Why We Aren't Criminals

The reason why we choose being nice people over having a big-ass laser

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Sanjay Singhal as a super villain — unretouched photo! — by author

I’m at the hairdressers this morning, and I notice that I look a bit like a super-villain at this angle. I think it suits me.

So my thoughts have drifted to my choices in life. Why am I a law abiding citizen? Why do I believe that a life well-lived is about forming great relationships and being a kind person?

Maybe from today I can live a life free of the shackles of concern for others. I can look out only for myself and look to amass personal power, wealth, and a trove of remote-controlled weapons of amusement and destruction. One laser please. Size XXL.

Nobody will trust me. But they will fear me. Nobody will like me. But they will obey me. Mu-hahahahaha! My maniacal laugh needs work, I know. My hair though? Nailed it.

This is turning into an interesting thought exercise. As I contemplate my life of lawlessness, pyramid schemes, and dwarf-tossing, I have a superficial sense of amusement and an overwhelming sense of loss.

Despite my awesome potential look as a villain, I don’t want to lose the friendships, respect and love that I’ve built up over decades of a life (usually? sometimes?) well lived. It takes as much diligence and planning to live a good life as it takes to plan a bank heist. Nobody accidentally falls into a life of contentment, and nobody stays there without a lot of work.

I haven’t always prioritized family over work, and friendships over personal activities. But as I’ve done so more over the years, my life has progressively gotten better. It’s unclear whether my improving financial status has enabled me to spend more time on relationships or if my improved relationships have enabled me to appreciate life more, regardless of my finances. I suppose it’s a bit of both, and either way, relationships are more important now than before.

I used to prioritize the number of friends I had, instead of the quality of those relationships. Can I get 20 people to come to a party? 50? 100? More is better right? Surprisingly, I learned during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 that fewer is better. I don’t miss wearing masks on airplanes, but I do miss how important my closest friends became during that time of restricted social life. And I do miss the time spent playing board games with my kids. Pandemic restrictions killed me financially, but it was great for family time. I call that a solid win.

Also the absence of traffic. God I miss the absence of traffic. Some sort of a villainous flying fortress could solve that.

I don’t think the people who end up as criminal overlords, the Bernie Madoffs, the Lex Luthors, any of the Kardashians, ended up there by intention. They were probably going for love and respect, and the lure of money or power in the moment resulted in one bad decision, and then another, and then another. Maybe if they’d had my perfect villain hair things would have gone better for them, but perhaps a life outside of societal norms just leads to personal ruin. I suppose if it ever worked out, we’d never know, because… it worked out.

Is Ryan Reynolds really a great father, husband, entrepreneur, actor, and investor? Do we need to add criminal mastermind? I’m not sure you get to 50 million instagram followers following the straight and narrow road. Believe me, I’ve tried, and I’m only up to 283.

Artist renditions of Ryan Reynolds as a criminal mastermind — he certainly has the hair for it (courtesy of midjourney)

I took the trouble of coming up with a guess as to what Reynolds’ criminal alter-ego might look like. If you see this man in a dark alley, let me know. It means it’s possible to pull off criminal overlord and have the whole world love you.

In the absence of such evidence, I’m resigned to continuing the life I’ve already built. Friends, loved ones, a little bit of a positive aura. Some people even read my writing, I love all of them, I mean you! Thank you for being part of my villain-less realm.

But what am I going to do with this awesome villain hair? Maybe I can get a job piloting a Death Star. At least then I still get to have a laser.

  1. Dr. Evil contemplates sea bass with lasers

  2. What you get when you type ‘Ryan Reynolds Evil’ into Youtube. Bad hair, among other weirdness.

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