Recently in rudeness Category

"Hi, John!!!" chirped the message. A woman wanted to see an item I have for sale at 7pm that night. She said she would get back to me. She didn't.

"Screw this," I thought. "I want to watch hockey with my friends. I'm just going to tell her not to come. Unless she's really hot."

I googled her. She was supremely hot.

And thus did she get an extra chance she did not deserve, and of course, she neither showed nor replied to inquiring messages. I'm not sure whether I hate her or myself more, really.

going the way of movie theaters

Yesterday, I went to see the Steelers beat the despised Ravens and clinch the division. I paid hundreds of dollars to be there, and the Steelers did not disappoint. Specifically, they did not disappoint me when I finished watching the game on TV. I lasted four minutes into the second quarter before the fan assholery reached the critical mass needed for me to summon Uber.

I've seen games in every NFL city but Buffalo, not to mention countless college and high school games. And in my expert opinion, fan behavior has gotten intolerably worse. Superfan was there last night, drunkenly berating everyone in his section for not following his cheers (all the while with his back to the game action). The guy next to me had something moronic to yell about every single play, maintaining a continuous imaginary dialogue with the coaches and players hundreds of feet away. "SHOW ME SUMPIN! SHOW ME SUMPIN! FUCKIN' SHOW ME SUMPIN! SHOW ME SUMPIN, BELL!" he opined. Superfan and Sumpinman consider themselves a vital part of everyone else's game-watching experience. They are mistaken.

But at least with them, assholery is a conscious choice. For the umpteenth game in a row, the douchenozzle in front of me would leap to his feet in the middle of a play. I had an excellent view of the huddle and of the players snapping the ball and of the ball being thrown into the air, at which point I had an excellent view of a fat ass, followed by the roar of the crowd.

I'm done.

pulp nonfiction

Here and elsewhere, I've often wondered if my neighbors ever hear me. Except for lawn-mowing and maybe two instances of "Goddammit Fredo! Fuck!" a year, I have to think it's never.

I don't have motorcycles, and if I did, I certainly wouldn't remove the baffles like a douche. I don't scream at a wife. My dogs don't bark...or else. I don't have kids waging an unending war to drown one another out. I never fire up a chainsaw or leaf blower or jackhammer or, relevant to this moment, a wood chipper. I just sit in my house in silent suffering, trying to do my job through the Italian Wood Chipper Torture, wondering if my politeness makes them assume this house is empty.

backlashers

I haven't written about the anthem protests because, well, they don't much matter to me. Prior to Colin Kaepernick sitting down, all I really knew about the guy was that he sucked at his job. But hey, if he wants to use his platform to protest police shooting unarmed black men, more power to him. I'm not sure what the exit strategy is—you're going to protest until racial inequities go away?—but that's his problem to hash out, not mine. Whether or not I agree with his chosen medium, he's just exercising his rights. Peaceful protest is as American an ideal as apple pie and cops shooting unarmed black men.

I find the backlash much more concerning than the protests. People shriek about disrespect to the flag, military and war dead, projecting hyperbolic nonsense upon the protesters' clearly explained, very narrow agenda. As soon as I see one person attempt to recast the motives of another, I reflexively ally with the other.

The backlashers make me uncomfortable for several reasons.

  1. They make me defend a simpleton who kisses his own bicep.
  2. They seem to think that acts of patriotism should be compulsory, as if that's not the pathetic opposite of patriotism.
  3. They are stunningly more shrill about this wholly invented controversy than they are about cops shooting very real unarmed men.

I was chatting with a small group of men when one identified himself as a Redskins fan. I asked him what he thought of the controversy with the Redskins name. He scoffed.

"I'm part Indian," said this lily-white dude, in that unconvincing manner in which people say "I'm not racist, but" or "True story!" "And it doesn't bother me at all." He looked smug, as though he'd just won the argument in a rout. If he'd only had a mic, he would have dropped it at my feet.

skinsidiot.jpg"People need to stop being so uptight," said someone else. Everyone agreed, and I once again found myself in the wholly unfamiliar position of being the bleeding heart at the table.

I allowed that far too many people parse every utterance for offense, for the pretext for demanding an apology. I hate that crap. Those people are not only an annoying scourge; their constant wolf-crying makes people deaf to more legitimate complaints. Legitimate complaints like, say...

