Let's Talk About Our Willies
Before it is too late.
I’d love to tell you that this essay is only a joke—but no, it’s 100% true. You’ll either get it, or you’ll think, Oh, he’s an insane person. To the first, I say, “See, you’re not alone.” To the latter: “Lucky you.”
I have a foolproof method for judging everyone I meet.
It's simple. I ask myself one question: would I want to be with this person in the apocalypse? Zombies, aliens, asteroids, nuclear war, famine, killer bunnies, whatever. And I ponder: Might this person eat me six weeks in? Might they get culty? Rapey? Murdery?—Might they–once they no longer have to put a face on for society–try to wear my face?
If I think yes, I walk away.
How could I possibly know this just by meeting someone? Easy. The willies. I am a firm believer in the willies.
By 'willies,' I mean a sort of intuition. I call it 'the willies' because:
a. I'm a child in disguise.
b. That's what they are.
Intuition is what a CEO uses when deciding how many plebs to fire. The willies is what you feel when you meet that CEO at a party and think:
Oh, fuck, you're one of those bad people.
All my life, people have tried to discredit the willies, science them away, explain them away. All of these people gave me the willies. Because they're the willy police (lol), they're the ones in the apocalypse who get all religiousy and try to sacrifice your baby to appease the gods.
The older I've gotten, the more I listen to my willies. I make most of my social decisions based on them—and, you know what? My life is chock-full of kind, loving, fun people.
I can tell you—without having to think—where all of my loved ones would be in an apocalypse: dead. Across the board. Dead. We're all snowflakes. And snowflakes melt. (Except my older brother—cause he has a baby, and babies will need to be protected from the willy police.)
I've become this way because nearly every human-centric mistake I've made in my life has come after ignoring my willies.
It bugs my friends that often—for no reason—I won't like someone. Like a toddler who doesn't know enough words yet, I'll cross my arms, huff-and-puff, and say, "well, they just rub me the wrong way!"—which is the adult way to say "willies."
(Okay, look, I know I'm talking about "willies" and "rubbing the wrong way." Grow up.)
And really, it's because the sense I get is that this person—when social walls crumble, would say, "You know what we should bring back? Hangings."
That's not an easy thing to explain to people. It goes like this:
"What do you mean you think they'd hang people?"
"Not that they would hang people—but they'd totally be the kind of person who's down with the idea."
"And you think this because they talked too much during the movie?"
"Well—no, that, and other stuff. Look, it's not an exact science."
"It's not any kind of science."
Alright—fine, let's see if I can break this down—to put as exact a definition as I can find.
The willies "technically" means nervous uneasiness. Though, I don't think this is quite right because both "unease" and "nervousness" are often applied to prolonged situations. It’s more like—okay, have you ever been out with someone who stops, clutches their throat, and says, "Oh God, I think I might throw up—."
You, ask, "Everything, okay?"
They cringe, swallow, straighten up, and say, "Yeah—weird. I felt like I was going to vomit. Good now."
That's how these people make me feel—like my brain wants to throw up.
The thing is, every time I've felt that initial pang, and ignored it, there comes a point in the night, or perhaps the second or third, where that person does something that sets off alarms bells—says something, acts a certain way, pushes a button. I particularly listen to the willies around men because it tends to indicate that they have an aggressive streak.
For an obvious example, let's say I am introduced to a guy named Duncan. I've never met a Duncan I liked.
First thing Duncan does as we walk out the door is put his arm around me and start talking real close to my face—even though it is clearly uncomfortable for us to be walking side by side—even though I'm responding in exclusively curt nods—he persists until I am forced to unpeel him from my personal space.
Boom. Done. Willied out of my life.
Because when the apocalypse inevitably rolls around, Duncan is the guy who bashes your head in for the last can of beans—he'll be saying, “Sorry, sorry, what have I become!” as he does it—but that won't make you any less dead.
Maybe—just maybe—Duncan is misunderstood. Maybe I misjudged him—but the world is full, FULL of people, wonderful people. Why settle? Why ignore the willies? In the event of an apocalypse, why risk becoming the last meal of that guy who you knew was bad the second he decided to play the fifth song on guitar at a party where no one asked him to play guitar.
Practice Exercises for Your Willies
I thought I'd share two easy-to-spot situations where willies are strongest for those who want to hone their willies (seriously, grow up) or better understand what I'm talking about:
Situation 1: Strong Power Dynamics
This is the easiest way to spot someone who is awful. Give people power, and the bad ones will send your willy radar tingling real quick (okay—I see it now).
Situation 2: Drinking with Strangers
Drunk people show their true colors fast. If you think someone might've given you the willies, get drunk with them and see how they behave. You'll know if you were right or wrong by the end of the night. Bring a taser.
And, if you'd like to take it from a different angle, here are some behaviors that most willy-inducing people tend to do (I am, of course, leaving out the obvious signs of racism, sexism, violence, etc. You don't need your willies to spot them).
People who stand on the walking side of an escalator.
People who say, "oh, one more thing," when you're walking out the door and that one more thing is a meme.
People who stand directly in front of opening doors on subway platforms.
People who not only don't knock but say, "Knock-knock" once they're already in the room.
People who say, "I think you forgot something…" without immediately following up with the thing you forgot.
People who unironically hang motivational posters.
People who take elevators up or down one floor.
People who send back an eight-dollar steak because they "asked for medium-rare, and this is medium."
People who order two things on a menu because they can't decide between them.
People who nodded in agreement to number 9. That was a test—obviously, you should order both because you can just box up one of them and eat it for breakfast tomorrow—or, like, if you're stoned later. Don't judge—geez.