The band Nirvana once had a song entitled “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” This song was not released on any of their major albums. However, this song is an excellent example of the concept known as being “on the nose.” In fact, this song title was a little too on the nose, as Kurt Cobain hated himself so much that he killed himself a year after writing the song.
…In connection with this, I am now trying to think of examples in my life where I was too on the nose, as poor Kurt Cobain was too on the nose. Once, I insulted a fat girl by calling her “fat.” In a similar vein, I once insulted a white trash guy by calling him “white trash.” I could have used many other insults, but it is unforgivable in life to say exactly what a person is. If I had called the girl “a bitch,” I could have maybe been forgiven. Likewise if I had just called the guy “a jerk.” As it was though, I was not forgiven. The guy punched me in the face. The girl never let me enter her house again.
(And by the way, if you need another example of being too on the nose, here is one: some of you may have read the title of this essay and thought that it was on the topic of noses. It is obviously not an essay about that. But if this essay “On the Nose” had been on the nose, then this essay on the nose would have been too on the nose, if you follow me. Anyway.)
…In life, you should probably strive to avoid being too on the nose. Here is an example of that, and of what you should avoid doing. Say that you are in love with a girl, but you are worried that she might break up with you. Avoid, then, saying this to her: “Honey, I love you absolutely and if you ever abandoned me I would spend the next three months sleeping on the couch in a suicidal pot-induced trance. I would abandon this trance only occasionally to get Chinese food leftovers from the fridge or to order more Chinese food, or to masturbate. But I would be masturbating to your image, and I would fail to masturbate successfully, and I would cry. I would check your Facebook 10,000 times and interpret every comment and picture as a sign that you are dating a newer hotter guy. A photo of a cat? Is that a new cat? Did he give that to her? I would think to myself. Going out to dinner? Is she going out to dinner with him? Such would be my thoughts. I would attempt to hack into your Gmail. Many, many times I would attempt to hack into your Gmail. I would attempt to guess your password based on random stray remarks that you have made about things that you are affectionate about, making such password guesses as ‘Dostoyevskylover1’ and ‘poodlegirl.’ These guesses would all be unsuccessful and I would know that they would be unsuccessful, but they would help fill up the empty moments of my abandoned life. In short, as I said before, you leaving me would drive me to the brink of suicidal despair and beyond. So don’t ever leave me, darlin’, for that is how I feel about you.”
Such comments are, of course, entirely accurate. Unfortunately, they are far too on the nose and will creep the girl the fuck out. So instead of saying something like that, say something like this: “Hey I really like those new shoes that you’re wearing.” See? Much better and not so on the nose.
The difference between these two comments may seem like a subtle one to you. But it is exactly on such subtle distinctions that our entire civilization is founded. …Indeed, many people would argue that this is all that “civilization” really is: avoiding saying what it is that you are actually thinking about something. However, you should probably avoid pointing out such a thing in conversation — because doing that would be way too on the nose.