"We're really cool with making a race's skin color a mascot? I'm the only person who thinks that's gross?"

"IT'S AN HOMAGE! REDSKIN MEANS HONORABLE WARRIOR!" someone yelled in my ear.

"See, when you have to say one word means completely different words—words that have nothing to do with the first word's etymology—that's got a whiff of self-serving bullshit to it," I said, making friends. "Give me one other example where redskin was used to mean honorable warrior."

This being the age of Trump, they answered my question with hostile irrelevance and at least three classic logical fallacies. "Are we supposed to get rid of Indians, Chiefs, and Seminoles, too? What about the Fighting Irish? Wah, Buckeye trees might be offended too!" They laughed. This was great stuff.

"And when you mock an argument I did not make, the bullshit smell only gets stronger. None of those mascots are based on a race's skin color. My point remains that Redskin is obviously different. Obvious to me, anyway."

"It's no different!" said the Redskin fan, using volume instead of a logical premise. And then the already-surreal conversation took a dive into the Abyss of Dumbfoundedness.

"People really need to stop being so damned sensitive all the time," said Earl, a middle-aged black dude.

Yep. I thought of all of the things you just thought of. The hypocrisy, the lack of empathy, the parallels, various racial analogies. ("It's an homage, Earl! Really! It means regal philanthropists! You need to stop being so sensitive.") I drew a breath to say these things. And then my gaze met Earl's. He's both a friend and a dick, and he couldn't wait to pounce on my next utterance. I double-dog dare you, motherfucker, said his look. Yeah. Go there.

"Well, I guess I'm wrong. Making a vanquished minority's skin color our sports mascot is obviously an homage to their entire race's warrior prowess."

I texted Stephanie and quietly showed it to Earl.

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there's yer problem

I'm the administrator of a Facebook group for a dog park that I helped create. In five years, this has meant that I've given the group no thought whatsoever. Until last week, that is. I received mail that one user was reporting another's comment.

A man had worn a sidearm to the dog park, and there was a discussion about the legality of this. As is the norm in any discussion about gun laws, people were batshit crazed. Facebook was an explosion of unpleasant pathologies.

Donna, ever reasonable, said that there was no reason to bring a gun to the dog park, for which Amy called her stupid. Donna said that dogs at a dog park jump on people, and that the possibility of the gun going off concerned her. Amy declared that it's anatomically impossible for a dog to cause a gun to go off, and as evidence, she cited the dogs and many guns in her possession. Donna responded with a link to an article about dogs settings guns off. And then in her rebuttal, Amy summed up the entire gun-fetishists movement.

"Oh Donna, just stop reading."

• • •

Yes, I dearly wish I'd taken a screenshot of this glistening golden nugget before deleting the thread.

emily post

When showering at someone else's house, I always tread carefully. Many people let damp laundry incubate in the darkness of their dryer, I've found. Specifically, I found this by smearing stink all over my face with their guest towel. I’ve ended relationships for less.

I did a preemptive sniff-test at Kiki’s and Dirt’s house. Cringing as I brought the guest towel to my face, I wished for tongs. And the stench was indeed unprecedented, eye-stinging. After weighing the relative merits of body odor, I showered anyway. I found that the hand towel by the sink was funk-free. I swabbed my body with that hanky instead.

The guest bed had made showering in the morning imperative. The whole bed reeked of dogs and spoiled food, so I suspect that I did, as well. At the head of the bed was a pillow. The pillow was once white, I suppose. Perhaps at one point in history it even had a case over it, which I assume the dogs discarded in order to unfetter having sex with the pillow. I put a wad of dirty tailgating clothes under my head and willed myself to sleep.

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And I'll save you the trouble. Floral Stank Troll John already made the "you're so particular" joke.

morons and me

Last weekend I ventured to Minnesota and from there, Green Bay. It's been a rough couple of months, and dammit, I was gonna buy myself some happiness. Wisconsin and LSU, the two tailgatingest schools I've ever visited, were playing one another at Lambeau Field, and that was just the prescription for what ailed me. I bought tickets and a parking pass and told Dirt Glazowski that if he brought the brats, I’d cover everything else. I was going to have fun, if I remembered how.

