Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

huh

My full time best friend and part-time editor/muse ( Musitor? Edimuse?) made a writing suggestion to me today. It’s interesting having a woman as your best friend, because women remember select things we menfolk said that we weren’t necessarily paying attention to when we were saying them. “Yeah honey, Neo- Feminist Broadway musical “The Mighty Va-Jay” with an all deaf mute gay male cast…got a big write up in the Times? Well now, we’ll just have to get tickets for that.”

Fast forward to the AFC Playoff weekend…

“When did I say I wanted to see this? WHEN? I don’t care, the guys are coming over, I have spent 2 weeks pay on chips and beer, Armando is going to fire up his new grill right here in the living room…OK honey, stop crying, we’ll go….we’ll go…we’ll go, Oh I can wear my lucky Patriots hoody to the musical and were going out for Ethiopian buffet after with the ever-clucking hens from your office? That’s your compromise?. Well just kill me now God. I can die happy”

Women store up this information. Then they bring these things to our attention. They usually do this when they begin to lose an argument and need to switch to a higher caliber ammunition to get the job done. Let this stand as a warning for all men to ignore. They are always listening when we are running our yaps. They are storing up all that nonsense you’re happily spewing forth, and they WILL bring it up again, to be used against you at a most inconvenient time. You heard it here first boys.

“Know what I think you should write about?” The Gow asked me semi-rhetorically. I answered in the negative. “You should write about that time when you were making yourself upset about asking your dad to pick you up from the train station”. I vaguely remember this. Scratch that. I don’t remember it at all. However, the part of the sentence “making yourself upset” I can easily relate to, so maybe that’s why it seemed familiar. Sounds just like me.

I spend a lot of time making myself angry, anxious and upset. This is not so strange or uncommon I suppose. What is a little whackadoo where I am concerned is that I make myself angry, anxious or upset by imagining possibilities of things that have not happened. This is fascinating as I am quite easily one of the most anxious and angry people I know…and I know lots of angry and/or anxious people. Frankly, it is my opinion, that if you’re paying any attention whatsoever, you should be anxious and angry. Yet, despite being A&A, my silly little brain has to cultivate new and even fictitious things to keep me feeling “normal”. This is one of the curses of creative people. Our funny little brains are always on the go, knocking on doors, creating scenarios.

Now as I said, I don’t recall the exact reference that my musitor ;The Gow was speaking of. Apparently one time when I was going to visit the Pater, and I was making myself angry because I had to ask him to pick me up at a train or bus station, and I had expected my father to hem and haw over this, in turn I’d get angry and revisit every childhood trauma in the ensuing argument. I rehearsed in my head what I’d say, and every possible response. I got angrier and angrier at my goddamn selfish asshole of a father, who couldn’t be bothered to pry his ass from the couch and pick up his son who was coming to visit him. God forbid the bastard ever comes to see me. Oh NOOOOOO that would be too difficult. Visiting your son? How absurd, and another thing dad…let me just say for the record, I remember, oh I remember all too well that you were busy watching the Immaculate Reception documentary with your buddies, when I begged you to help me with my spelling homework. You blame ME for quitting school? Yeah, uh maybe think that one over Ward Cleaver…and another thing..

Get the idea?

By the way, according to my archivist, The Gow said my father told me he’d be happy to pick me up from the train station. Not a millisecond’s hesitation.

And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

And there was much rejoicing. Yay.

I think most people imagine and rehearse possible conversations, encounters and confrontations. Doesn’t everyone dream of telling their boss off and making them cry and beg you to stay with a huge raise and an apology?

What is scarier, where I am concerned regarding these inner dialogues that I rehearse all the live long day, is that they don’t always stay up in my head. Often they actually make it south down to my almighty cake hole and I start arguing with myself when I’m alone. Well, “muttering” is perhaps a more accurate description. I’m a big mutterer.. I finally figured out something about myself. I often tell people how important and valuable “my alone time” is to me. Now I know why. I have too many internal arguments that need my immediate attention. It’s important to keep on top of these things or I’ll run the risk of hurting the feelings of one of the little voices in my head. Can’t have that. I wrote about this once before…Well, sort of.

I like to think of myself as entertainingly and creatively insane, but not quite ready to be “taken away”. Although the psychiatric community may disagree with my vast and extensive community college expertise, but I think the difference between entertainingly crazy and need-to-be-taken away crazy, is that I don’t make up different little voices for my many and extensive inner disagreements. Know how I came to this theory? First of all I made it up, and second because Norman Bates did it in Psycho. I have also had the chance to observe that kind of behavior first hand, and it’s both scary and funny.

Years ago many of my friends and I moved out of the parental nests and jam packed ourselves into questionable roommate situations. One such situation involved my friend Colin, this girl I barely knew named Francine, a few dozen couch surfers and McKinley Moore. Professor Moore, as many people called him was more or less a street person and acid casualty from the 1960s. There were quite of few of these creatures bopping around my college town home. McKinley subsidized his income by buying liquor for high school and college kids who weren’t quite 21 years old yet. It may sound odd, but I assure you, there was money to be made doing this in a Massachusetts college town with strict liquor laws.

Regardless, McKinley was an odd duck. Like many street people, he had developed an aversion to bathing, which in turn caused an aversion to our getting within 10 feet of him in the hot, humid Summers. “Yeah McKinley, can you get me a six pack of Heineken and a pint of Jack Daniels. No the money’s over there waiting for you under that brick next to the VW Beetle…No no, don’t come any closer, I have uh poison ivy…Just get the liquor and slide it over to me with a broom stick.”

Bathing is a lonely business

Bathing is a lonely business

So, the eccentric and smelly McKinley lived with Colin, Francine and several others crowded into a two bedroom apartment. Francince’s room was actually a large walk in closet with a tapestry for a door and for privacy. McKinley’s room was next to hers. One evening, Francine tapped on Colin’s door when we were drinking beer and playing cards. She entered looking a little frightened. “McKinley is talking to himself” she said when we asked what was wrong. “Yeah? So?” we answered. This really wasn’t such an odd occurrence given McKinley’s overall behavior and his mannerisms. Francine got impatient and said “He’s having a conversation with himself and people who aren’t there…and he’s doing all these… different little voices for all of them.”

We exploded with laughter.

“It’s not funny you guys.” Francine whined. “I don’t have a door and I don’t want one of his imaginary friends coming in and killing or raping me in my sleep.”
“You’d rather be awake for the sex?” I offered. (An asshole and smart-ass even back then.)
Francine kicked me.
“When did he do this?” asked Colin laughing.
“Right NOW!”
“I gotta hear this.” said Adam who was there that night.

We all crept out of Colin’s room and toward the stairs quietly, or as quietly as tipsy men tend to think they are being and listened to McKinley’s convo. Sure enough, Francine had been telling the truth. McKinley had a funny and distinct voice. It reminded me slightly of the Cheech and Chong black blues-man character “Blind Melon Chitlin”

McKinley’s voice: ” I wonder if I should pop in and ask Francine if she has any….uh…grass.”
McKinley doing a weird high-pitched woman’s voice ” I don’t think she’s in her room.”
McKinley” Uhh are you quite certain?”

We listened to this bizarre conversation for a few more minutes, trying not to crack up. Francine changed rooms the next time someone moved out. Although I have always felt that McKinley was more or less harmless, I think I’d be a little disturbed hearing such conversations also.

So, luckily I am not making up other little voices for my inner dialogues. Not yet anyway.

I had enough of the media saturation of this by yesterday afternoon. This may be unpopular, but I’m going to say it anyway.

Sterling is a racist pig and scumbag, now he’s going to be gone for it. Done deal. Let him dig his heels in litigiously, he’ll lose money. He should have sold the team yesterday if you ask me.

As for the sappy “We need to start the “Healing Process” bullshit I am hearing on the news now I start to throw up a little in my mouth. Really? Healing process? I am reminded of a young woman on the Rutgers basketball team after the Imus “tragedy” going on Oprah’s show and saying how “she felt scarred for life”. Because Don-fucking-Imus said something stupid? Scarred for life? Did Oprah’s people prep them on the most maudlin thing to say that tests well, as the make up people added fake tear drops during the commercial break. We have a world class athlete and college graduate pandering to the nicey-nicey Oprah’s issue du jour, and crying on cue?

I am reminded of small children who look around to see if mommy’s looking before they start to cry when they fall down. I’d be willing to bet a week’s pay that none of the young women on the Rutger’s basketball team had even heard of Don Imus prior to him belching out a comment calling them “Nappy Headed Hoes”. While we’re at it, Don…you’re an old man, you have no business even trying to use the current Hip-Hop vernacular. Knock that shit off aiiight?

You know, we need a healing process after small children get shot en masse at a school, we need a healing process for our veterans who got screwed and are still being screwed after a war of choice…Not when a disgusting old man behaves in a disgusting manner and spews ignorant racist nonsense. I haven’t seen anywhere near this much outrage and media coverage over the 20 billion in fines that JP Morgan Chase paid in fines for breaking the law…BUT NO ONE WENT TO JAIL. Hell, that’s more of a racial issue if you ask me. Ask the incarcerated black people in jail for lesser crimes about how fair that is.

Want to know what’s really going on in the world? Open the paper past the front cover stories on Sterling, turn to page three or four and read about the mass killings in Africa, the skyrocketing poverty rate in our own country over the past 15 years…Let’s not be such shills and pawns for media corporations.

Addressing racial equality, attacking racism, promoting diversity are all admirable causes and causes I support. We’ve come a long way in this country, and we have a long way to go. Many of these issues, like affirmative action are a slippery slope, and deserve debate, compromise and revisiting. Maudlin and saccharine sentiment takes away from real sentiment. Media saturation of nonsense like this diminishes journalistic integrity.

As for Sterling’s gold-digger mistress who started this idiocy’s snowballing…She released a statement that she feels the media has been unfair and she wants to be left alone. I’d also be willing to bet a week’s pay that she already has a publicist and agent, and they’re trying to arrange a reality TV show for her while she’s within her 15 minutes of fame. You’re essentially a high priced hooker sweety pie who slept with Grandpa from The Munsters. Get over it, you’re going to cash in.

