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A quick list of things you do not have to do

You don't have to do anything you don't want to do.  All that shit you hate, all the working and the laundry and the oil changes and the lawn maintenance, the picking up of dog shit, the attending of weddings and godawful graduation parties, the dentist appointments, the trip to the fuckin' vet to get your beloved family pet put down.  You don't have to be a father, you don't have to be a husband.  You don't have to set your alarm, get up before the sun, you don't have to smile in the face of that asshole customer, the unreasonable bag of shit that insists that he told you that he wanted his dressing on the side, even though he didn't and he knows it and you know it, and, holy shit, this has ruined his whole fucking day, his week, his life.  He wanted low-fat ranch and you put on full flavor and now he hates you and everybody you love.  You forgot to hold the croutons and now he wishes you had cancer.  But you smile and hold your tongue, because the fucking cockgobbler forgot that it is your hands that are going to bring out his entree.

You don't have to shovel the walk or pick up your mother in law at the airport, you don't have to go to your kid's Christmas pageants, or pay your phone bill, or remember to send a card to your mother on Mother's Day.  You don't have to remember anything, not birthdays or anniversaries or holidays or the errands that you promised that you would complete.  You don't have to go to the bank, fill out paperwork, call the insurance company, get your cholesterol checked, file taxes, you don't have to stop and help that stranger changing their tire in the rain.  You don't have to plan ahead, save money for retirement , book that vacation early, you don't have to get that mole checked out, run in the mornings, slow down your drinking.

You don't have to tell anyone that you love them.

You do not have to make anyone feel special.  You never have to feel bad when you hurt someone.  You never have to examine your motives, display empathy, imagine things from a different perspective.

You don't have to sit down and write this stupid shit for strangers to hate or ignore, you don't have to put yourself forward. You do not have to believe in your own value.

You don't have to have faith.

You don't have to believe in anything other than your own desires.  You don't have to pay for anything.  You don't have to be kind, you don't even have to be polite, or behave as if others have value of their own, you do not have to respect personal space, you do not have to exhibit self-control.   You do not have to fall in line.  If you don't want to, you do not have to observe customs, or norms or mores.

You do not have to stay.  There are your keys, the door.  There is the road, there is the sky.  Drive away into the setting sun, drive into the fire, learn to forget, disappear forever, become a legend, become a cautionary tale.  There is the highway, unspooling before you, there is the horizon.  You do not have to write a note, you don't have to leave clues as to why.  You don't have to say how tired you are, of everything that you hate, of everything that you love, everything, everywhere, you don't have to hint, or say what you want, how things could be better.  This is your life, bleeding away drop by drop, this is your life, drying up in the merciless sun, in the relentless heat and weight of responsibility, this is your spirit, drowning.  It would be so easy.  There is the door, there is the road.

You do not have to worry, or smile at strangers, or hold the door for someone that has their hands occupied.  You do not have to be nice, you do not have to be kind, you do not have to help, or speak well or tell someone that you appreciate them.  You do not have to call your mother so she doesn't worry, you do not have to buy a person coffee, you do not have to give that dirty bum any of your spare change.  You do not have to donate blood, or give to earthquake relief, or volunteer at Hospice, or care about others. You especially do not have to care about them if they look different than you do, or if they worship differently than you do, or if they are not quite our kind of people.  If you recognize them as something other than a reflection of yourself, you can hate them.  If you don't want to, you don't even have to believe that hate exists, you don't have to recognize the sneaky bastard when he slips in.

You do not have to care.

You do not have to return those videotapes.  You do not have to be honest or generous.  You do not have to try to achieve anything.

You do not have to apologize.  You never have to apologize.  Never apologize.

You do not have to build.  You do not have to work hard, take pride.

You do not have to create.

If you don't want to, you do not have to do anything.  If you don't want to, you don't even have to try.

You do not have to try.

Still Writing, RP



Usually, I have a good idea what I am going to write before I ever sit down to write it.  Occasionally, like this time here, I have no damn clue and just start flailing away at the keys and hope for something good to come from it.  Sometimes it turns out, sometimes its crap.  I think this one worked, mostly. Hopefully.  Like most of my writing, I really have no idea what it means, if it means anything at all.  I am currently in hiatus from the world outside my small and peaceful bubble, so if you want to reach me, email me at dissent.within@ gmail .com, or comment here if you like.  I am on twitter @RDPullins too, if you like fart jokes and stupid puns.  Peace.


  1. I don't have to leave my apartment when the landlord is outside with the police to enforce the eviction notice I got when I didn't pay my rent for eight months because I didn't have to?

    This is great news! Thanks, Ralph!

  2. Is this a subtle way of saying I am off the hook for cooking and cleaning Ralph?? What's for dinner? That is great news!! Love u

  3. Im so glad you understood what I was going for. I can always count on you.

  4. Not sure I appreciate your sarcasm.

  5. I do not even understand what that word means.

  6. It means intelligence. As in, "smart people appreciate sarcasm, and are often sarcastic themselves."

    Either that or it has something to do with "The Twilight Saga." I'm not entirely sure.

  7. Without the sarcasm, here’s what I love about this piece.

    At first you set us up with a couple of meatballs to get us swinging away at your "you don’t have to" bullshit.

    “Of course I gotta’ go to work and do the laundry. If I don’t, I’ll be a gutter punk.”

    By the time those you-don’t-have-tos start turning into knuckle balls, we’re already married to the if-I-don’t reaction.

    “What happens if I don’t care? What happens if I don’t try?” The answers stop coming so easy, but we keep looking for them.

    Getting the reader to look for their own answers to questions which were never asked ––Great job, Ralph.

    The theme of choice and consequence is all over your writing. You know that?

  8. I love this. Thanks, man. I think people, and I am not excluding myself here, like to feel victimized by their life, as if what you have isn't the net result of all your choices, which, to me at least, it clearly is. Example: I do my very best to be a good father. It isn't always easy and it isn't always fun, but doing that is better than not doing it. I'd rather put in the time and effort and deal with the frustrations and disappointments and exhaustion because the results of doing that are better than the results of not doing it. The same goes for marriage or work or anything for that matter. It all boils down to choice: you could be, if you so choose to be, the world's biggest douche, just a real fucking asshole. And that is ok as long as you realize that the ultimate consequence of that type of behavior is that you end up alone and hated. If that's your idea of a good time, knock yourself out. It's not for me I know that, but judging from the number of absolute shitbags there are in the world, it seems that for some that works.


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