On the drive to Green Bay, Dirt was in rare form. Never exactly bright, he was now energetically stupid, railing about blacks, immigrants, Hillary Clinton, and blacks again. He sprayed venom. When Colin Kaepernick was mentioned on the radio, that really set Dirt off. Turns out Kaepernick has a Muslim wife and he’s converted to Islam and pledged his loyalty to ISIS.

“Uh, I don’t know anything about anything, but I know bullshit when I smell it,” I said, reaching for my phone. It took two seconds to verify that, well, everything Dirt had declared with such confidence was utter rubbish, fabricated at the ugly fringes of the Internet. That’s when Dirt informed me that Google was biased. “They’re not going to show you the truth!”

It was at this point that I started tabulating how much money I had spent to be there. I got a little misty. Goodbye, money. I loved you very much.

Dirt’s always been a lunk, but all this vitriol was new and decidedly unpleasant. When we returned home, he and his wife, Kiki, held forth for hours about how racist and murderous Black Lives Matter is. There was one moronic assertion after the next, and it made my brain hurt. No one cares about cops’ lives. Or whites’ lives. If a Polish cop is shot, do I get to wear a Polish Lives Matter shirt? Hell no! At this point, I had long since stopped engaging. There is absolutely no point. They are uneducated. They do not read. They zealously embrace, nay, hate-fuck any convenient falsehood that validates whatever their claim was supposed to be. They are demonstrable losers who, having wrecked their lives in utterly preventable ways, are assigning blame to literally anyone else. It is repugnant.

Kiki sneered about Colin Kaepernick’s ISIS wife.

“Oh, that’s made up,” I offered. “He’s not even married. He’s dating a DJ. You can look it up.”

Kiki exploded. In keeping with furious white trash tradition, she went straight to personal attacks. And you know what? Everything she said about me was absolutely accurate. I do think my sources are any better than hers. I do think I’m smarter than her. I do think I’m better than her. The evidence abounds, really, and it has nothing to do with me.

“YOU PROBABLY WANT TO TAKE GOD OUT OF THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TOO,” she snarled, apropos of absolutely nothing. She went straight from Kaepernick to "under God" without even using the clutch.

Touché.

parade of fools

It's really hard to describe how badly I've fucked up my life. I find myself lying just so people won't think I'm a complete bummer to be around.

"How's the new house, John?" well-wishers ask. "Are you loving it?"

"Mrrrmph," I will nod, smiling weakly and flicking a tear from my cheek.

I just typed a paragraph listing my woes but deleted it. Suffice it to say that among the many things my inspector missed was about $60k of structural defects. He missed a whole lot. Except for billing me in advance. He was on top of that.

As the issues have revealed themselves, I've been trapped here, dealing with one flabbergastingly lazy, incompetent contractor after another. Every thread I pull has horrific results. For instance, unable to breath after three days here, I had the HVAC inspected. "This old electronic filter hasn't worked in years," he said. "So the house has just been recirculating the same filth." I had that repaired and had the carpets cleaned. The carpet cleaning unleashed a horrific stench that a week later was still stinging my eyes. So I hired another carpet cleaner.

One day after I dropped $1000 on the second carpet cleaning, the duct cleaners arrived. They were clearly morons, but they don't need to be neuroscientists, right?

"I busted one of your light bulbs downstairs," drooled Moron 1. "I'll clean it up."

It took me a second to realize that he was talking about a 12' fluorescent bulb. "No, wait. Don't touch it. That's filled with mercury."

Moron 1 blinked at me.

"Mercury is a poison."

He blinked at me. I thought about finding him a Mr. Yuck sticker but contented myself to opening the windows. "Don't touch it. I'll clean it up," I said.

I did some research and found that the proper way to clean up particulate mercury is wet-wiping. "Do not use a vacuum or broom," the guidance intoned. This made sense.

I returned to the scene of the breakage and found that while the morons followed my advice to leave the mess for me to clean up, they had spent the last 20 minutes walking through the pile and throughout my house.

"STOP IT!" I said uselessly.

Then, while I was on my hands and knees-wet-wiping up the deadly neurotoxin, Moron 1, whom I had contracted to improve the air quality in my house, used a broom to sweep mercury toward my face, not two feet away. I had been breathing normally. I was thrilled.