Dumb

“Stupid” is an over and misused word. All too often we throw the word ‘stupid’ around when we actually mean things like ‘oblivious’, ‘lacking in common sense’,’or lacking in manners or propriety’. The word ‘stupid’ can even mean funny and silly in a complimentary manner today in an inner-city vernacular. I had to check in with my friend Miriam Webster to see what the most basic definition of this word is.
Ah, here we are. “Not intelligent” “Not sensible or logical”. So, for simplicity’s sake and the exact circumstances of this piece let’s stick with Mimsy Webster’s definition of stupid.

The other night I was coming home from work, and had decided to duck into my local burger and chicken joint for some health food. I was feeling tired, lazy and not up for cooking. I entered Chicken Lickin’ and placed my order. Next to me at the counter was a middle aged woman trying to decide what she wanted. While I was waiting for my order to be prepared I heard this woman ask what was quite possibly the stupidest question ever. Who ever said “There are no stupid questions” had obviously never encountered this woman. She asked ( and I’m not making this up ) “How many come in the 10 piece?” She-asked-how many-come-in-a-10-piece. I shook my head to clear it and then looked more closely at this woman. She had somehow managed to put her shoes on the correct feet. Maybe someone helped her get dressed.

Now, we all say the occasional stupid thing. We all speak without thinking. Luckily I only seem to do this when trying to impress women, or during important job interviews. So, in fairness, maybe the “How many come in a 10 piece” inquiry was a fluke.

Nope. Her next statements and actions confirmed that she was a member of the room temp IQ club. She asked the nice (and patient) man behind the counter how much the 10 piece was. Oh, and in case you’re wondering; Yes the nice (and patient) man behind the counter answered her previous inquiry (“Um, 10. 10…pieces”). He managed to answer without slapping his forehead or making any sarcastic remarks. I was impressed. To be even more helpful, the counterman pointed up to the huge, illuminated menu and price list above him and less than 6 feet from this woman’s eyes. It should also be noted that every chain restaurant, pizzeria etc has this huge, menu and price list in their establishment…and yet we never seem to be at a loss for inane questions from those who don’t want to or possibly can’t read. Since the chances of her being illiterate were fair, he also vocalized the answer. “$6.99”. She slowly looked up at the menu, her mouth agape and said “Oh…you ummm have all the prices up there.” The man behind the counter nodded that, yes-indeedy all goods and their prices were right in front of the widescreen dimensions of her forehead. However, she had to double down on stupid. Not more than 2 seconds after her verbal confirmation that the prices were listed, she asked “So, how much is a 20 piece?”

Wow.

I grabbed my food and bid a hasty retreat from the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Chicken” Palace.

Unlike my fellow chicken consumer, I found my mind racing. How does a person so stupid survive in the world? How does she get dressed, cross the street, pay her bills or hold down a job, if, she was indeed employed? Who had taught her to speak…and perhaps more importantly, how? Was it a scene like something out of “The Miracle Worker” where Helen Keller finally makes a breakthrough and mental connection with water. Did some wonderful teacher with the patience of a saint have some kind of breakthrough with this women where she began shrieking “TEN PIECE…TENNN PIECE” and embracing the saintly teacher?

Although I don’t make these type of determinations, it seems to me that if she is genuinely this slow then she should probably be eligible for some kind of public assistance or disability. Is there some kind of doctors note that can be taken to a public assistance office ( or perhaps safety-pinned to the person in question ) that states their IQ is too low to telemarket or any other kind of employment? Back in my Western Massachusetts hometown the local supermarkets hire the mentally retarded (or cerebrally challenged, or whatever feel-good euphemistic phrase is en vogue) to bag groceries and retrieve shopping carts. I have mentioned it several times because frankly, I have always been in awe of their work ethic and their attitudes while doing their job. They have become my go-to example in regards to the chronically stupid or lazy. Hell, they have a better attitude than I do when it comes to work and dealing with the general public. Interesting to note that my job is to deal with the general public.

I seriously doubt this woman could get a job much less hold on to one. She might fill out an application in finger paint or crayon. Anything requiring a degree or certification is out. Maybe she could move boxes from Point A to Point B, but she’d need regular supervision or she’d get lost, or forget to put the boxes down. People are fond of saying “Go work at McDonald’s” or they make fast food references to denote an overall lack of skills, drive and intelligence. Yes, it would be a lovely poetic irony if this woman were to work in a chicken or rib joint…but let’s be real here for a moment. How long would it take her to reach into the hot oil to grab a wing? I’m sure the DMV might take her if they had an executive position open. Then there is always congress or the senate. But, she might be over-qualified.

It’s sad and scary that so many people don’t want to or simply wont think. It seems to me with regard to people who can‘t think are at least giving it the old (community) college try.

Furthermore, rather than allowing for natural selection to smarten up the species; we as human beings spend time and money to cater to these people, when really the most natural and perhaps merciful thing to do would be to leave them behind to smarten up or die.

It never ceases to amaze me the many different attitudes that people have regarding nature, having a humane mind set in regards to animals and other people. If someone was watching a nature program on Discovery, PBS, Animal Planet or any other educational show, and there was an animal who got killed and eaten because it was incredibly stupid, we wouldn’t bat an eye. If we were watching with a small child, and said child got upset because the cute little antelope or baby hippo got killed and eaten by the hyenas, lions or some other predator, we’d stop and explain the natural process to the child. “I know honey, it is sad that the cute little deer got killed and eaten…but you see, that deer in particular kept walking into a tree over and over again while trying to go to the river for a drink of water, rather than going around the tree…well that’s nature sweety. That’s how nature or God gets rid of the weak and the stupid, so there is enough food and water for everyone else.”

Years ago, the TV show ‘Seinfeld’ made a famous episode called “The Soup Nazi” which was based on Al Yeganeh’s restaurant “The Soup Kitchen” here in NYC. The episode was a big hit and a cult classic which coined the phrase “No soup for you!!” Jerry Seinfeld, writer-producer Larry David, and David’s former next door neighbor ; Kenny Kramer all experienced Al Yeganeh’s unique manner of dealing with customers who routinely lined up for his delicious soups and chili. Mr. Al would simply expedite the out- the- door- and- around -the- corner lines of people who had come for his soup. If you didn’t know what you wanted, or hadn’t figured it out by reading (gasp) the huge menu overhead while in line, Al would tell you to step aside. If you asked questions that could have been answered by reading the clearly printed and centrally posted menu, he’d frown and point. I never went to the Soup Man “back in the day” as it wasn’t in my neighborhood, and the Seinfeld episode apparently made the place a tourist trap nightmare. It even caused Al to close, sell his name and image to another company, and reopen under a different name years later. I remember there was an article about how he (Al) was upset that Seinfeld and the show had ruined his life and business. Many people had the knee-jerk reaction that Seinfeld and the show had helped him in terms of popularity…but I suspect this isn’t what the soup man had in mind. He was already doing a booming business prior to the episode, and hadn’t been branded a “Nazi” except, perhaps by some customers who don’t like to be told to step aside. My friend Herbie used to go to his place for lunch all the time. “Was he really a Nazi?” I once asked Herbie. “No” Herbie exclaimed rather passionately. “He was right. Who wants to wait in line behind someone who can’t be bothered to read the menu? He just kept the line moving and told people to step aside if they didn’t know what they want”.

This raises an interesting issue. Should it be socially acceptable to be dismissive of those who aren’t paying attention. As it stands now in society, we cannot. That person who has been standing in front of you at Starbucks, blabbing away on their cell phone until finally it’s their turn to order…socially speaking they can hem and haw for 10 or 20 minutes and think about what they want. Yet, it’s painfully obvious to me that they are in the wrong here. They damn well should have made up their mind while waiting in line, and then taken care of their cell phone addiction. Now, some people are considerate. They know they don’t know what they want and let others go ahead of them. It’s the right thing to do. I’d venture to say that most people, if on their cell phone, or who simply don’t know what they want, and the counter person bypassed them to attend to the person behind them who is ready to order, pay, pick up and move along…then that person would get angry with the staff member and think they were being rude. I have even experienced this first hand, so I know of what I speak. I’ve worked many a busy weekend night at a bar or restaurant where it’s 3 deep at the bar. You ask “Can I help you?” The person stands directly in front of the taps and asks what you have on draft. Or they simply don’t know what they want…OR the crème- de la crème of busy bar douchebaggery …they wait for the bartender or server to ask how they can help them, only to turn to 5-20 friends scattered throughout the establishment and ask them what they want. This is when they decided to have a little pow wow.


“You guys want shots?”
“Yeah.”
“No.”
“What kinda shots?”
“I just wanna glass a wine.”
“What kinda wine?
“Are we getting shots?”
“Yeah.”
“No.”

And so on and so on… The person conducting this impromptu survey will become angry if the bartender attempts to serve someone else who has been waiting patiently, has their money out and just wants a bottle of beer.

It also dawns on me that people who go into a McDonald’s, chicken shack, Starbucks or what have you, should have a basic idea of what they want to begin with. You don’t go into a Starbucks hoping they might finally have fish tacos do you?

I understand that people don’t like to be told what to do, or to be told that they’re in the way or holding things up. But sometimes it’s necessary. When I have visited London, my friend Ruprecht had to tell me a couple time to step aside on subway escalators so others could get by me if they wanted or needed to. I think he even pulled me to one side once or twice. I didn’t like it, but it GOT it. I understood.

I suppose the 10 piece queen does provide a small service. She makes others feel more secure in their intelligence. So, she’s got that going for her . . . which is nice.

Fra-Gee-Lay. Must be Italian

Fra-Gee-Lay. Must be Italian

During one of my many whining sessions over the phone with my late mother, she once told me; “You know, I have noticed you are very easily slighted. I can be that way too, but it’s really not a great way to go through life.” She was right. Of course, (I never told her this. Rule number one in the Parent/Child instruction book is “Never admit when they are right.”) I am, and I have always been, hypersensitive and it’s not an endearing quality or a particularly pleasant way to live. Add to this my raging generalized anxiety disorder, my exceptional creativity and a newish technology (social media) for my insecurities to work out with, and we have a recipe for a fairly miserable online existence to couple my everyday fairly miserable existence. Trust me, my many insecurities and various neurosis’ don’t need to work out… they are already jacked like a Gold’s Gym Steroid Queen.

