a pejorative sense. He or she is the lowest form of human and is looked down on even by people who are also this combination of human being and refuse, even though they may not recognize the terrible qualities in themselves.

Sometimes, this person is called a “jerk”, but “jerk” isn’t insulting enough for most people. A “jerk” could simply be someone who makes a minor, although annoying, error in judgment, and doesn’t reflect how strongly people feel about this type of person.

“Asshole” is a term commonly used, and was certainly popularized by Aaron James’ book. But this epithet isn’t appreciated by people who don’t like vulgarity, and isn’t accurate according to proctologists, who take a different viewpoint. In addition, “asshole” can be used as a term of affection when referring to a friend who has just made a deliberately inappropriate remark or a bad pun or a bad joke such as suggesting that Jean-Jacques Rousseau played for the Montreal Canadiens. (He didn’t; he played for Detroit.)

Often, the term “loser” is applied, but sometimes that’s just a poor sports team and sometimes it’s applied to someone for whom you could feel sorry, so it doesn’t necessarily have the negative connotation that you might desire.

Other words come to mind, such as “idiot”, “flake”, “d-bag”, “dingleberry” and several words of the four-letter variety often beginning with the letter “c”, but the first three cited above cover mostly what we’re looking for here, so I would like to humbly suggest a new word, an amalgam of the aforementioned.

We take the first letter of the three words (“jerk”, “asshole”, “loser”) but we can’t stop there because people will confuse what we’re discussing with Japan Air Lines, by all accounts a very reputable company and not a group of people we wish to libel.

In my personal life, I’ve often been referred to by these terms (and many others) to the point where certain friends now say about these reprehensible humans, “He’s such a Kitcher”.

So my suggestion is that we add a “K” and now refer to the subject of this essay as a JALK.

(Another acronym many have suggested is made up of the following words: Flake Loser And Predominantly Jerk Asshole C*** Kitcher. But if you go around referring to someone as a FLAPJACK, he/she might get the wrong idea.) So JALK it is.

You just have to look around our society to easily identify those who are JALKs. A significant number of NFL and NBA players are JALKs; one of the reasons may be because they’re such big men, and it’s difficult for the heart to pump blood all the way up to the brain.

Characters in horror movies are all JALKs. They go into basements and attics that don’t have light bulbs, they don’t believe in vampires and werewolves when they clearly inhabit an alternate world in which monsters exist, and, worst of all, they split up to look for their missing friend, thus leading to their inevitable demises, one by one. That’s a really JALK move.

Most new couples are JALKs. Just observe the way they look at each other, giggle into each other’s ears, and can’t keep their hands off each other, even in public. Truly JALK behaviour.

Babies. Does anything more need to be said about babies? JALKs, every one of them, unable to complete the simplest tasks except for eating and excreting.

It’s likely that the question you’re looking to have answered is this: are you a JALK?

If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably thinking you’re a JALK already. I can assure you; you are. But you’re also probably wondering how you became a JALK or how you could become more of a JALK.

If you’re already offended, and maintain that you’re not a JALK and that you’re only curious about how other people become JALKs, then, let’s face it, you have to be a JALK to think something like that.

Some people have asked me why I’m writing this, and other people have suggested that it’s obvious that I’m writing this because I’m a JALK. To the first group, I say that’s a really JALK thing to ask, and to the second group, I say that’s a really JALK thing to say.

It’s not your fault you’re a JALK. You couldn’t help it and, in fact, it couldn’t have been helped because you had only a minor role in your path to becoming a full-fledged JALK.

If you’ve ever said to yourself, even once, “my dad’s a JALK”, then you must realize that your JALK-ness is genetic. If you think that your dad has never been a JALK, then you’re not paying attention, and that’s a really JALK thing to do. What do you really know about his formative years when he was undoubtedly a JALK? Have scientists ever come across a teenager who wasn’t a JALK at some point?

Maybe you’re now admitting to yourself that perhaps your dad was a JALK, but you protest that your mom is perfect, and has never been a JALK. Think again. She must have been some kind of JALK to marry your dad.

If it’s even remotely possible that your dad or mom aren’t JALKs, then your grandfather or grandmother or some other ancestor likely was, because history is full of JALKs, and it’s impossible that your family was exempt from that. Research on empires, the Crusades, subjugation of peoples, environmental degradation, etc. indicates that none of these could have even been attempted without a lot of JALKs.

You’re probably wondering if it’s possible that a JALK can turn into a non-JALK, can somehow reverse the genetic JALKiness that has been thrust upon them. Read some history books. It’s never happened.

It’s possible that you still insist that you’re not a JALK, but you’re curious about what to do in case you decide at some point that you would like to be a JALK. That’s a fairly JALK line of questioning to take, but I can answer that. It’s quite simple: be yourself.


Bill Kitcher thinks he must be some kind of JALK because this is the 3rd time he’s been published in Defenestration. His novel, Farewell And Goodbye, My Maltese Sleep, will be published in 2023 by Close To The Bone Publishing.

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