I kicked them out while I cleaned. Their manager called me to argue that it was not a consequential amount of deadly neurotoxin that his employees had tracked all over my house.

"Those bulbs contain only 3-5 grams of mercury," sneered Moron 3.

"And how much is harmful to children or dogs?" I replied.

"I don't know, but it's more than that!"

Touché.

The disaster ended, sadly predictably, with Moron 1 presenting me with a bill. I laughed and told him to have the owner contact me. Anything less than an apology and an offer to reduce the bill to costs was going to be refused. I would get neither.

He called very soon, when I was on my way to Lowe's for a new bulb and air filter. He asked what happened, and I explained. Then he cut to the chase. "The job is completed," Moron 4 said in his thick Appalachian drawl. "I wanner know why ya don't think you hafta pay yer bill."

It was soon clear that if they had burned my house down on their way out, we would be having the same conversation.

"Wow," I said. "Sir, I've never seen your balls, but they must be fucking huge. We're talking beach balls, here."

"I don't know why yer talkin' like dat t'me," he replied.

There would be no offer to pay for damages. No offer to fix the damages. No apology. No offer to reduce the bill. Just demands for payment in full, buttressed with curiously self-serving scientific claims about the harmlessness of mercury.

"Well, I'm not gonner be swore at," he snapped.

Then don't fucking call me again, because it's all I've got for yinz.


craigslidiots

I've been giving away a few items on craigslist this week, which is nothing so much as reminder of how flabbergastingly stupid and entitled people are. "Call me," half of them respond in entirety, right before I delete their demand.

Free generator, runs great, says my ad.

"Does it run?" asked no less than 30 people.

Free dresser, but you must take it today

"Can I pick it up on Saturday instead?" asked two people who didn't get a response.

Potted japanese maple. Free to the person who annoys me the least.

It went to the woman who asked merely if I would deliver it to her 30 miles away.

born this way

I was in the bar at a Cleveland Buffalo Wild Wings when it was time for my 1:1 meeting with Sal, my boss of six years. He squinted at his screen and saw where I was.

"Oh, good. You're already drinking. That'll help. I just quit."

I grabbed my glass and stabbed at it with my finger. "THIS IS ICED TEA, SAL! I FEEL EVERYTHING, SAL!"

• • •

6GROm.gifIn short order, all of his FTE folks bailed from the company. Every one of them was gone in three weeks. I attended a meeting five days ago with the panel of moronic executives who would take ownership of Sal's projects, of which my company is an integral part. They talked about the horrific tasks they would have us perform, all of them desecrations of our earlier work. No one asked if my company would be staying on. They just assumed. I smiled at their arrogant presumption and enjoyed their mindless buzzword-regurgitation far more than I ordinarily would. And then yesterday, when the last of Sal's folks were gone, I sent mail that I was terminating my company's relationship with their company.

Complete pandemonium ensued. Offers were sweetened. Character was assassinated. Threats were implied.

"I choose who I work for," I replied repeatedly. One would think that this is an unassailable argument, but these are corporate executives. I simply do not understand that their baseless assumptions about my plans are law.

It's been six years since I quit a job, six long years. I forgot how much I enjoy it. I was born for this.

listing badly

I listed my Metamuville house last week, and then I fled it. I crashed in Seattle and visited friends for two days while random sales reps from Confederated Realty Morons showed prospective buyers my digs. When I returned home, I found changes.

Some things were merely annoying. For instance, I purposefully left lights on. Who went around and turned them all off? And if you're going to open a cabinet, please close it.

Some things were appalling. Whoever dropped a deuce in my master bath, you really needed to flush twice.

And some things were psychotic. That same toilet was clogged on next use. When I plunged it, I found a handful of change in the bowl.

And people still ask me why I'm a recluse.

paying the asshole tax

When I bought the $50 tape gun from Mr. Lonely, it certainly wasn't because I want or need it. The act was the answer to a question I posed to myself: would I pay $50 to get rid of this asshole forever? Why, yes. Yes, I would. I'd have gone up to $775. Fifty bucks was a bargain.

I call this "the asshole tax," and it's the one tax I pay with relish.

I did it again yesterday, where the question was would I rather pay for the repair myself or talk to whatever Rhodes Scholar manages a Bremerton car wash?