I’m not going to bash Facebook like I did cell phones in a recent post because I use Facebook on a daily basis. FB has been wonderful for reconnecting with old friends and staying in touch with others. It also allows for me to post clever, poignant and funny little one-liners, creating a facade of depth, decency, a soul and many other positive qualities that I pretend to possess.

“Butt-Hurt” is one of my favorite new expressions from the contemporary vernacular. According to another favorite website of mine; Urban Dictionary, Butt-hurt is defined as:

An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. Frequently associated with a cessation of communication and overt hostility towards the “aggressor.”

Perfect. I think the reason I like this term is because I have spent so much of my life being butt-hurt. Like a pompous hipster asshat, I can honestly say I was into being butt-hurt before it became main stream. I’ve been butt-hurt regularly since 1975 when my grandmother told me I was sitting too close to the TV, watching my neighbor; Mr. Rogers, and that was why I had to wear glasses. (With the dorky strap that would insure that I wouldn’t lose them, but that I would be beaten up regularly at recess.) I was 5 at the time, so this was probably 2 or 3 years before I started using obscenities and threats of physical violence when addressing my grandmother…But I do remember not speaking to her, until she bribed me later that night with rhubarb pie and ice cream. I’m a big fan of using the silent treatment, which is interesting as I really suck at sticking with it. I fold after the second or third, “OK…what’s up?” As I said I capitulated quickly with the offer of the pie. I was cheap then, and come to think of it…. I’m cheap now too.

Facebook nuance and etiquette is a perfect breeding ground for butt-hurt-ed-ness or is it butt-hurtury?. I routinely pout and sulk over my FB friends not responding quickly enough (or at all) to my many inquiries, greetings and salutations. “I wished you a happy birthday 16 minutes ago and you haven’t thanked me….WTF?” What’s worse is that I know they saw what I wrote, because the little messenger thingy confirms with a little “Seen” followed by the time. “What’s the matter? Too busy to type or text “You too” after I wish you a “Happy St Patrick’s Day”? The time feature allows a truly anal retentive and delicate little flower like myself to determine exactly how long they have been ignoring me. Sometimes they respond just as I was settling into a nice juicy sulk, and I almost resent this. Nothing worse than having one’s butt-hurt interrupted or…um healed? Is that the opposite? Butt-healed? Well if it isn’t, it should be…that’s a great expression too. Remember, if it isn’t an expression yet, you read it here first.

"Yeah, I hath de-friended her this very morn. For she doth believeth that she is all of that."

“Yeah, I hath de-friended her this very morn. For she doth believeth that she is all of that.”

So there is that little nuance of FB. Sending messages on FB is communicating, but it’s a very different type of communication. One cannot just stop talking during a phone conversation. (Like I used to with certain exceptionally long winded family members. For example, If my grandmother started talking about how Aunt Miggie’s piles were giving her trouble lately, I knew I had a 20 minute lapse in our conversation window where I could quietly put down the phone, make a sandwich, trim my toenails or do a crossword puzzle before I had to pick the phone back up and say “Yeah, that must be terrible.” and pretend I had been listening the entire time. I just wonder if other people who are more well-adjusted than I (you know like, pretty much everyone) get upset by this. I hope so. I don’t like being the only neurotic on FB.

Another thing I wonder about in regards to FB is “de-friending” someone. To begin with “De-Friending” sounds frighteningly Orwellian.

“What’s wrong Scott? You look really down.”
“I was just de-friended.”
“Ouch.”
“Yeah.”
“Who was it?”
“Jimmy.”
“Jimmy?”
“Yeah.”
“Jimmy from high school?”
“No, we aren’t Facebook friends.”
“Jimmy from the Starbucks in Union Square?”
“No, Jimmy from the bar.”
“Do I know him?”
“I don’t know,”
“De-friended huh?”
“Yeah. (sigh)”
“Um, you want a hug or something?”

FB doesn’t tell you that you’ve been de-friended and I think most people aren’t aware of a de-friending right away, unless it is someone you correspond with regularly. I wonder if the executives and developers at FB ever had some kind of butt-hurt management seminar to avoid these kinds of situations. I mean it certainly wouldn’t do to have flashing lights and Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Good Bye by Steam playing when you sign on to FB after a de-friending. (Although in a warped way, that would be kind of cool) De-friending on FB is a little like de-friending in real life in that these people sometimes just phase out of our lives. I tried to find some friends who had suffered from a major de-friend fallout when researching this piece, but no one owned up to having had one. I’m sure it happens. Although the experience probably lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. When a friendship, FB or otherwise, ends, there should be some interesting and dramatic fallout…. some yelling followed by an “I want my Ken Burns Civil War DVDs and my ABBA CD’s back!!!” It’s just not the same, to hover your mouse over the “Friends” box and click them out of your life.

“Oh Screw you, ya creep!”
“Screw Me??? Screw Me?”
“Yeah!”
“Well, if that’s how you feel!”

“Let’s see…here it is…’friends’ … (CLICK) “Well, I certainly told her!”

At this rate, in the next 10 years we will all be breaking up, divorcing, getting fired and colonoscopy results via a swift click of the mouse

(RING) “Excuse me I need to take this….Hello? I see…OK Thanks. Bye.”
“Who was that?”
“My wife…she’s leaving me and running off with our pool-boy; CoCo.”

I admit I have gone on FB purges that would have made Wacky Joe Stalin proud. I have this weird notion that people with over 300 “friends” on any social media site are highly suspect. So occasionally I go through my FB friends and just drop the people I never speak to. What’s really strange about this is that I almost always find a “friend” or three whom I don’t even recall becoming FB buds with. I don’t worry about this too much. These things can happen when one has been known to drink to excess. To date, no one has reached out to appeal a de-friend ruling I have made. Maybe it’s a question of pride. Personally, I would be crushed upon discovering that I had become the victim of a de-friending. Even if it was one of the friends I don’t remember as we became friends while drinking to excess.

Oh, come on, Scott. You can tell me. Just whisper it.

Oh, come on, Scott. You can tell me. Just whisper it.

Sometimes we need to ponder a de-friending. I recently cut my cousin off after serious consideration. He had been posting political rhetoric nonsense on an hourly basis. For the most part I laughed it off, or pointed out where he was wrong. The final straw was when he posted that we need to teach the bible, morality and handgun training in schools. Yeah. There’s a real “What would Jesus do” philosophy. Sorry Cuz. I love you, but I don’t want to get interviewed by Anderson Cooper after the FBI and ATF surround your compound.

“What can you tell me about your cousin Scott?”
“Well, he was my favorite cousin growing up. We played Star Wars and tormented his sister a great deal.”
“Were you Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?”
“I was always Luke Skywalker.”
“That sucks. We had a gay kid in my neighborhood growing up…a boy who didn’t mind being Princess Leia.”
“Hey, we had one of those…we also got a tall wino to play Chewbacca.”
“How did you feel about being Luke Skywalker?”
“Well, it kinda sucked, Anderson. But, I was the blond cousin and he owned a vest, so it seemed a logical conclusion. But, of course, Han is much cooler.”
“I see on his Facebook page he commented that “The Bible and Handguns should be taught in American grammar schools.”
“Yes, sadly that was when I defriended him.”
“Do you think he’s dressed up like Han Solo in his compound?”
“Good question.”

This raises another issue and kindles a small fire of insecurity. When you de-friend someone, and they don’t reach out for an explanation, do you begin to wonder if they really give a rat’s ass? How dare this person whom you have no further interest in interacting with not flip out when they discover your little social nugget of rejection. I have to say, upon further reflection, it must be rough being a junior or senior high school student during the Facebook era. Back when I was an adolescent (an actual adolescent and not the 42 year old I am today with an adolescent’s mentality) we had to go to the mall for rejection that was more up close and personal. It was the 80s and things were tougher back then. Speaking of junior and senior high school, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be a young student during the Facebook era. Kids today are really proficient with computers and I shudder to think of the cyber bullying potential. It’s interesting that I have reconnected with lots of people from high school that I frankly never interacted with back then. As adults they say nice things to me “You always cracked me up.” No I didn’t. I wasn’t that funny. In fact, you never spoke to me in high school. Sadly, I can understand why adolescents are committing suicide as a result of cyber and Facebook bullying. Just thinking about what complete and utter bastards my friends and I were in high school. I could easily see us creating fictitious Facebook pages for classmates I didn’t care for. “Hey, 266 people like the “Jerome’s a Bum Boy Douchebag” page. I even had a kid I hated from high school try to invite me to his list of friends. I refused, and he tried again. Finally he wrote and asked why I had refused his friendship request and I mentioned that he had stolen my bike in 7th grade and that I am generally pretty enthusiastic in regards to cultivating grudges.

marx

Hello, I must be going” Is a brilliant Marx Brothers song and routine. It’s also a wonderful description for another FB phenomena. I hope I’m not alone here, but I have at least 5 FB friends who can’t, don’t or wont interact with me for more than 5 minutes without typing “Well, I have to go now.”, “Dinners ready,” or ” I have to pee.” I understand that people need to pee sometimes, or that dinner is occasionally ready, but every time they are chatting with me? I’m dubious. Then it becomes even more awkward because there is no way to ask about your friend’s rate of urination without seeming needy and annoying. Interestingly, a former FB friend once called me those very words. At least she had the class and courage to say this in person to me, which I appreciated and which allowed me to retort using an expletive that women aren’t so crazy about. No, not that one…the other expletive. She asked for it.

