I wanted to write an article called “The 5 People You Meet in Hell” even before I understood what it meant. Surely, it couldn’t be a list like: 1) Hitler; 2) rapists; 3) serial killers; 4) Stalin; and 5) Cracked’s Adam Tod Brown. Much like Adam’s columns, that wouldn’t be interesting to anyone. So I kept thinking about it, and after a while I realized that if these are the people you meet in Hell, then that means you must have done something to earn a place in Satan’s minivan. (Or Lucifer’s bread basket, whichever you prefer.)
So, who do sinners meet in Hell? Well, as Cracked readers, I’m pretty sure three things are clear to you: 1) Batman is awesome; 2) Teddy Roosevelt was badass; and 3) French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre wrote “Hell is other people.” That sounds about right to me. Hell is about being confronted by all the people you’ve screwed over in life. It’s an uncomfortable confrontation with your sins for eternity.
So, technically, these people I’m about to list aren’t actually in Hell for their sins. Think of them more as guilt-inducing visions based on real people and designed to torment you forever. Lastly, I’m aware that this kind of Hell is only a punishment for people capable of feeling guilt. So for the sociopaths and all the other worst offenders I’m not listing here, Hell is actually a 350-pound gorilla sodomizing them 24/7 while singing Nicki Minaj songs.
But for the rest of us, here are some of the people we might expect to meet …
I doubt we go to Hell for each and every lie we tell, because that would create overcrowding even in a fictitious universe. Still, all lies are not created equal, and deceiving women for sex is one of the more repugnant ones out there. Specifically, dropping the “L” word. I don’t mean “lesbian,” although I guess women lying about being gay in order to sleep with other lesbians is bad thing, too.
I’m talking about pretending to love someone purely for the spoils of sex. The type of guy who does that is the same dude who’s really good at going away. He takes off, hoping that your hurt and embarrassment will keep you from ever speaking to him again. He knows that the kind of woman who requires love for sex is precisely the type of person who will be devastated to know she’s been fooled. Emotionally violated.
In Hell, however, he can’t get away. He’s surrounded by each and every victim of his crime forever. And unlike real life, where about half of these ladies would succumb to his puppy dog eyes, saying, “Oh, I can’t stay mad at you,” and falling for his lies again, these women simply aren’t having it. Oh, and in Hell, their bones are made of adamantium, just like Wolverine’s.
Parenting is the most important job there is, and while being a dad has shown me that much of a child’s personality seems genetically predetermined, certainly being an awful parent leaves its mark. And one of the biggest mark-leavers would have to be abandoning your child. Abandonment creates a hole that’s hard to fill, even by the drunken, dirty old men of Internet comedy.
I think a good visitor for an absentee parent would be two versions of their adult child: one the way the child actually turned out, and the other the way he or she could have been. Also, we can totally lie. Whatever makes the best torment. I mean, it’s Hell. You can do that. In fact, we’ll probably have to, because if these parents were classy enough to skip town, then there’s no reason to believe the kid would have been better off with them around.
So let’s take that absentee dad who ran off with his secretary to the other side of the country and forgot his kids existed. He’ll get to meet his daughter the astrophysicist, who developed a new way for quantifying energy, and his daughter the discount stripper, who developed a new way of giving handjobs for under five dollars.
I’m not trying to say you go to Hell for not holding the elevator door, but if you’re one of those guys who pushes “door close” all the time and you happen to being going to Hell already, well then I’d like to believe part of your torment will be facing every single person you’ve ever screwed over.
And it would be a pretty effective punishment, too, because the whole idea of closing an elevator door on someone is that you don’t have to see them ever again. The door goes whoosh and your shiny metal box takes you away like some magic TARDIS containing a distinctly more douchebaggy Doctor. If elevator doors were made of glass, almost no one would be so bold as to hit “door close.”
In Hell, though, these folks are placed in a crowd, and suddenly a “ding” is heard. The sinners look to see a golden elevator with a heavenly blue arrow pointing up toward salvation. They push through the crowd, finding the elevator first and, of course, hitting the “door close” button. They smile their shitty little smiles as they see the golden doors close on a desperate face. And at the moment the doors close and that face disappears from view, they feel a tap on their shoulder. They turn in surprise, only to see … THE PERSON THEY JUST SHUT THE DOOR ON. AAAAIGH!!!!!!