• • •

To my horror, the day I moved into my Redmond condo was the day I discovered my next door neighbor. His sliding glass door was barricaded by books stacked floor-to-ceiling, and mounted on the glass was a sign clearly scrawled by a crazy person.

GOVERMENT! LEAF ME ALONE!!!!
The sign went on, but that's what was easily visible from the street.

Good god, I thought. What have I done? I'll never be able to resell this place.

His offenses were many and included human feces in the hallway. I did no DNA test, but I'm fairly certain it was his. He probably put it there to ward off collections agents. They hate the smell of human feces. Worse, though, he was sociable. I started parking my car a block away because if he heard me pull up, he would rush outside to share his latest insights on the world's workings. It doesn't matter what they were; all you need to know is that he mentioned the government and his guns a lot. He seemed to like me, in that way a spectacularly insane person likes anyone who's humoring him because they're afraid he'll poison their dog when they're at work.

One day, he caught me as I was sneaking in the side door. "My car has no antifreeze and [some bullshit] so I have no money and do you have $5 I can borrow?" I opened my wallet and found only a 20, which delighted him. He grabbed the $20, promised to pay me back, and jetted off to his dealer.

He then diligently avoided me for the next year. I never saw him again.

This, this is what money is for.

mr. lonely

When I was a kid, the twin pillars of my torture were Barry Manilow (Mom) and Bobby Vinton (Dad). You probably don't know Bobby Vinton, so allow me to share.

I'm very sorry.

I consider wallpaper removal the single most unpleasant job I've ever attempted. Breaking up concrete with a sledgehammer? Digging ditches? Child, please. Wallpaper removal is horrible. It's sweaty, it's physically painful, it's frustrating, and when you're done, you've probably damaged your drywall. I swore to never do it again. Enter Pete, my wallpaper-removal guy and the reason I've had "I'm Mr. Lonely" in my head all week.

Around 60 and a resident of Metamuville, Pete has extended his one-day stay to four days. Near as I can tell, this is so he can hang around me more and ask me about myself, my house, my dog, etc. while I attempt to have an online meeting. Pete doesn't let little things like headphones and my active conversation with a clearly visible person stop him. He is driving me insane.

Me, to my monitor: "So Jason, I think it's critical that we—"

Pete, pointing out window: "IS THAT CAMANO ISLAND? I WENT TO CAMANO ISLAND ONCE. I THINK IT WAS CAMANO. MAYBE IT WAS HAT ISLAND. ANYWAYS, THAT REMINDS ME OF A STORY THAT'S BOTH LONG AND POINTLESS. IT WAS 1973, AND NIXON WAS..."

At this point, I would chew my own leg off to extricate myself from his presence. He keeps inventing reasons to talk to me, to return the next day. And he bought a $50 tape gun just because he thinks I'll need one. "I'll lend you this tape gun," he said. "I live just down the street. It's no problem for me to come back."

"Oh, I'll just buy it from you," I replied. He was visibly crushed. Check and mate.

I've been crushing on a bar owner for a while now. She lives in another town, so I see her only once in a great while and progress has been irritatingly slow. In January, she asked me if I could build rebuild her web site. "What's wrong with the one you've got?" I asked. So then she showed me. It was indeed primitive WordPress crap. I sipped my drink and wondered if I was being played.

"Of course, I'd pay you," she said. Man, she's good.

"You can't afford me."

"Then I'll give you free drinks for the rest of your life," she said.

"You really can't afford that."

But the deal was struck, and I spent some 50 hours building her what she asked for. Vastly more than she asked for, actually. I crushed it. It's elegant. I so eclipsed the web site that she held up as her model, I could not wait to show it to her.

"I've got something to show you when you have a moment," I texted her.

Five weeks passed.

Did she simply not see the text? Possible. Did she see it and forget about it? Also possible but trending toward unforgivable. Did she change her mind about redoing the website? Possible and definitely unforgivable. Did she hear about all the women I went out with the last time I was in town? Eep. That would be bad.

So last week, I went into her bar to find out if this was an innocent mistake, rudeness, or the eep. My money was on rudeness. I arrived before she did, and I sat at the bar and nursed a drink. Suddenly I was enveloped in a warm back-hug. Eep: ruled out.