In Japanese there is a word; Wa or Wah which is an expression for a collective social harmony. Japan is a relatively small country with a lot of mountainous terrain that isn’t so suitable for habitation and a large population. It can get quite crowded in Japan and ‘Wa’ is the way that people get along through a rather rigid code of behavior and manners. A friend of mine who taught for over a year in Japan told me of a gesture that the Japanese make when they are in a serious rush or find themselves in an urgent situation and simply don’t have the time to say 14,000 sumimasens which is an all-purpose Japanese Wa expression that means “Excuse Me.”, “Thank You.”, “Sorry.” and “Yes, I’m being a rude bastard, but this is an emergency.” This gesture is considered a little rude, yet is still socially acceptable. Probably similar to the charming western custom of farting during a dinner party and then blaming the dog. I must pause here and say, I am a gentleman in these instances and own up…proudly. “Yep, that was me…pass the beans please…Where were we? Oh yes… You were saying handguns, morality and the bible should be taught in grammar schools” So, when a Japanese businessman is in a rush to catch the 3:10 to Kyoto and is in a crowded train station, he will lower his head and place a flattened hand across his forehead (much like Curly from the Three Stooges avoiding a eye gouge from Moe) and plow on through. Everyone understands he’s in a rush.

So, perhaps in the interest of Facebook Wa, maybe we should find a slightly rude but socially acceptable way to get people to stop pestering us with every day minutia or to knock off the “Hello, I must be goings.”

Maybe we should start color coding our friends, or come up with an acronym like LOL when we aren’t in the mood to or can’t chat for long. How about BTD (Busy these days) or CRTN (Cant really talk now) or how about IFWTPBSAE (I’m finished with this piece but suck at endings)

The End. Oh, no, wait . . . it's not.

The End.
Oh, no, wait . . . it’s not.

Epilogue:

I felt a need to revisit this piece as I have recently experienced some FB and former friend dramedy. I haven’t been able to make my faithful editor laugh in a couple months which is one of the reasons I haven’t posted anything lately.

I had a friend. I say friend in that we had been to each other’s homes, exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts, been to movies and other outings together and were familiar to a degree with each other’s lives. He ran a football pool I have been a member of for 15 plus years. I knew this friend from my former job. When I left the job we didn’t see each other much, but we were still friends via facebook. We got together once or twice after I left the job, but saw significantly less of each other.

He became a classic example of the “Hello, I must be going” type that I mentioned. He was on FB daily, several times a day posting news stories, photos and observations, just like I do. However, I found when I reached out to him he wasn’t particularly friendly or responsive. On several occasions I left our “conversations” feeling like he thought I was a pest. Now I have admitted I am hypersensitive, and certainly online/social media communications often lack context and tone. They’re easily misunderstood, and I’m sure I am guilty of coming across as cold, dismissive or whatever at times…hopefully not too often as I don’t want to be a hurtful or mean person. This friend, we’ll call him “Pete” for the sake of simplicity…Pete would write things like “You need to move on.” or “We’ve discussed this already.”…so yes, suffice to say I felt like a pest whenever I reached out to him. I was a little hurt, and I was a little pissed off too as I went through over a year of Pete’s nonstop lamenting about a love interest who was obviously and plainly not interested.

During Gay Pride month I had posted “Happy Gay Pride To All My LGBT Friends!”. Almost immediately, one of my FB acquaintances took issue with this and corrected me that the correct term is “LGBT Pride”. We had an argument over semantics. I messaged Pete who is gay and whom both he and I had agreed that PC feel good speech has gone way too far and that we are constantly walking on eggshells with what we say. As usual, Pete was a little dismissive. Maybe he didn’t agree with me. Maybe he was busy…I don’t know. But he messaged “Have a good day Scott.” which I took as a dismissal. I responded “Sorry to have bothered you.” and took him off my friends list. It had been awhile in coming. I was tired of feeling like I was an annoyance. He wrote back to me and said “Why did you say that, I was just telling you to have a nice day” I wrote back an explanation that perhaps we’d been misunderstanding each other.

As I said, there are no bells and whistles when a friend is removed from your list. He found out a couple weeks later, and wrote a rather firm parting shot at me. After speaking to my best friend about it, we decided the best response was no response at all.

Still the whole episode was sad and disappointing, and its conclusion was decidedly unsatisfying.

Editors Note: Oops, I thought I had posted this piece a while back. Umm . . . better late than never?

Looks like fun, huh?

Looks like fun, huh?

It’s probably best to start this rant with a little background into my thoughts on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) as well as my struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which the MTA routinely exacerbates to the best of their ability. For those of you who don’t know what Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder is, perhaps I should explain, or try to. For over 20 years I have been suffering from bouts of crippling panic and fear which can strike out of the blue or when I become agitated and stressed. I have often tried to describe it to people who have never had one of these episodes, but I’ve always been at a loss. I feel dizzy, terrified, and short of breath. I have thoughts of losing my mind and/or dying flying through my brain. I tremble and hyperventilate and get tremendously entertaining twitches and spasms, which the ladies really seem to dig. I imagine that I probably look like someone who has smoked a little too much crack and skipped a hearty breakfast. Being aware of how I must look makes things worse and on occasion people have asked me if I am alright. More often however, they give me a strange look and move slowly away from me.

To this point I have combated my anxiety and panic attacks with lifestyle changes like exercise, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine and the like. What vexes me most are people’s attitudes in regards to panic attacks, which is generally summed up in three words “Get over it.” Get over it hmmm? Gee, Professor Freud, I never thought of that. You’re a genius…wow years of therapy and paralyzing fear wasted when all this time I just needed to ‘get over it’. Oh, thank you SO very much for imparting your wisdom upon me!

What other pearls do you have to share?

What other pearls do you have to share?

I was diagnosed years ago with “Anticipatory Anxiety” which means my silly little brain works against me to a certain degree. If I have an impending unpleasant errand (and taking the subway is always unpleasant) I will think and worry about it to the point where I give myself panic attacks when the time comes for whatever mundane but stressful little mission I have to complete.

Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are two separate conditions within the Nervous Nelly spectrum. Panic Disorder means suffering from panic/anxiety attacks. GAD means being a worrier. I worry about everything. Add to this my creative side and I can find some really elaborate and frankly ridiculous things to waste my time worrying about. I dread when I have a message on my call waiting, because it most certainly will be bad news. Or maybe I’m not having a panic attack after all…maybe I am having a severe allergic reaction to the multi vitamin that I took last night which probably expired years ago and developed a deadly mold spore and…well, you get the idea.

My life in the fast lane

My life in the fast lane

The MTA/subway is a veritable candy store of stressors and anxiety enhancers. I have to take my hat off to them for creating the most stressful and unpleasant mode of transportation possible in a modern American city. When things aren’t stressful enough, the MTA and its staff step up their game by screaming at the passengers through a perpetually broken intercom system and selling ad space to be filled by the most disturbing advertisements humanly possible, prominently displayed to the temporarily captive rider.

Today I hopped on the N train. To combat the stress of the subway and hopefully avoid a complete panic breakdown, I try to bring things along with me that will have a calming effect. I used to bring a Sam Cooke CD everywhere as I found his voice and songs rather soothing. I also like to suck on Halls honey-lemon cough drops. More recently I have been bringing “The Path To Tranquility” by the Dalai Lama to read. It’s a great book and it has a calming effect on me while reminding me of how karmically bankrupt I am. Two birds with one stone, I like efficiency.

Looking up from the DL’s book I saw the words “AIDS” and “Anal Cancer” in big, bright red letters. Upon closer investigation I saw it was a condom ad placed by the city’s health department and Mayor KillJoy. The ad was explaining that even with the new antiviral medications available today you still run an extremely high risk of anal cancer if you become infected with AIDS. To further demonstrate this, there was a photo of a nervous looking young man and a fucking x-ray of anal cancer. What’s the matter? The city’s health department couldn’t find a photo of some poor bastard lying on his stomach in an operating room with a black and bloody grapefruit sized tumor sticking out of his emergency exit?

It dawned on me that the city posts all kinds of unpleasant ads in subway cars. A recent anti-obesity campaign shows cans of soda, iced teas and other sugared beverages covered in what looks like fat and blood removed via liposuction. Effective, disgusting and a stellar anxiety trigger. Well done MTA and a nice assist from the City of New York and its billionaire, disapproving daddy-pants Mayor.

Charming

Charming

Recently, after having a serious budget deficit, the MTA raised fares and cut services. They hire the best and brightest to run the system and pay these men and women 6 figures and incredible benefits, and the best they can seem to do is regularly cut services and raise fares. I would think that the ad space on the subways and buses would be a source of income. Sounds like a smart move until I saw the MTA advertising themselves. Last time I checked there is no competition. There is only the MTA and no private sector subways and buses. They’re out of money, don’t need to advertise, and yet spend a fortune on print ads for themselves. My favorite ad was touting how hard the MTA is working on improving things. They had a photo of four workers welding a bit of track. Having seen the corrupt union members and “workers” employed by the MTA, I knew instantly that the MTA had hired models for the ad campaign as there is a painfully obvious union regulation which strictly prohibits 4 people from working at the same time. More money wasted…

Other ads on the subway include…

Impotence; A doctor’s ad showing a frustrated and frankly disgusted looking woman and a sad looking guy in bed looking sheepishly for the TV remote.

Anti-Drinking; Depicting an obviously hung-over and disheveled woman who had too many cosmos and ended up sleeping with the nightclubs coat check guy and bouncer. Or, a drunk driver languishing in prison.

Battered women, homeless people, and my favorite ad by Dr. Zizmor; who is a dermatologist with before and after drawings of his successful treatments. In keeping with the MTA’s disturbing ad campaign I think that Dr. Z (as he calls himself…I don’t trust doctors that advertise in subways or use their first initial after “Dr.”) should make his next add using heavily photo shopped pictures of cystic acne, warts, and other sexy skin disorders.

I feel that as a tax payer and commuter that my money would be better spent on some cheerful subway imagery. I want pictures of puppies and unicorns on my anti homeless ads. How about a Cookie Monster condom ad? I’ll even write a catchy slogan “C is also for Condom so we don’t get Cancer near our Colon”
Would it really be so expensive to play some nice classical music on the trains…or some Motown?

I am going to send this off to the mayor and the MTA to be ignored immediately.

