I can’t even remember where online I found the picture of the Rhino on the treadmill. I thought it was cute at first. Then it made me a little sad. Then I proceeded, as I often do, straight to “frustrated” and “kinda pissed.” Not about the art itself, of course, but about the idea.
Here’s the evolution of my thought process:
Aww, cute. Poor little baby Rhino’s trying to… wait…
Poor little baby Rhino imagines that if s/he exercises enough s/he’ll be able to look like the hot, svelte unicorn on the poster. But, you know what, Rhino? It’s just not gonna happen, babe. And it’s not your fault. Those aren’t the genes you were dealt. I mean, maybe you could drop a few pounds or get some more muscle tone or whatever, but listen honey, you’re just not meant to be a unicorn. Can’t be helped. And you need to get over that misguided dream of looking like all those hot unicorns you see on billboards and magazine covers. They’re probably all airbrushed anyway. And you should see them without make-up!
Don’t fall into that trap, Rhinobaby. Resist. You can’t ever look like that. And that’s okay. Just be your big, bad rhino self and be happy in your own thick, collagen-rich, latticed skin. And if you still wanna dream about unicorns and touch yourself in secret places when no one’s looking, that’s cool, too. Just don’t get all depressed and bulimic and self-loathing about how you look, okay? You’re a friggin’ rhino, dude! You live to be sixty years old. Your kind have survived since the Eocene epoch despite all those bastards hunting you for your horns and stuff. You rock!
I mean, listen: you’re a Rhino. You have to set some realistic goals here.
What kind of (cartoon) world are we living in that makes otherwise intelligent mammals so willing to delude themselves? You gotta live in the real world. I mean, sure, it’s nice to dream big and all, but get serious. I’m never going to look like Brad Pitt and you’re never going to look like a damn unicorn. Face the facts. I mean, first of all, not to get all unicorn-atheist here and burst your bubble, but look: unicorns don’t exist in the real world. We read about them in books and hear about them in myths, but come on. Have you seen one? In real life? Not just heard about them, I mean, but actually met one. What’s the point of sacrificing your real life so you can please an imaginary being?
And really, confidence and optimism are swell. They motivate us to become better than we are. But at some point you’re just deluding yourself. You’re like some of my students—the ones that drive me insane with their completely unrealistic goals. Oh, sure, they say, I know I’m fifty pounds overweight, way too short, have bad skin, buckteeth, severe speech impediments, and a complete lack of talent, but I really think I can be a soap star, Broadway’s Sweetheart, or America’s Next Top Model. Or like the dumb tub of lard who played defensive tackle on his high school football team and somehow imagines his years as a second string benchwarmer on a division three college team is going to somehow lead to a career in the NFL. I mean, honestly. How about you get your head out of your ass, pick up a book, and maybe learn to type so you’ll have a marketable skill rather than wasting four-to-six years and $120,000 at a mediocre liberal arts college as you drink heavily, gain more weight, and piss your life away. I mean, Jesus. You’ve gotta get yourself together and stop living in dreamland. You’re on the fast track to becoming a cliché and a punchline.
And I mean that in the nicest way possible. I’m just trying to help.