I Like Surly People


I like surly people.

To be fair, I’m kind of an asshole myself, so perhaps it’s not surprising I’m drawn to my peoples.

However, I’m self-aware enough by now to recognize my own patterns of likes and dislikes, people I’m drawn to, characters I relate to, and my reactions to similar circumstances. The fact is I always have been, and likely always will be, drawn to and respond fondly to the surly, churlish, assholes, and bitches. Whatever the idiom, I tend to enjoy those folks the most.

I lovably refer to my little sister Hope and her Pit Bull-mix dog Lily as my pint-sized rage machines. No one goes from zero to salty as fast as those two, and there’s no one whose company I enjoy more. Lily likes to sit in my lap, nose buried in my neck, growling, huffing, and puffing. Admittedly, most would be nervous about a snarly Pit Bull, but she and I both know she’s harmless. I coo at her and call her adorable while she “grrs,” and I generally get a lick for my adoration before she goes back to bitching about her day. Hope (fortunately sans the licking) is much the same. I see her back straighten, mouth twist, head cant, eyes sharpen, and know that she’s about to rip someone to shreds. Instead of ducking and covering, or admonishing her for her behavior, it makes me giggle – every single time. At 5-foot  even and a giant blonde sock bun atop her head, she looks about as ferocious as a hobbit, but when she rips out those claws she’ll make people bleed just with one of her signature Come to Jesus meetings. She can out-snark me, and because she never hesitates to speak her mind and mostly abhors sentimentality, she readily gets labeled a bitch. But the pricklier or bitchier she is, the more delightful I find her, even when it’s directed at  me. Why? Because I get carte blanche to be surly back, and frankly it’s liberating. And when I’ve switched from being my normal bitchy self into just being nasty, Hope doesn’t hesitate to call me out on it, (and vice versa) generally with a “Jesus, take your damn Midol,” comment that would send most folks through the roof.

I am just not someone who is attracted to sentimental people. Even my favorite fictional characters are the ones who say and do what most in polite society would refrain from: Sherlock, House, Mr. Darcy, Katniss, Buffy, Daenerys Targaryen, all immediately come to mind as classic fictional “assholes” or “bitches.” They’re gruff and taciturn, no-sense and prickly, difficult to get to know, repel most others, and are filled with overly complicated motivations towards basic common decency, but what I adore about them is how they wade through and dismiss the daily pablum. They get things done, and while they can be hell on people’s feelings, it’s largely because they’re not good at expressing their own or dealing with sentiment. And I can certainly relate to that.

My oldest friend and I found each other our freshman year of high school because we were both sporting bitchy resting face and a general aura of “we have no f*cks to give.” It has lasted us for 14 years because we both know that we universally accept from the other person no holds barred blunt honesty. Someone has to be the one to tell you that you do in fact look like crap, that you’re definitely making a bad life decision, and that the guy you’re interested in is a colossal prick in all the wrong ways. Admittedly, if someone ever read the texts between myself and my best friend, they’d assume one: we’re plum crazy and two: we hate each other. All we do is argue, call each other names, and we get along best when we absolutely disagree, granted it’s generally about fictional characters, but we snipe like arch enemies. Yet both of us know without a doubt that we love each other dearly and will always have each others’ backs. Normal people might find us combative, judgmental, and tetchy, but being bitchy draws us together.

To be clear, it’s not that I have interest in mean spirited people who seek to hurt others or those that exhibit the worst aspects of humanity, but I do prefer the folks who don’t limit themselves to societal expectations or norms (within reason). Those who will say and do what is necessary, who will stand up for themselves or others even if it makes people uncomfortable or exceeds the boundaries of polite manners. I like brutal honesty and unapologetic devotion to being exclusively yourself. Those are my kinds of assholes, bitches, surly little shits, or whatever allegedly negative connotation you want to apply. The folks who are a little harder to love, and are  little bit more difficult to connect with, are often the most loyal and unwavering friends you’ll ever have. We may be prickly and growl at you, we may be uncomfortably honest, and fully believe that “the ends justify the means,” but not only do we “Get shit done,” but when you finally get through to us, we love ferociously.

So next time you come across someone a bit prickly, has a surly look on their face to rival a grumpy old man, or think “Oh my God what an asshole” try snarking back. If half their mouth curves in a smirk, even a tiny one, you’ve just found an opening to what could be the beginnings of a beautiful, bitchy friendship.

View Comment (1)
  • I love this! I come from three generations of cranky bad-asses and I know for fact that we don’t the credit they we deserve. Snark on my friend and know that we cherish your support.

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