I have the best best-friend in the whole wide world. Who else would answer the phone at 5am and cheerfully listen to my ranting and raving? Well, the suicide hotline probably would, but who else really? I often wonder aloud what I did in a past life to deserve the frequent bad things that happen to me. “Was I some particularly nasty and sadistic concentration camp guard or something in my previous life?” is my standard rhetorical question. Since I’m a grumpus maximus I generally don’t think of the nice things I might have done in a past life to deserve the regular rations of everyday good luck that…maybe I should? The next time my besty does something sweet or kind for me, or I happen to catch Goodbye Mr Chips just starting on TCM (I always seem to catch the last bit of the film, and it is unsatisfying), I should ask myself “Did I run into a burning building to save a crippled kitten in some past existence?”

“Have you had a cough of cuppy yet?” my BFF; the Gow politely asks when she calls me early in the morning. Sadly, I’m not always this thoughtful. “Why didn’t you get out of the shower when I called? Why are you so damned selfish?” I scream at her.

So, what is bugging you today, Scott? (You’re probably asking yourself.) Well, get a load of this.

Bandwagon_of_Week_xlarge

1.Chloe Angyal: Feminist blogger and freelance writer; Chloe Angyal got on my nerves last night. According to a Huffington Post article MIZZ Angyal took issue with a storefront sign placed in front of a restaurant called OatMeals NY (Guess what they serve?). The offending sign read:

“Did You Know”

“Bagel with Cream Cheese-600 Calories”

“Oatmeal with fresh berries-150 Calories”

“Summers coming…
Just saying”

Shocking….simply shocking.

Well, Chloe, who obviously hadn’t expressed any outrage in the last 3 minutes, tweeted that the sign was “Fat-Shamey and Gross”, and what’s worse was that OatMeals NY took her seriously, tweeted an apology and promised to remove the sign. Tweeting….uggh a technology for people to reach thousands or millions of others before giving any actual though to what they should say. First of all, her “outrage” is ridiculous, and this is coming from Captain Ridiculous Outrage. Second of all, I don’t know if I am ready to live in a world where terms like “Fat-Shamey” make the news. And third and possibly most important. “What the Fuck???” It’s women like you, MIZZ Angyal who do a disservice to legitimate women’s issues with idiocy like this. Get a life would you Chloe? A sign that would be truly ridiculing fat people would read something along the lines of “Hey Lard Ass, skip the pizza and burgers today and get a salad for a change…Wouldn’t it be nice to see your toes this Summer?”

It seems painfully apparent that the owners of OatMeals NY are already doing or trying to do their part to offer healthy breakfast options (except the bowls with the ‘nilla wafers, bananas and heavy cream) First we have campaigns devoid of any personal responsibility demanding calorie counts by law…now people aren’t saying it delicately enough?

I’m overweight myself, and I know all too well how tough it can be to lose weight and especially to maintain this, the prejudices and everything that goes along with weight issues. Once while in Miami in the 90s, someone I was speaking to actually reached over and pinched my stomach saying “This is South Beach, you need to work out more.” 30 seconds later after a good pummeling by me, he seems to have reconsidered his observations on my fitness. This was 19 years and 25 lbs ago too. Sometimes commentary from the rude and clueless has shamed me into being more vigilant with my diet and gotten me to exercise more. Like many things, a little shame or pride in small doses coupled with some self respect can be a positive thing OatMeals NY’s sign was a gentle reminder and nothing more…It was certainly nothing for Chole to get her sensible panties in a bunch over. I know I have said this twice within 2 paragraphs, but in your case it warrants repetition Get a life Chole….Summers coming….Just sayin’.

CK

Thank goodness I’m a man and I’m not bombarded with objectifying or unrealistic male media images. WHEW!

The arrogance and self righteousness of people who elect themselves as a spokesperson for various victim groups often cause more harm than good. Spike Lee regularly causes me and many others to roll our eyes rather than bringing attention to real issues of racial inequality in this country. if you want to be cutting edge and original Chloe, how about writing an article that Calvin Klein and Under Armour portray unrealistic and damaging images of men with their underwear ads?….You know, something the feminists have been harping about for decades now….when it happens to women.

south-park-article

2. My second rant was over the hypocrisy of politicians in Texas, Senators Cornyn and Cruz to be exact. Last week there was a terrible explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas. People were hurt and killed as well as jobs lost and property being destroyed. The emergency workers in TX stepped up like so many amazing first responders all around the country. The chutzpah of the situation was that TX lawmakers who voted against federal emergency funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and wanted to secede from the union after President Shaft-Superfly-Dolomyte was re-elected…now wanted federal disaster funds for this. I guess it’s not socialism now huh? I thought you big tough guys in Texas were all about independence and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps with none of that commie federal aid crap.

Hurricane Sandy was a natural disaster that impacted hundreds of thousands of people directly or indirectly. The unfortunate events in TX were a company’s accident…probably based on negligence. OK right-wingers…you want less government oversight and regulation as well as a return to personal responsibility? Here’s a perfect opportunity to see how well that works out. It seems painfully obvious to me who the bill for this disaster should be sent to. I don’t want to see people hurt, property damaged or jobs lost. I’d like our government to help those in need as a result of disasters that aren’t their fault. Not everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy lived right on the beach. There was also massive cause and effect, collateral damage after Sandy.

Last but not least was a news story about new technology that would allow for cellphone use and texting at some NYC underground subway stations. Now, this was inevitable. I am already cringing inside as I think of thousands of people at Grand Central and Times Square station shuffling along in a texting haze and paying no attention whatsoever to those who are around them. The news, however was raving about how wonderful this development will be for safety and the “See Something, Say Something” Anit-terrorism campaign here in NYC. I’ve been trying to swear less in my writing, but this warrants a Puh-fucking-leeeeeze. 99% of the texting and cellphone junkies wouldn’t report a bomb if they saw a cartoonish black metal bowling ball shaped thing with a flaming wick. They’d just continue to tweet “I’m in Times Square and want some oatmeal.” or they’d be updating their Facebook status.

Lets just call this what it is…pandering to cellphone junkies who start to have convulsions if they cant use their Verizon life support systems for 10 minutes and spare me the safety/benefit to humanity angle huh?

Beatles

In closing I’d like to revisit these things quickly after I have had a little time to ponder them.

1. Yesterday I saw that a young woman whom I briefly dated had posted Chloe Angyal’s article on her Facebook page and was engaged in the exchange of commentary with other men and women. I was floored that such a bright and intelligent woman, who is well versed in very real causes (she works for the ACLU ) was taking what Angyal had to say to heart. This gave me pause. My first impulse was to post something to the effect of “really?…REALLY?” But I quickly realized I would be outnumbered and would just redouble the anger in the post. So, instead, I say respectfully…. there are much more important issues at hand in regards to weight, self image and women’s issues to spend our outrage on. Outrage is funny that way…the less you express, the more validity you garner.

2. We live in the United States of America….and the first word of that is United. We can have different laws by state depending on the realities attitudes and mores of the region. Last week after the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon I was very upset with how quickly people pounced on the President and were looking to use the tragedy for political ammunition. We would all be better off if we were to think about that “United” part of our country. Comeuppance is a very satisfying thing, and sure it’s nice to point out the hypocrisy of these elected officials and those who share their political ideals….but at the end of the day, people got hurt, died, experienced loss and I for one want to be there for them, just as I hope they’d be there for me.

3. Cell phones aren’t going to go away and as we speak people are working away in little corporate laboratories to enable us to use our cell phones in airplanes, tunnels and in our coffins. What many seem to forget is that we thrived for years without cell phones, texting, twitter, myface, etc. Seems to me the most effective terrorist attack these days would be to disrupt people’s cell phone service. We’d really notice that.

It has been awhile since I have posted anything. My apologies as I know how many of you have been waiting with baited breath…or baiting with weighted breath for my latest complaint opera. Enjoy!

Too far, my friend. Too, too far!

Too far, my friend. Too, too far!

Customers of Size

I logged on to my e-mail account and the news headlines flashed across my homepage. I noticed an article titled “Worst Airline For Overweight Passengers” I had to check that article out because I’m overweight and seeing people who are singled out for being so big that it requires a corporate policy change makes me feel better about myself. Diets and exercise are so mundane and predictable…I just wear more black and hang out with fatter people.

In the first line of this article the expression “Customers of Size” was used. What does that make the rest of us? Is this the feel good marketing term used when someone is stopped at the airport check-in and told that they will need to buy a second ticket? One can’t say “Not so fast there ‘All-You-Can-Eat’! We’re going to need you to step on this scale.”

No, they have to pleasantly state. “I’m sorry ma’am, but it looks like you might fall under our ‘Customer-of-Size’ criteria. Could you just hand me the extra crispy 12 piece and step on the scale of shame please? Don’t worry Ma’am, no one will take it. Let’s see…three hundred and eighty…no, well you’re welcome to take them off but I don’t think removing your shoes will make that much of a difference…” I think there is a definite market for a new, upstart airline with unlimited snacks and double-wide seats. Fatty-Fatty-Two-By-Four Airlines? Come fly the chunky skies?

“Customers of Size” is a euphemistic and very confusing expression. It’s worse than “People of Color” We all have colors and sizes. Are there other such expressions on the horizon? Will people with lousy hygiene become People of Stank? Would this turn me from a “Man who couldn’t get laid with Brad Pitt’s dick” into a “Man of Hand?” And here I was hoping for “Involuntarily Celibate American.” Actually I think “Man of Hand” is a lovely expression.

“So, are you seeing anyone?”
“No, My girlfriend and I broke up in June and I’m playing the field. I’m a Man of Hand.”

How far will this go? I shudder to think.

Customer of Zit (Bad skin)
Customer of Douche (Jersey Shore Clone)
Customer of Slut (OK…that one has potential)

The euphemistic feel-good language is nothing new, but as I said before, it is something that has crept up on us as a society, and sadly I think it will continue to creep. Someone is going to sue an airline for being referred to as “Fat”, “Large” or “Obese”. “Um, excuse me; I don’t care for that word. It’s ‘Person of Size’ if you don’t mind.”

