All men are born equal…

What amused Dylan most of all was people making fools of themselves, or in some way demonstrating their flaws, weaknesses, limitations and insecurities. It might be something very little – somebody dropping their knife or making an odd noise when they sneezed – but Dylan would laugh long and loud. And it was pointed. It went on too long, was too loud to be ignored or treated as an expression of good humour and ebullience. He was laughing at you. Because you are a twat. 

He seemed to revel in indignity. He once showed me a clip of two grubby, unkempt men sitting in what looked like a dingy bedsit. One of them kept setting fire to the other’s tangled shock of grey hair that stood straight up from the top of his head. It was so greasy it burnt like candle wick, and the victim was so wasted he couldn’t work out what was happening. I have rarely seen anything that depressing; Dylan found it hilarious. 

He wasn’t saying he was better than you. He felt the same disdain and derision for himself. He was reassuring himself that everyone else was a moron, too. That was why he was unrepentant about it: He felt he was expressing solidarity. 

Yet it was undeniably belittling. He was dragging you down to join him in the hole of his self-hatred. This was evident in his aggression and defensiveness, if he was challenged. You’d get a sudden burst of his acute vulnerability. His standard response was to say, “Well, I don’t give a fuck. Honestly, I really don’t give a fuck” (and I’d say, quietly, in brotherhood, “yeah, but you do, don’t you?” and he’d not deny it.)

During the Snack-For-Santa debate, when I was trying to defend the poor care assistant, I said, “Mince pie: sausage roll: what does it matter what you leave out for Santa? He’s not even real! I don’t see why it’s funny.”

Speaking calmly and smiling, Dylan said, “Jesus, Xan, lighten the fuck up for once! Take the fucking rod out from up your hole, for fuck’s sake”. 

The other patients made anxious, uncomprehending attempts at laughter, trying to fake a connection, a sense of community they no longer understood.

On another occasion, somebody mentioned that Dylan had red hair (It’s a dark auburn). He flatly denied this. I was surprised because he clearly is. Coming from Ireland, where 10 – 30% of the population are redheads[1], I wasn’t aware that there was any stigma attached to the colouring, but, apparently, in England it can get you bullied. 

I said, “But, Dylan, you are red haired. What’s wrong with that?” 

He replied, in sombre and unsmiling tones, “Fuck you. You’re a fucking cunt. Seriously, Xan, you’re a fucking cunt.”  

I said, “Are you genuinely upset or are you teasing me?”

He just smiled enigmatically. I never found out. 


[1] According to ABC news in 2014, using statistics from a genetics-mapping website, Eupedia. 

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