She immediately showed me wireframes (rough sketches) of the new website she was working on with someone else. I was flabbergasted.

I asked her if she'd gotten my text. "Text?" She ran to her phone and found it. "I'm really bad with that," she said in lieu of apologizing.

I showed her what I'd built. She spent 15 seconds looking at it—0.3 seconds for every hour I spent working on it. "The other guy will be here later tonight. You can talk about combining your efforts," she said instead of expressing any opinion or gratitude whatsoever. And then she got up and went behind the bar.

I came expecting rudeness, but not all-time Olympic record rudeness. It was a rare time in my life where I really didn't know what to say. I thought about all the rude people to whom I've explained their own rudeness. My success rate is exactly 0%. My success rate in being vilified for presuming to hold up a mirror, however, is damned near perfect.

I watched my former crush slice lemons. If she were capable of seeing herself objectively, then she wouldn't be so thoughtless. I slid $20 under my glass and walked out.

• • •

Question for the readership: have you ever gotten anywhere by explaining to rude people that they're rude? Have you actually managed to sow seeds of empathy?

my literacy program

Longtime readers may recall the sign next to my front door.

Yesterday, it failed me. It failed me in the worst way imaginable:

  1. The knock occurred during a business call.
  2. It was religious missionaries knockin'.
Despite my living at the end of the Earth, Jehovah's Witnesses used to come to my door at least twice a year. Apparently Jehovah considers me a huge "get." Since the sign went up three years ago, I hadn't heard a peep from them. Not until yesterday.

I opened the door and was instantaneously awash in their banalities. I tapped on the sign with the business end of the baseball bat in my hand. "Be sure to read the fine print."

They looked at the sign.

"Sound out the words," I coached.

Their eyes grew three sizes that day. Suddenly flustered, they apologized and scampered off.

To someone from anywhere else, Seattle drivers are a bewildering combination of slow and aggressive.

First, they'll laze in front of you and make you brake to avoid hitting them, and then they'll drive below the speed limit. If you ever want me to shred my vocal chords, I highly recommend employing this technique. Bonus points if I'm in the freeway's fast lane and you drift into my path, make me brake, and then go no faster than the person you're presumably passing.

That happened to me twice last night, and the first offender was special. He went slower than the guy he was "passing," enabling some 20 cars to pass me on the right. Trapped and going 47 in the fast lane, I employed a custom used everywhere but Seattle. I flickered my brights at the guy, the international sign for "You're slow. There's a special lane for you special people, and this ain't it." I knew he wouldn't understand. No one here uses that convention, probably because no one here grazes the speed limit anyway. In a city where nearly everyone is sucking anti-depressants right out of the bottle, few drivers have anywhere they particularly want to be.

I flickered my brights twice. They were on for a total of an eighth of a second, but that was enough to homicidally enrage the guy. How dare I! He slammed on his brakes, which is amazingly less effective when you start at glacier speeds, leaned on his horn, and then blinded me with his brights for 10 miles, now going 70 in order to, oh, who knows. Avenge himself? Because after all, he's the victim.

And then 20 minutes later, it happened again. Another putz, another offense taken.

I'd say I miss Pittsburgh, but I pretty much miss everywhere else.

cleaning our own homes

The mooching, cheating spore who has derailed Darcy's life is Muslim. Or at least he's an Arab who was raised Muslim. I don't think he's practicing anymore. Regardless, the morning of the Boston marathon bombing, Darcy and I had the following conversation.

She spoke with Grave Importance. "When Cheating Spore heard about it, his first thought was I hope they weren't Muslim."

"Wait. That was his first thought?"

My first thought had been Fuck. This is horrible. My second thought was of my friends in Boston who I knew were watching the marathon.

Noting my offense, Darcy explained. "You have to understand how rough 9/11 was on him in school. Kids were really rude," she said, actually mustering condescension.

"I'm sure, since it appears to have completely destroyed his sense of empathy."

She sighed, exasperated by my self-centeredness, and tried explaining again how Cheating Spore was the real victim of 9/11 and the Boston bombing. It was then that I realized she had become his brainless Apologist-in-Chief.

I let it go. And then I let her go from my life. I barely talk to her anymore. I can watch the intellectual self-mutilation no longer.