My Boy Lollipop

While riding the dreaded subway I happened to glance at one of the many gross-out public health ads that have abounded during the Bloomberg regime. This ad was an anti-sugar/dental care ad. At the top of the poster was an adorable little black girl, perhaps 6 or 7 years old. She reminded me of one of the Huckstable kids from The Cosby Show. The little cutey was sucking on a lollipop. But oh no, not in Mayor Bloomberg’s nursery, because directly below the sweet little girl was a disgusting dental photo straight out of the cast of Deliverance complete with repulsive black holes and gum lesions. I swear this photo was borrowed by one of the anti-crystal meth before and after ads. Apparently in Mister Bloomberg’s Neighborhood a little kid isn’t allowed to enjoy a lollipop.

We had PSA’s and movies in school when I was a kid that explained that a steady diet of cookies, ding dongs and candy was unhealthy. However, I don’t recall any of them giving me nightmares. We also had these mythological creatures called “Parents” (you may have heard of them) who rationed out the sugar to us, despite our best efforts to thwart their best efforts. I once constructed an elaborate rope ladder in response to my grandparent’s cookie jar being placed at a much higher elevation in a vain attempt to discourage me. The most disturbing thing we had were Crest toothpaste commercials featuring “The Cavity Creeps” who were little mouth goblins made out of something that resembled fecal matter. They ran around vandalizing someone’s pearly whites with jack hammers and pick axes while chanting “We Make Holes In Teeth”.

Little kids like candy. It is one of their few goals in life…staying up late, toys and candy….that’s it. That’s all I wanted as a kid. I wanted to stay up later and watch some of the grown up shows on TV, I wanted sweets and more toys. This is and was a short lived time of perfect innocence and unmatched happiness. And guess what? Nature has already built in a defense mechanism. We lose our teeth at an early age and they are replaced by a new and harder/stronger set. It dawns on me that the singing and dancing cartoon toothbrushes that I grew up with were pretty effective. Did Bloomberg commission Rob Zombie or Eli Roth for this ad campaign?

I wrote an article a couple years ago about subway ads and panic attacks, which was ironically titled Subway Ads and Panic Attacks. I had been riding the subway which is noisy, crowded and generally a yucky experience that is very conducive to anxiety, aggression and other none-too-pleasant feelings. On this fateful trip I looked up to see a graphic poster of AIDS and the increased risk of colon cancer. Let’s see, I get to wait in a filthy and sweaty train station for half an hour, board a subway car so crowded and suffocating that it rivaled the 3:10 to Auschwitz, listen to loud and angry announcements from Mr. Conductor “STANDCLEAR-A-THECLOSINGDOORSPLEASE!!!” While avoiding eye contact which is mandatory for NYC subway travel, I happen across a charming poster of a black and slimy, grapefruit sized tumor in someone’s emergency exit. Well, that makes everything better. Silly me, and here I thought this trip might be unpleasant.

Then there was the now famous soda ban that Bloomberg spearheaded. I don’t drink sugared beverages, and yes a 60 ounce bladder buster does seem excessive to me, but to spend time and resources on banning this option? We do have an obesity problem in this country, but it seems to me that this should fall under parental guidance. As poorly adjusted as I have turned out, I can’t remember it being because my parents didn’t allow me to inhale cookies and Hostess fruit pies by the case. They carefully explained that too much sugar and fat wasn’t good for me, didn’t keep these things in the house, and I promptly ignored them until I was old enough to know better, and by then I had discovered drinking and drug use to fall back on.

Life in NYC is stressful enough without an overbearing, billionaire nanny/mayor bombarding us with disturbing imagery. Every New York Yankee game last year on TV included graphic commercials of amputees who lost fingers, legs and feet as a result of smoking or diabetes. If this is Mayor Doucheberg’s response to unhealthy choices, then I say the next time he is indulging in the $200 porterhouse at Chez Rich Bastard a TV monitor with looped footage of undigested red meat being surgically removed from someone’s bowels should be placed directly in front of his table. Oh, what’s the matter Mr. Mayor? This is gross and unpleasant to look at? Well, we’re just trying to encourage you to make healthier choices because we care. Hmmm? Oh you’re an adult and already know this, and you just want to enjoy something tasty and these images disturb you? Yeah, kinda funny how that works.

Oxy . . . Moron

Oxy . . . Moron

Cell Phone Etiquette is an oxymoron, much like “Plastic Glass”, “Military Intelligence” or “Compassionate Conservative”. Most behavior having to do with cell phones has an appalling lack of etiquette. In fact, by design cell phones and their use is often downright rude. Poor cell phone behavior is among my favorite gripes…it’s right up there with Reality TV and perhaps a step below my all time favorite vitriolic target; the NYC Subway system and it’s governing body the MTA. Interestingly enough it was a recent ride on the subway that inspired me for this piece.

EPR (Excessive Public Repetition)
I was riding the train seated next to a young man was committing this gross and willful cell phone crime. We’ve all been within earshot of these people. This is when a person on their cell says variations of the same statement over and over again, until it takes every fiber of your being to keep from ripping the cell phone from their hand and screaming the information that everyone within ear shot has tired of, yet for some reason the person on the other end of that call hasn’t quite digested yet.

“Yeah, I called her and axed her to come.”
“No, I called her.”
“….and axed her to come..”
“Huh?”
“No, I axed her.”
“She said no, but I axed her.”
“Yeah, axed her to come…”
“No, no, no…I called her, huh? No I called her…”
“I called her.”
“I called her and…..”
“RIGHT, I called her and axed her to come.”
“What??”
“No… I axed her to come…yeah, when I called her.”

Annoyed yet? Yes, I was too, but he wasn’t finished.

“I axed her when I called…”
“No, when I called…yeah, I axed her then.”
“Well, I did axe her”

After 20 more minutes of this I found myself wishing that someone would axe him… in his forehead or kneecap. Judging by this man’s behavior, he would have just kept talking, and repeating himself.

“I just got axed…in the forehead.”
“No, some dude on the subway…axed me.”
“Yeah…in the forehead…No he axed me…”
“No…in the forehead…with an axe..”
“Listen, I’m-a have to call you back, we goin’ underground.”
The train descends into a tunnel to thunderous applause from the other passengers in the Rain Man’s subway car.

"Oh, enough about me. Let's talk about you. What do you think of me?"

“Oh, enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”

Me-Monkeys
The second variety of cell phone criminals are the “Me-Monkeys.” We’re all familiar with this type too. The banality of their conversation supersedes everyone and everything else. They either flat out refuse to put their cell phone down long enough to interact like a human being and especially with a human being. I usually encounter Me-Monkeys while waiting in line for things.

It’s interesting that I chose to use an exchange at Starbucks as an example, as I kind of loathe Starbucks and the many nuances involved with them (Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks, their manipulation of the simple sizes of small medium and large, but that’s fodder for another rant. Starby’s is good as it seems to be a homing beacon and natural habitat for the Lesser North American Me-Monkey…come to think of it, it’s kind of their mating ground as well.)

Nice Starbucks Employee: “Hello, what can I get for you today?”
Me-Monkey: “So, I told Dylan that I might be late picking him up from his play date this afternoon….”
Nice Starbucks Employee: “Miss…?”
Me-Monkey: “I have an appointment for a manicure at 3….”
Customer Behind Me-Monkey: (Clears throat loudly)
Nice Starbucks Employee: “Miss?”
Me-Monkey: “….No, just a manicure, I don’t have time for a pedicure…”
In the same sentence she barks at the nice barista “Grande-latte.”, turns her back on the peon in the green apron and resumes without skipping a beat. “Sorry, I’m at Starbucks…Yeah I know, but I’m stressed and it always calms me down…”
Notice, she didn’t apologize to the nice lady taking her coffee order.

We all know how this proceeds. She is blabbing away about the world’s least significant minutia until her latte is made. She will continue to ramble on, slipping in a “How Much?” mid-sentence, because looking at the total lit up on the register or the price on the wall, or even (gasp) having a $5 bill at the ready would cut into her precious cellphone time. She prattles on in the cab ride to the nail salon, never deigning to interact with the driver, she spews on and on throughout her manicure, and in all likelihood the cell phone doesn’t leave the side of her pretty little head after picking up her son from his play date. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was on the phone while Dylan was being conceived…and delivered.

mobilephone_mocking

It’s a pity that those who provide services to the Me-Monkeys have to adhere to strict rules of etiquette and service decorum or there are consequences…while the Me-Monkey gets served, placated and even thanked. I say if someone is droning on when it’s their turn to be waited on, then they should be skipped and the person in line behind them should be waited on first. The service provider’s only comfort is perhaps a conspiratorial eye roll from the customer behind the Me-Monkey. I always try to make eye contact and share an eye roll. I’m considerate and thoughtful like that. As manners fall more and more by the wayside it has frankly amazed me that it hasn’t become socially acceptable to give the Me-Monkey a taste of their own medicine.

Me-Monkey ( Finally ready to order ): ” I’ll have the half caff latte and…”
Starbucks Employee’s phone begins to ring.
For the sake of irony her ring tone is “She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer.
She raises a finger to the Me-Monkey and turns her back on them.
“Hey…oh nothing I’m at work… the usual rude and clueless idiots…yeah it sucks….”

I’ll get to the dreaded finger raise later.

TMI

TMI & TDL (Too Much Information & Too Damn Loud)
As a writer, I try to study and examine human behavior, human nature, the human condition, nuance, reactions etc…but I assure you, I do this strictly for purposes of ridicule. For example, I have often felt there is a very real market for a computer that responds to being hit or cursed at. Wouldn’t that be great? A nice solid overhand right to your computer screen and a low growl of “Stupid Fucking Thing!!” instead of restarting when things freeze up? Similarly, I think for the benefit of the general public, cell phones should automatically shut off when a person is speaking to loudly into them.

“PUT YOUR BROTHER ON THE PHONE!!!”
“I SAID PUT YOUR BROTHER ON THE PHONE, NOW!!!!”
“Hello? HELLO?…Dammit…”
Redialing angrily…
“PUT YOUR…Put your brother on the phone please.”

