My Name Isn’t Earl

You know the kind of lady who makes pretty tame mistakes, but then crucifies herself for them? Well, that’s me.

It doesn’t matter how many good deeds I do, if I can’t acknowledge the fact that I do bad things too, Karma will do it for me. My name is Alex, not Earl, and I am a goodie-two-shoes. I have never been arrested, nor have I starred in at least three Alvin and the Chipmunks films, although that doesn’t mean I cannot strive to be a better person too. Until now, the closest I’ve gotten to Earl is my tea of choice—French Earl Grey, get on it—but this week, that’s going to change.

This is my list of wrongs, and I have got seven days to make them all right.

  1. Gave monthly donations predominantly to absolve my first-world guilt.
  2. Gave Cassie $4 for a hot beverage that probably cost her closer to $5.
  3. Was needlessly defiant to one of my high school teachers.
  4. Cheated on my dog by petting another and letting her sniff the evidence on my sleeves.
  5. Accidentally put two Honey Gold mangoes through the self-service checkout as being of the R2E2 variety instead (*sad beep*), which were on special that day, thus short-changing Coles by a dollar or two.
  6. Poured a poorly-made pina colada into a potted plant, likely resulting in its death.
  7. Took a unique stein from a bar to give as a cost-effective birthday present.
  8. Stained my dad’s carpet with hair dye and left it too long before cleaning it up.
  9. Pretended to understand a reference Troy made to a celebrity. Didn’t.
  10. Took an amazing purple corduroy jacket and an endless amount of phone chargers from my workplace’s lost property.
  11. Accidentally pushed someone down a flight of stairs.
  12. Told a homeless person I didn’t have any change when really, it was late at night and I felt too nervous to get my wallet out.
  13. Told a man that I was married to the sea when really, I was just queer and cold and not interested.
  14. Mooched all the drugs I’ve ever consumed.
  15. Farted on countless peak-hour trains.
  16. Took an interactive Iron Man action figure from a primary school’s lost property.
  17. Said I’d finished Infinite Jest when I definitely haven’t. (How much free time do people think I have?)
  18. Tried to use someone else’s electric toothbrush as a sex toy.
  19. Planted my hair in someone’s food to ruin their meal.
  20. Ruined two perfectly good strands of spaghetti by threading them through my nipple piercing holes and seeing if they would cook while I showered (they did, and I overcooked them).

This is pretty daunting. Where do I start? By marrying the sea, to retroactively make my flimsy excuse a reality? Maybe not. I don’t want to drown in an ocean of King Nep’s pre-nups, and let’s face it, the sea probably has plenty of suitors already. Wet-suitors, even.

I ended up dipping my toes into the most practically achievable tasks first.  

I gave an extra donation this month, and — in the hopes of karmic mercy — I didn’t use it as an excuse to ease my first world guilt; I ensured I felt guilty anyway. I apologised to my high school teacher via Facebook message. Sincerely. I’m proud of that. I bought my dog a “sorry for cheating on you” gift. It’s strewn across the house in shreds of displaced betrayal and silenced squeakers. She’s awesome. I gave some change to people who need it more, overcharged myself at Coles, and spritzed Rose Water, Aloe and Herb spray on the train each day to freshen the air I had so often stanked up. I put a little bow on the carpet stain I made – now it looks beautiful! I even left a unique drinking vessel on the table at a bar as a donation. It was a Lego Movie cup. My Lord Business one, not my Metalbeard one. I felt bad for my past kleptomania, but not that bad. Oh, and I finished Infinite Jest! (No I didn’t. But I read another chapter-plus-two-scenes, so… almost, basically! Kinda. Look, I’m getting there.)

I found that there were some cases where I attempted a literal opposite of my wrong deed, but that didn’t necessarily bear good consequences either. Accidentally pushing someone down a flight of stairs was not great of me, but I didn’t exactly amend my error by deliberately pushing someone up a flight of stairs. I did it consensually though, which is always important. Planting hair in someone’s meal is bad, but so is planting their meal in my hair. It doesn’t work that way. That was a hard lesson to swallow, but not as hard as swallowing that meal.                                    

I think the heart of this exercise can be summed up nicely with “it’s the thought that counts”. It’s crucial to strive to be good to others, but life isn’t an equilibrium of giving and taking, or mistakes and forgiveness. Not that it should be one-sided either, but usually, it’s just a little messy. And sometimes that’s okay.

I’m a good person, but I’m no moral dream. I’m more like an absurd nightmare – the one that’s not particularly scary, but wakes you up slightly dizzy and thinks, “Man, I need to stop eating wheels of cheese before bed.” So I might as well embrace it, because honestly, when is that ever going to happen?

Words by Alex Creece

IG – @roguedyke

Art by Cassie Stevens

IG – @soggysavoy

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