By the way, was that the plot of that M. Night Shyamalan movie Devil? I didn’t see it. Oh, wait. Look who I’m asking. No one did.
Most of my online existence and humor career have involved some form of hatred and disdain. For Cracked alone, I’ve hated on Jessica Simpson, the Black Eyed Peas, James Cameron and Cracked’s own Adam Tod Brown. But I’ve always felt that each of my attacks was justified and honest (with the exception of Adam, who, duh, I’m just teasing, you silly people). In print and in real life, I’ve tried never to engage in wholly invented smack-talking. And while everyone falls from grace every now and then, there are some people who will say just about anything at any time.
Maybe they slander co-workers for their own gain. Maybe they slander exes to make themselves look better. It doesn’t matter. Some people just see the truth as an unnecessary boundary to the sprawling expanse of bullshit they want to create.
So now I’m up to the point of the entry where I say that in Hell they meet everyone they’ve ever slandered, right? But I don’t think that’s enough. I know liars are not necessarily child molesters and axe murderers, but, somehow, I just don’t think they’d be very moved by such a confrontation. I’m pretty sure if I met up with an old boss of mine and confronted him about laying off hundreds of people while simultaneously publishing a press release claiming that no layoffs had occurred, he wouldn’t be the least bit embarrassed. “It was good for the company” or “I’m sure you would have done the same” or “I clear eight figures a year, why am I even talking to you?” would all come out of his mouth before “I’m sorry” or even “Oops.”
So maybe in Hell a guy like that does meet everyone he’s slandered, but mostly only so they can bear witness to his suffering. What suffering? Probably watching his material possessions burn or being told by anyone who ever made the mistake of letting him crawl inside that he was a failed and pathetic lover. Even better, watching him find out about every miscalculation he ever made that prevented him from making even more money. Because it really all comes down to that for those people. Even in the midst of searing rectal pain and violation, they’ll be consumed by how they had the chance to invest in Apple at 15 cents a share and just blew it.
We all go through tough times. Some of us bring it upon ourselves, while others are seemingly fated to suffer. But if you’re fortunate to make it through, it seems one of two things can happen to you: you become a better, stronger and, most of all, more empathetic person, or you turn into a bitter, judgmental tyrant.
Take some of those purporting to be people of faith who throw hatred at scared young women finding their way into abortion clinics. How many of those devout have had abortions themselves earlier in life? This is not the time or place to debate the validity of the pro-choice or right to life movements — only to address those people who feel that overcoming their own adversities has given them a free pass to rain abuse and judgment down upon anyone who reminds them of who they once were. For some, there is an unspoken belief that each scream of “Sinner!” pushes their own dark times and uncertainty farther away.
Or let’s go another way. Many years ago, for a very short time, I worked for an incredibly (politically and religiously) conservative, straight-laced organization. I found it overwhelmingly oppressive, and hated every moment there and the games I was expected to play. But of all these uber-white, ultra conservative men, do you know who had the least sympathy for my grumblings? Who was the hardest on me? One of my gay, liberal bosses. Even though she never said a word, I knew what she was thinking: “Oh, boo-hoo, Democrat Jew boy. You think you got it bad? I’m a woman in an old boy’s network. And not just a woman, but a huge lesbian! That’s right, I go out and have sex with women, and I deal with these guys and their polished hair, three-piece suits and homophobia. So if you have to dress right, pretend to support beliefs you hate and suck ass all day (in a non-gay way), then do it.”
Or how about those people who overcome their physical addictions and spend their sobriety not counseling the afflicted or feeling their pain, but turning their noses up? “I’ve been there, but now I’m here. Screw those guys for not getting through what I could.”
I find a special place in Hell for all these people because, quite simply, they should know better. They’ve actively rejected the life lessons taught to them and traded empathy in for self-satisfied arrogance. Their punishment is not to meet those they’ve wronged, but to spend eternity with themselves. And not just because they’ll be confronted with their own hypocrisy, but because this is Hell, and judgmental tyrants are just miserable company.