Nobody likes things inflicted upon them…ugly sights, smells and especially sounds. I’m a big fan of “You wanna step outside?” preceding a bar room brawl, it’s a courtesy to those around you and shows real courage. When you ask someone to step outside, what you’re really saying is; “Oh I’m going to stomp the ever-loving shit out of you…but there is no reason to spill an innocent bystander’s beer or break the furniture in this establishment…besides, if we step outside, there is much less a chance of your beating being broken up prematurely by bouncers or good Samaritans.” It’s a simple courtesy and it shows good manners and a basic concern for those around you…except for that person you’re dying to hit the second they step outside, of course.

Shout

Sure, sometimes we are angry and we need a little volume to get our point across, just remember you aren’t at home. You’re in public and that space belongs to all of us (Except for us smokers who have become social pariahs and criminals.) Which leads me to an interesting point. If a person lights up a cigarette pretty much anywhere these days everyone will fall all over themselves to tell them to extinguish it immediately. Yet, if a person is in public talking on their cell in an inappropriately loud voice, or even screaming…it becomes an awkward social situation. Sure, maybe people turn and scowl at the offending party, and if it goes on too long or gets too loud, the staff or management might have a discreet word. Those whose cellphone conversation volume rivals that of having the seats in front of the speakers at a Metalica concert really need to be spoken to about propriety. Propriety is something that has simply flown out the window in regards to cellphone use.

That brings us to the TMI portion. While speaking to my best friend earlier this evening I mentioned this and she told me she has overheard STD diagnosis’ via cellphones. Really? Jesus, I’d have trouble talking to my doctor about this in his office, never mind everyone at Arby’s or on the A Train. Sadly, I have never overheard “Herpes”, “Chlamydia” or “Burning Sensation” in a cell phone convo. I’d probably wink at them. On a side note “Chlamydia” has always sounded like a name for a perfume or cologne. I can just see the commercial. Giselle Bundchen sniffing Tom Brady’s bare chest on a Costa Rican beach at sunset…saxophone music plays in the background. She looks up at Tom and asks “Chlamydia?” Tom winks and nods. The ad closes with a deep voiced announcer…”Chlamydia from the Calvin Klein Intimate Collection”

too-much-information

Just because I haven’t overheard STD references..actually let me pause there, I keep using the word “Overheard”. Yet in the case of TMI/TDL cellphone convos, perhaps it is inaccurate…I’ll have to come up with a brand new term for these specific circumstances…a cell-infliction, or an ear-shove, ear-cram. cell-slam. I have come across break ups, drug deals, infidelity, and more. A little discretion, huh people? As much as it can amuse bastards like me, does the 8 year old at the next table in the restaurant really need to listen to; “Well, why don’t you just move in with that fat-ass bitch and let her suck your tiny, funky smelling dick?” It’s nice that we have a means of communication while we’re out and about…it doesn’t mean every little thing needs to be communicated immediately and publicly. Take 30 seconds, walk outside and around a corner to discuss your genital warts or tell your dad about your impending sexual reassignment surgery.

yip yips

Ring Tone Douchebaggery
Yes it’s nice to personalize things. My best friend personalized her ring tone when I call to the Yip Yip Martians from Sesame Street and their encounter with a telephone. The Martians would routinely encounter inanimate objects and assume that they were unfriendly citizens of Earth. In one vignette they encountered a telephone and tried to open a dialogue with it. The phone remained silent for a bit and the Martians seemed to be discouraged and slighted when suddenly the phone rings. Initially the Martians were afraid and pulled their mouths over their heads in an attempt to hide, something that has always just killed me. After a couple rings the Martians get over their initial fright and start talking back to the ringing phone. “Br-r-r-r-r-r-r–r-r-r-r–ING. Phooooone…Phoooone Br-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rING” That “Br-r-r-r-r-r-r-rING” is her ringtone for me, and she delights when I call while she is having lunch with co-workers.

So, I get it. Ring tones are cute and all, but like in so many areas in life, people take things too far. For months I was bombarded on a daily basis by the least talented man in music Jay Z and his annoying “Empire State of Mind” chorus as everyone and their mother used it as their ring tone. I literally couldn’t go 30 seconds without hearing an outburst of “In Newwwwww Yoooooork..” If you hate a song to begin with, having it become a popular ring tone turns into a special kind of hell that should be reserved for the Hitlers and Jeffrey Dahmers of the world.

There also seems to be a direct correlation between how annoying a ring tone is and how long it takes the person to answer their phones. I fly into unbelievable rages when people do this. “Hey, P. Diddy, answer the phone huh? The rest of us don’t need to hear the 16 minute extended remix of NYC’s most over played song.” Whether it’s a cellphone or a land line, there is something maddening about a phone ringing and not being answered.

Texter

Textus Obliviatus (The Oblivious Texter)
If Darwin was right, it should be interesting to see how we will evolve physically after a few generations of text messaging. I have a theory of my own based on eye witness accounts and drawings of aliens who regularly come down to Earth for some redneck speed-dating, that these were once human beings. After a few generations of rampant and excessive cell phone use they developed long thin fingers for quick texting, large eyes located on the sides of their large heads so they can walk and text and avoid colliding with others on their planet. This is sadly a skill that we homo sapiens haven’t quite adapted to…yet

I find myself frequently playing an involuntary game or Blind Man’s Bluff or Marco Polo on the sidewalks of NYC. I pay attention to where I am going as I plod along, scowling and mumbling to myself. I can’t make it one full city block without having to side step to avoid some dink texting “Where U @” or “B Rite thr” to another moron causing head-on collisions elsewhere. Once while at school a girl plowed directly into me while texting despite my attempts to step out of her way. She bashed right into me, didn’t look up, didn’t say “excuse me” and kept right on texting and walking. I stopped and stared after her with my mouth agape in disbelief for a couple minutes. It was one of those moments of such incredibly bad behavior that I was literally stunned and speechless. (and speechless has never come easily to me) I wanted to yell something after her, but I had a sneaking suspicion that she was equally oblivious in the auditory sense. I found myself wishing she had been a guy so I could physically confront her/him (Unless of course they were over 6”4 with a gang tattoo on their neck, in which case live and let live, I always say.)

These people need to be confronted as their behavior is not only annoying and rude as hell, but is also potentially dangerous. These confrontations need to be of a physical nature too, because they are far too enthralled typing “NM U?” to hear someone yell “Hey watch it!!” They require a heavy tap on their shoulder and to be spoken to like a very stupid and poorly behaved young child. “Hey…I know seeing the picture of the kitten in the Yankees hat your friend posted on Facebook is a dire emergency, but maybe you could look up every 20 minutes or so?” Then punctuate this with a smack or slapping their Nokia or Samsung life support system to the ground and stepping on it with a satisfying crunch. (Unless of course they are 6”4 with a gang tattoo on their neck)

This leads us to our final cellphone asshat

So glad we decided to meet for lunch. No, really.

So glad we decided to meet for lunch. No, really.

Love The One You’re With & Giving People The Finger
I have worked for years as a bartender, waiter and bar manager. These positions have allowed me to observe many facets of human behavior, which is priceless for an aspiring writer. One thing I have noticed is that many people seem to need to be in constant communication with everyone at every second, with the possible exception of the people who they are physically with at present. It fascinates me to see 2 or 3 sets of couples getting together for dinner or drinks. I overhear them saying things like “I haven’t seen you in ages!” and things along those lines. Yet, almost immediately after the greetings and initial pleasantries they all whip out their phones and begin checking messages, sending texts and making calls. These friends, co-workers, and family members you haven’t seen in ages..they are right there…in front of you, you made an effort to be in their company…and yet, they seem to be the last person you’re interested in communicating with.

When asked about their evening, these folks would probably talk about where they ate, what they drank, who they were with…but really these things have become incidental. What they really did on Friday night was to answer messages, send texts, check their Facebook status and their friend’s Facebook status. Wouldn’t it be hilarious for people having dinner together to be communicating on Facebook via their cells rather than actually speaking to each other? It may sound silly, but it’s really not so far fetched.

I have promised myself that the next date I go on where the woman feels a need to spend more time on her cell phone then asking me where I went to high school and if I prefer the Beatles or Stones…I will quietly rise from the table, excuse myself, take our server aside and ask to have two lobsters, two filet mignons and two creme brules prepared to go, and that my date will get the check…oh and by they way, she’d like a bottle of your finest champagne delivered to our table in 20 minutes…Then I will pick up my food and go home to enjoy it in the much more attentive company of my cats.

Finger

Finally, I want to close with giving people the finger. No, not my favorite finger, that long one in the middle. Although the finger I am writing of and it’s use have slightly similar meanings. I am speaking of the finger people put up when they are in the middle of a face to face conversation with you and their life support system starts to ring, quack or sing “New York State of Mind…” They give precedence to the person calling rather than the one who is front and center. I think the next time someone I am engaged in a conversation with answers their phone, I will respond with a finger gesture of my own.

The human race survived and even flourished without cell phones for a very long time. People got messages, no one died, guys hooked up with girls, ambulances made it on time to save the patient. Cell phones are very convenient, but so are cars, televisions and scores of other inventions, and in closing I just wanted to state emphatically…oh sorry, I need to take this call.

srsly?

srsly?

I am a lover of language, nuance and expressiveness. While there are certainly terms of this generation that I have no truck with (Oh, it’s like dat huh?” comes to mind); there is one I that I have become quite fond of: the sarcastic and facetious use of the word “Really”.

Since childhood I have referred to the dictionary as “The Big Book”. Maybe I couldn’t pronounce “Dictionary” as a child, but I also like to think that this title empowers the book somehow, like the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone. I have always enjoyed arguing and take an especially smug and obnoxious glee in being correct in a debate. “Oh yeah, ma? Well, let’s just see what The Big Book has to say, shall we?” One of my more nit-picky tactics is to rubbish someone in an argument when my definition is ranked higher numerically than the person’s I am engaged in a debate with.

“It’s right there.” says my unfortunate opponent pointing to the disputed definition.
“Yeah” I retort “It’s number two, mine is number one!”
“So?” they ask when really they should know better.
“If number two mattered more than number one Al Gore or MItt Romney would have been president.”

Now here is where my obnoxiousness differs from your garden variety pest or annoyance. For up to the next 72 hours I will shove this in their nose in the most creative manner I can find.

“Hey, um when a little kid has to go to the bathroom and they say ‘number two’, what does that mean exactly?”

