Why Be Mean?

In the air, you can smell that someone is making coffee. Birds outside of your window are chirping and swooping around. In your bed, you yawn, and then you stretch. Doing the yawn and stretch feels really invigorating, like, you were still kind of sleepy before, but with the boost of oxygen and limbering up of your body, you are awake now, you are present in the world. You get up, change into a fresh set of clothes, and then head downstairs. For the last three or four months, you and a few of your high school friends have been renting a house together. It's been pretty great: staying up late whenever you want, playing all of your favorite music loudly, and always having someone around who gets your sense of humor when you think of something funny.
As you come down the stairs, you see that one of your friends (now a roommate too) is at work in the kitchen. He seems to be the one who made some coffee, based on the steaming cup that's standing there in the coffee maker. Right now, he's working on getting some dishes done. The one he's scrubbing at the moment is a pan you were using to make dinner for yourself last night.
When he notices you, he sets that pan down to soak in some soapy water for a little while longer.
As you walk past him to grab a box of cereal, you say to him, "Hey, morning."
He says back, "Hey."
As you're deciding between the partial boxes of cereals that you have--Cap'n Crunch or Raisin Bran are seeming like the winner this morning--you notice that your friend seems to be wanting to say something to you.
You grab the first box of cereal that comes to your hand, just to be holding something, and you turn to him with the cereal box in hand, and ask, "What's up?"
He kind of scratches the back of his head, and then he admits to you, "I'm uh, bi. Not related to anything. Chicks and dudes have a shot with me."
It's a surprise, coming from this friend. He always just seemed totally straight. You had no idea. But, why be mean? You say to him, "Lucky dudes."
He smiles, and kinda mumbles 'thanks,' and goes back to the dishes.
You pour your cereal into the bowl, and to yourself, you make plans to start following some bi meme threads to have stuff to send to him to show your support.
A few years later, you're sitting at a restaurant booth with some others. They're people from your job. They're your favorite people to chat with during the day, as far as coworker conversation goes, light kinds of discussions to pass the time. You've gotten to know a lot about the little petty dramas with their roommates, and what kinds of games they're interested in. But, here on this little dinner outing, this is your first time ever really hanging out with them off the clock.
At some point, your main coworker friend, the person you like to spend time with the most, kind of leans in with you, and mentions, while the others are distracted, "Uh, these guys know, but, I don't think it's come up with you: I'm a fox. Like, I identify as a therian, I really am a fox. It's a whole spiritual thing."
They seem like they have a lot more to say, but want to know if they haven't lost you yet. You understand the tone of hesitation in their voice, their anxiety to tell you this. You are aware of some memes and discourse about therians, that are probably really meanspirited now that you think about it, actually face to face with someone you like who is one, and who says that it's deeply related to their heartfelt view of the world.
Why be mean?
Who are you really helping by standing up for being mean, instead of standing up for being compassionate?
You nod, say something about how you'd love to know more, and then you take a sip from your straw.
A few years later, you and this fox therian coworker (their name is Amber) are actually living together. You and your old roommates, including the bi friend, have all gotten out of the old rental lease on the old place. Now you and Amber are living together in a dog friendly apartment, with their dog, a Great Dane named Joseph. Joseph hangs out in the living room when you and Amber are watching Netflix shows. Pretty often, you walk into the living room and see Amber there with him on the floor, petting him or checking his nails or playing with a stuffed toy that they recently got him.
One day, you're giving Amber a ride to the bus station--their car is fucked, a mechanic is looking at it--and they say to you, from the passenger seat, "Hey, um, so, as far as dating. Me and Joseph are together."
For a moment, you don't understand. You've been following some therian topics, just to keep up with what your friend is about, and you've seen a lot of posts saying that zoophiles are rapists, animals can't consent, there is no such thing as love between a human-bodied person and a natural-born animal.
Why be mean?
From everything you've ever seen, the two of them are great together. There is no doubt to you in the world about whether they love that dog, or whether that dog loves them.
You tell them, "You seem like you always uplift each other. I'm happy for both of you."
You can kind of tell when Amber thinks they are wagging their fox tail, and, right now, they are.
It's easy to think of ways to insult someone who is being vulnerable. It's easy to think of ways to be mean. Much of the time, when we see someone opening up, we are all the better for endeavoring to be thoughtful and kind.
Article written by an anonymous author (June 2024)