It’s been said that there are dog people and cat people. I’m neither. I’m barely a people person. This is ironic since people occasionally gravitate to me in search of a leader and become disappointed when I don’t pass the Kool-Aid.
I have been known, however, to share the wine and if you’re hip to a Jim Jones-esque experience, the diminutive size of my expense account relative to affordable yet drinkable plonk could very well yield a killer hangover. But I can’t guarantee death. At least not a mass death seeing as our supplies would likely run out between the two of us and, well, two’s company but not a cult.
More to the point, I am not, naturally speaking, a top-dog, alpha-male or über-mensch type anyway – unless I’m alone, which makes me all the above with the added bonus of being a “lone wolf.” Then I’m a total badass until I run into another lone wolf. Inevitably we discuss joining forces and forming our own pack, but running in a pack of lone wolves is rather like attending the anarchy club – oxymoronic at its best, and embarrassing if one actually shows up. (Hey, guys, I brought the Kool-Aid – guys?) To wit, none of my prospective “loner packs” have survived much past a handshake.
I once sat for a so-called “indigo child” whose parents thought he might have natural leadership qualities. This was back when I was a fledgling leader myself with poor pack retention. I figured I could glean some insight from the kid, this “child of the universe,” but his only trick was peeing in the pool and lying about it (this, I reasoned, makes everyone an indigo child).
True leaders, of course, naturally resist fomenting their own competition. That’s why underdogs created concepts like “mentoring,” which is the polite way of learning everything necessary to overthrow the person mentoring you. It’s the natural order of things; it’s damn near organic. I’m wise to this approach, so when I’m obliged to mentor someone I dispense the most egregious advice I can muster.
“Is it okay to drink water from the pool?” you ask.
“Why yes, dear minion,” I say, “The more you drink the wiser you will become.”
I once drowned an intern that way.
There are other approaches for aspirant top-dogs. A pal of mine attempted to become one in a very literal sense: apparently, in the canine world, there’s something akin to the Mason’s “to be one ask one” pitch. He had fallen in a rather rough pack of feral canines – wolves actually – and came down with a nasty case of lycanthropy. Now he does public service announcements:
“Remember, there is no cure for lycanthropy and it may be possible to spread even if there are no symptoms like excessive body hair or a full moon.”
The only headache worse than having a werewolf friend (they eat guacamole right out of the bowl) is when a dog arrives at my doorstep leashed to a (suddenly former) pal of mine, who wants to enter my home. With his dog. Though it’s unpopular to admit, I don’t like animals in my house. It sort of defeats the purpose of living indoors, doesn’t it? I mean we built houses to live apart from the animals, didn’t we?
“But the dog is part of our family,” my friend will protest.
“Then clearly there’s something wrong with your genes,” I mutter as my inner-eugenicist awakens and I have to suppress the urge to have him put down. Until I see those big puppy dog eyes…