term of the day: “shit magnet”

SHIT MAGNET (noun) ˈshit ˈmag-nət. One who attracts shit, any kind of shit, be it death, woe, romantic break-ups, legal tangles, financial or medical catastrophe, accidentally lighting your hair on fire or other grave misfortune, especially any that results in the production and propulsion of large amounts of snot. Synonyms: punching bag; hopeless wreck; gnasher of teeth. Origin: Randy.

Yes, this is Randy’s term. He gets the credit. He reminded me of it in his response to my post about getting swiped and subsequently swooped-upon by the TSA, and I’ve been meaning to give it a full airing. In case you’re wondering who Randy is, and you should be, he’s a kind, funny man, and he’s my brother, and he’s been that way for a couple of decades now. My brother, that is. Not kind and funny; he’s been that way since birth, at least I assume so, because I didn’t actually cross paths with him until I was, like, 14, and he was, like, 13. His dad was headmaster of Wykeham Rise, that itsy-bitsy arts school where my mom taught music.

Randy and I met one afternoon when he was out in the  Wykeham parking lot, kicking the soccer ball around, and he said Hey, and I said Hey, and he said Do you play soccer, and I said Guess so, and he kicked the ball to me and I kicked it back and the freaking thing slammed straight into the Latin teacher’s car so hard that it made a dent in the door. Thank heavens it popped straight back, although the Latin teacher, a diminutive Hungarian eccentric we called Doc, was the worst and most oblivious driver of all time and probably wouldn’t have noticed a dent in his car the size of, you know, the car.

So began my friendship with Randy, who went on to utter phrases of startling pithiness and discernment well beyond Do you play soccer. I will probably quote him again sometime. Several years back he coined the phrase above, hypothesizing that some people exert a fecal attraction more powerfully than others.

My own sense is that everyone’s a shit magnet of one sort or another; it’s just that not everyone talks about it. Seriously: do you know anyone who hasn’t been dealt some monumentally awful hand at some point? Maybe several points? Even that jerk who cut me off in traffic the other day, prompting spasms in my middle finger, is likely carrying around his own sack of pain. And if he isn’t, he will someday. The shit flies in all directions, just not at the same time. 

We take our turns as shit magnets, I believe. I’ve had mine. Randy’s had his. Someone else is next. Tell me, then, that this isn’t the most fitting synonym of all: human being.

10 thoughts on “term of the day: “shit magnet”

  1. Randy! Doc! Wow…I’ve been meaning to ask – is Nils the red-headed kid (maybe I just remember him red-headed, he might not have been) who played soccer barefoot?

  2. Amy, discovering your blog (a friend reposted your piece about the Hackett concert) has been a wonderful surprise Christmas gift! Thank you…..I am hooked!

  3. I appreciate where you landed with your conclusion, Ames, but in the interest of getting the definition down right for Webster’s: No. Not every human is a shit magnet.

    If you subscribe to the notion that we are here on earth to learn–specifically about love & compassion & empathy–then shit magnets are “blessed” with an uncommon abundance of opportunities to do so.

    It’s okay to acknowledge that as shit magnets we get hit with more than our fair share. In fact, I worry about the shit magnet who doesn’t explode with fury, wail with sorrow, pitch a Why-Me-AGAIN?! fit. After all, altruistically speaking, when we do, we give others ample chance to exercise their own empathy muscles. 😉

    With you, dear Sister Shit Magnet. ❤

    • Hmmm. Food for thought. I do feel blessed, though not by all the losses — but by the aftermath, which involves fresh new causes for gratitude, ways of loving and people to love. I think about this often, actually. I do believe it’s the only way forward after tragedy. But do some people keep getting hit with stuff more than others (and keep getting hit with the blessings that follow, too)? That part I’m not so sure of. And even if it is true, I hesitate to dwell on it, because doing so might take me down a hole of self-pity and render me less useful to those who might need my help. Chewing on life’s mysteries again. . .

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