God-Believing Public: We were offended that you had George W. Bush on the list of slackers with Karl Marx.
Logged-In Public: We were offended—now that we know someone else has been offended—by having Bush on the Slacker List at all.
"I was offended you had me on the slacker list," Joe Tragedy comments.
"I was offended you were championing the slack mentality," says Frank Weathers, "over attaining some form of success achievement."
"I was offended by not being on your list," says Wal-terr, the pesky bartender.
"I'm offended that all of you think my son offended you," says Honey McNulty.
Honey, you're not the Sardine's mother.
"You need a mother's protection," says Honey.
It doesn't matter.
G-B P: You're not going to apologize?
The Sardine can't respect anyone who believes he or she has been offended. Like feeling jealousy, your being offended is a self-created condition. You are responding to an imaginary assault on to your equally imaginary moral universe.
G-B P: But putting Marx and Bush on the same list. . . .
When did W. Become a member of the Holy Family? Besides, he wasn't being called a Marxist.
L-I P: How can a President be a slacker? He was a governor first.
Is it that outrageous a concept? As an historical quirk, W's lack of initiative or drive or self-motivation is the stuff of novels and movies. In fact, it was a movie!! Not that Oliver Stone unraveled the enigma wrapped in a conundrum hidden inside a commander-in-chief.
G-B P: Bush is an evangelical Christian. Marx is an atheist.
They're both males and had families.
G-D P: You should respect a person's religion and not associate a good Christian with a heathen.
The Sardine intrinsically disrespects all beliefs. As a starting point. Especially his own. That's why when people ANNOUNCE that they are offended by some comment or behavior, the Sardine must ignore the moralistic narcissism.
L-I P: You've never been offended by something?
Bothered, perturbed, outraged, dumbfounded. Never offended. If I ever was, I would relegate the feeling to the "Process of Elimination". As for Frank's, Wal-terr's, Joe T.'s, and Honey's reactions, they're hardly be deemed weighty enough to worry about.
"You can't dismiss my wife like that," says McNulty.
My friend, you dismiss her like that all the time.
"When other people do it, I'm offended."
"The Sardine's trying to big time the rest of us by talking about Presidents of the United States," Frank comments.
L-I P: Frank's offended when he's not portrayed in one of the columns.
G-B P: We should all stay calm and not get angry with each other.
"No one wants to hear that crap," says Wal-terr.
G-B P: Wal-terr's very existence is offensive.
"In what way?"
G-B P: You live a sinful life. You offend society with many of your predilections.
"I wouldn't go that far," says Frank.
"I would," says Joe T.
Looks like the God-Believers have one of you, Wal-terr. Don't you remember some of the problems you've had with the authorities in Sardine 26?
"He offended the F.B.I.," Joe T. butts in.
He, in fact, assaulted an off-duty agent.
G-B P: The Sardine lacks any sense of honor.
That's exactly the problem. Honor.
G-B P: You mean "the lack of it".
No, Honor itself.
L-I P: You wouldn't feel anything if your girlfriend cheated on you.
Feel awful. Pained. Then end the relationship.
L-I P: You couldn't face the world. You'd be seen as a fool. You are dishonored.
G-B P: The Logged in Public has a point. Honor is something Society thrusts upon you. Take it and you'll be respected—or less disrespected.
The Sardine does not share many things with the rest of society, of which the notion of "Honor" is at the top.
G-D P: You're not going to respect what many of us—the majority—demand of people in general.
Even if it means fighting to the death to preserve it.
G-D P: Exactly.
It shows how my permanent vacation from the world started. The Sardine's dedicated to unburden life of its more banal notions and categories. I care nothing for what offends anyone, whether from me or rap music or French films.
"You're no fun," says Frank.
L-I P: The Sardine's grossly insensitive.
G-B P: So you don't care about us. We mean nothing to you.
G-D P: How about God? You're not worried about offending Him?
The Sardine's concept of a Supreme Being is that it is impervious to the world of slights, evasions, lies, and all the other goodies stuffed in humanity's luggage.
L-I P: Did he just compare himself to God?
Only the God that doesn't fit your conception.
"Does this mean," asks McNulty, "the God-Believing Public is actually a Sardine-Believing Public in disguise?"
Sardine-Believing Public: !?!?!?!?!?
The Sardine nearly finds the idea of such a Public offensive.
L-I P: You mean we were right.
No. It means that the Sardine felt a vague sense of indecency—nothing like anger or resentment, as those who get offended feel—at the thought of a Public that "believed" in the almighty small fish.
G-B P: Ah, we're back. Who was just speaking with our lips?
L-I P: The Sardine-Believing Public.
G-B P: My God, what a horrible thought, McNulty.
I wonder how such a Public would be constituted?
Bob Castle is the unveiled author of A Sardine on Vacation.