If I was supreme dictator of the whole entire universe, I guess I’d start with cargo shorts. I find them distasteful. I know it’s pretty low on the scale of societal malignancy, but it seems like a waste of fabric, and honestly, when you’re supreme dictator, you ought to start somewhere benign before you start chipping away at the big stuff. It’s the foot-in-the-door method of totalitarianism.

The thing about cargo shorts is that they’re ugly and only seem practical. People don’t walk around with things in the pockets of their cargo shorts because physics dictates that the contents of the pockets would flop around on one’s leg and pull the shorts down, exposing one’s Fruit of the Loom brand underwear. Cargo shorts haven’t been fashionable in a decade but people buy them thoughtlessly in the same way they buy the brand of margarine spread their mom always bought even though it tastes like wallpaper paste. No one would be sorry to see cargo shorts and margarine spreads thrown into an active volcano.

So I’d definitely start small. I’d find other things to throw into the active volcano, things that people wouldn’t really miss after a few days. Car fresheners that hang from the rearview mirror? Volcanoed. Anything that bears the likeness of Bob Marley? Vaporized. Home decor that has inspirational wording on it? Incinerated. You’re welcome.

You can get rid of those kinds of things and people won’t really fuss too much, and no one would call you an evil dictator if you paired your megalomania with one of those minimalist philosophies that people like Gwyneth Paltrow champion on lifestyle blogs as they hawk rose gold bonsai trees. “Does it bring you joy?” I would ask, dangling a Blender Bottle over the gaping mouth of a gurgling volcano.

The next step is more difficult; the more obvious I am about my loathings, the more people will call my character into question. Window decals that memorialize the dead – my approval ratings would plummet if I threw the In Loving Memory of Chad factory into the bowels of the Earth. “You think a sticker remembering my dead child is distasteful?” they would ask. I wouldn’t really have a good answer; I guess I would subsidize garden plaques.