For weeks after a debate with my mom I would leave copies of the Big Book everywhere, open to the page of the disputed word. My mom started hiding her highlighters.

But I digress…

According to the Big Book “Really” means:

Definition of REALLY
1
a : in reality : actually <things as they really are> <there was nothing peculiar about her doing this, really — Peter Taylor>
b : truly, unquestionably —used as an intensifier
c : very 2
2
—used to emphasize an assertion <really, you’re being ridiculous>


Examples of REALLY
1. The dog runs really fast.
2. The water is really hot.
3. She’s a really nice person

I remember this was an important word as a child. First because little kids have next to no decision making power. It’s a delicate and precarious life resting on the whims of parental units and other grownups. So we need a lot of confirmation:

“I thought we might have dinner at McDonalds tonight.”
“Really?”
“Nah, let’s try the kelp and tofu quiche recipe from that hippy cookbook you love so much.”

My mom had her tiny torments too.

“Really” was also used as filler when we were assigned essays and reports of X number of words. Remember counting and re-counting the words as a kid? 500 words seemed exceptionally unreasonable when I could just as easily say “It sucked”. So, we filled our book reports with as many “Really’s” and “Very’s” as possible and hoped that the teacher didn’t notice. Ever the rebel, I made a point of handing in essays with 498 words. (Sticking it to the man since 3rd grade.)

“Tom Sawyer was a really, really, really, good book. It takes place a very very long time ago. It’s about a boy named Tom Sawyer who is really, really ,very, very smart…”

See? I stretched 23 words to 32.

The contemporary definition and use of “Really” is among my favorite terms today. This definition hasn’t made it in “The Big Book” yet, so I had to visit a favorite website; Urban Dictionary.

REALLY

1. An exclamation used when you can’t believe that someone has said, asked or done something so stupid, or unbelievably stupid. Often said very sarcastically.

2. A brief way to question the integrity of a person or an act. Implies, “I am so unimpressed with this, and disappointed in you for doing such a thing.”

That’s perfect. This fits my repertoire of constant disappointment and disbelief in the world and most of its residents. A fair estimate would be that I say or think “Really” approximately 3000 times daily…perhaps 4000 if I am running late, doing errands or using public transportation. Since it is my S.O.P to take things too far, I am frankly amazed that I haven’t taken to staring at various offending parties with my patented annoyed face and asking aloud “Really?”

Another facet of “Really” is that it requires a specific tone and a unique facial expression. How many words can claim this honor?

My ex-girlfriend when I was naked except for socks and glasses. “Really?”

I have been going to the same Dunkin Donuts for over 10 years, with the same coffee order, from the same woman…to this day; she repeats my order back to me, getting every aspect of my coffee wrong.

Me: (Said slowly in the hopes that today will be the day where she finally gets it right)
“I’d like…a small coffee,… with a little milk….. make it dark,…. and two Splenda, please.” I cringe and brace for impact.

Dunkin Donuts employee with the lazy eye and severe coffee dyslexia:
“Large coffee, with cream and three sugars?”

Really? REALLY?

A mother of 8 at the laundromat decides that the folding table for everyone’s clean clothes is the perfect place to change her baby’s rancid and over stuffed diaper, when there is a bathroom 5 feet behind her.

Really?

At the grocery store, after all her items have been scanned, the woman who has been on her cell phone suddenly realizes they will have to be paid for and spends approximately 40 minutes digging pennies and nickels from the change purse that took her 10 minutes to find.

Really?

A public toilet seat covered in urine with its contents unflushed.

Really?

Maybe we live in a “Really?” kind of world. People post excruciating minutia on Facebook and get butthurt (another most excellent contemporary expression) when all 306 people they are “friends” with don’t comment, like or otherwise stroke them. Not me, of course, I have a strict rule of posting 40 times or less the daily antics of my cats.

“Really” comes from “Real” as does “Reality”. Reality TV may be the most popular entertainment medium in the world today. Yet, the many of the successful reality TV shows generally have lots and lots of “Really?” moments.

Honey Boo Boo.

Really?

Her disgusting family.

Really?

On The Learning Channel.

REALLY?

3 million viewers.

Really?

Clouseau

Losing weight, exercising, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, salt, or Romanian women, taking a class…these are the standard New Year’s resolutions. I avoid the gym for the first couple weeks in January. That’s about how long it takes most people’s resolve to start to subside. I’d be lying if I said I was any better. When God was handing out tenacity and self-control, I was in the Twinkie line…chain smoking and drinking a beer.

There is one thing I would like many of my fellow human beings to resolve to do in the new year, and to please, please, PLEASE in the name of everything holy, try to stick with it. I want people to strive to find a clue…to think…and to exercise and develop common sense! Intelligence and stupidity can come in many forms. Some people are just dumb. They have low IQs, their brain is a rickety old elevator powered by an elderly and underfed gerbil. I have written to my elected officials to ask if we could work out some kind of federal ID program for the double digit IQs folks out there…Nothing mean spirited or intrusive…maybe a forehead tattoo. Just so we know who were dealing with before we are ordering ice cream, choosing a window at the DMV or getting in line at Radio Shack.

I’m not talking about the intellectually stupid. Their brain power or lack thereof is not their fault. I’m talking about those of average or better intelligence who do mind bogglingly stupid things, regularly. These are college grads, with important pieces of paper and letters after their name, who still haven’t figured out the geometrical intricacies of parking their shopping cart across a grocery store aisle as opposed to to the side of it. I can’t for the life of me relate to this thought process…and I’ve tried. It made my head hurt. They don’t pull their cars into the opposite lane to avoid traffic do they? (Well, sometimes they actually do, which is sad) The reason they don’t is because there is an obvious risk involved. Maybe instead of stopping, heaving a loud sigh and glaring angrily at people who clog our shopping aisles up, we should back our cart up 10 or 20 feet, and then charge our cart at theirs going top speed and BASH. Organic range free eggs and Newman’s Diet Caesar dressing everywhere, and possibly (hopefully) the offending party gets a minor injury and has to pay for and clean up everything broken. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to silently hand these people a bill and a mop?

Today I asked my best friend what she thought might happen if I asked these people why they did such a clueless thing. We both agreed that no matter how politely I asked that it probably wouldn’t go over too well. “Excuse me miss, I’m a writer and I have been working on a piece about super markets and human behavior. I noticed you placed your cart across the aisle while you debate your tuna options. The Bumble Bee solid white is on sale, by the way, over by the register. I love that stuff. Ever put scallions in your tuna salad? No? Oh give it a try, it’s lovely. Anyhoo… getting back to your cart…my question, and I gather by the 4 or 5 other shoppers here waiting for you, theirs as well, is . . .um. . .Why?” My best friend and I agreed that there isn’t a polite enough preface to any question that points out someone’s cluelessness. We conversed a bit longer until she closed with our standard “Honey, I love you very, very much…but you exhaust me.” Awww.

I have a friend; Robert, who is not stupid. When there is something he wants or needs, he is incredibly intelligent, tenacious and resourceful. But there are far too many moments where he is maddeningly obtuse and certain things he does, repeatedly and chronically are simply unacceptable. Lateness, for example…he is regularly up to an hour or an hour and a half late…doesn’t care who he keeps waiting, how much he screws things up or what they miss out on…he is going to be late. What makes me, his other friends, family, employers etc. want to beat him about the head and face with large pieces of lumber are his explanations.

“The train was late.” or “There was traffic.” I have tried to question him in regards to these excuses slowly and methodically, so that maybe, just maybe he will see that his excuses are not only lame, but that they insult one’s intelligence.

“The train was late.”
“The train, huh?”
“Yep.”
“How long does it take you to get here using the train?”
“I dunno…maybe 30 or 40 minutes.”
“Uh huh, and you’re 90 minutes late.”
“Yeah?”
“So, you left half an hour before you were supposed to meet me?”
“Uh, I left 15 minutes before I was supposed to meet you.”
“So, you were going to be late and you knew it?”
“I guess.”
“You guess.”

I pause here and put the beer bottle I am becoming very tempted to hit him with out of my immediate reach.

“You take the train every day, right? A couple times a day even?”
“Yeah.”
“And, does it seem like the train is usually sitting in the station awaiting your arrival? Has that ever happened, or do you find that usually you have to wait, 10, 15 or 20 minutes for the train to pull into the station?”
“Uh, what do you mean?”
“I mean that sane people, people who think make allowances for the inevitable bullshit that happens with public transportation.”
“How am I supposed to know if the train is going to be late or bypass stations?”
“By living in the city for over 35 years and figuring out the painfully obvious law of averages.” I say wondering exactly how quickly I can grab the bottle and hit him with it.
“What are you so pissed off about? I’m here aren’t I?”
“Yeah…an hour and a half late.”
“So?”

Robert, a college educated man, a creative man with good taste capable of brilliant conversations about art, politics, history and current events has not been able, in his 45 years on earth to figure out that rush hour is between 7-10 am and 4-6 pm and that there will be traffic that slows things down. Would a severe beating help? I think of how dog owners when housebreaking a new pup shove their faces into their doggies flop and swat them on the bottom with a rolled up newspaper…and lo and behold…the dog makes the connection in a week or three. I guess the question is, what do I shove Robert’s face into? My watch? More importantly, what do I beat him with?

Doesn’t everyone have a Robert or two in their lives?

My inspiration for this piece has to do with my freelance catering business. I have a small business I am trying to get off the ground where I provide catering, bar staff, servers, party planning and DJs. Naturally nights like New Year’s Eve and Halloween are busy nights. Yet people feel the need to try to book with me 24-48 hours prior to the big night. People who work in the service/ hospitality business, contrary to what seems to be popular opinion; don’t sit staring at their phones and begging them to ring on Dec 29th.

Since this is business I refrain from making comments about being the sharpest crayon in the box.

I think what we need to do as a society is to develop a system for a polite indication of gross and willful derpitude. A gesture would work well here. No, not my favorite of my fingers…Something polite, remember? Maybe we could look into the eyes of the offending party and gently tap the side of our heads while smiling sympathetically and kindly.

I wonder what, if anything would work.