• • •

I've thought about that moment a lot lately. In the wake of an alarming amount of police violence toward minorities, the outrage of the nation's police is channeled at Quentin Tarantino for criticizing them. Sure, his comments overreached, but he's not exactly killin' folk. Looking at zeal with which they're attacking Tarantino, I question where that outrage has heretofore been. One would think it might be directed at, say, the fellow cops who are killing civilians.

When a straight white guy says something bigoted, I'm the first to smack him down. As a straight white guy, is that not my job? To keep my own house clean? Other communities cannot act against my own with the same morality authority I can. And I expect no less from them. I can't repudiate Islamic extremists as effectively as Muslims can. With regards to police shootings, my actions don't carry nearly the weight that would thoughtful cops.' On the flip side of the same issue, I can't really be the one to say that Michael Brown isn't the best martyr for that cause. And I can't denounce the bomb-chucking demagogues in the GOP as effectively as the Republicans can.

Perhaps the desire to bitch about other communities would abate if we all stopped bitching and picked up a broom.

the new abs of empathy

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You think you've cringed hard, but you haven't seen his hashtags yet.


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Source

the second-worst thing about terrorist attacks

Whenever terrorists strike, my initial reaction is, of course, grief. Dread quickly follows, but not dread of subsequent violence.

First come the co-opters. They make every issue about themselves. Friday night, I cynically opened Facebook and waited for the French flags to appear across people's faces. It took several hours, but soon enough, thar they blow'd. It was exactly the same folks who'd peered at us through rainbows a few months ago. I suppose they mean well, but I dreaded its inevitability. There's more than a whiff of self-aggrandizing attachment to someone else's tragedy.

Then come the jerkoffs, straining to interpret events as validation for their beliefs. It's Obama's fault. It's Bush's fault. It's immigration's fault. It's religion's fault. It's the wrong religion's fault. If everyone in France were armed, this wouldn't have happened. Every event can simultaneously validate every possible agenda. The human mind is nothing if not facile.

Next come the apologists, racing to be the first to be contrary. We must consider the conditions that led these people to such desperate acts, their Microsoft Word macro tells us. Also, this isn't real Islam.

Me, I just felt awful for the victims. I'm broken that way.

in the air tonight

I overnighted on Seattle's affluent eastside last week, dining with four friends in two days. The seeing-my-friends part was great fun. The being-on-the-eastside part was cancerously unpleasant.

I'm starting to notice a pattern with my discomfort around people. I cannot abide clusters of rich people. When in packs, they secrete some sort of obnoxious pheromone that permeates everything and everyone in their vicinity. They've aerosolized assholery. In wealthy areas, even the clerks making minimum wage are imperial, entitled assholes. I spent every second on the eastside wanting to throttle someone.

And then I went to a bar in Tacoma, a decidedly less wealthy community. I had a great time and met some really warm, interesting folks. It was just like my experiences in Spokane, Bellingham or Vancouver WA, or Pittsburgh, or pretty much anywhere but Seattle. It's more and more apparent that there's a direct correlation between a community's average income and my stabbiness there.

the week in entitlement, part iii

Puck Glazowski and I haven't seen one another in years. Defying stereotypes of hulking former hockey players, he's an incredibly sweet guy. Courteous, sensitive, and he remember things that strangers said years ago even when they're not hot women.

I don't know how he does it.

He called me the other day. He just got a job at my alma mater. "If you need anything, anything at all, just give me a ring. I'll set you up. Tickets anywhere, any game, any sport." Wow! The ticket offer is amazing in itself, but I am not accustomed to people thinking about me if I am not actively writing their name on a check. I was touched and bowled over by this offer, out of the blue, from a guy I've smoked cigars with twice in 10 years. What a kind man. What an amazing bro. I felt a warmth toward my fellow man that I do not often feel.

Two hours later, I was cold-called by a stranger. Puck's friend. He's in Seattle now, works in the tech industry, is having trouble finding work, and do I have anything?

Lack of faith in humanity: restored.

the week in entitlement, part ii

Monday I was in an online meeting when there was a knock at my door. The dogs went batshit. In order to avoid said batshit during said meetings, I had placed a sign at eye level by the door.

doorsign.JPG

It has been marvelously effective, especially with missionaires, who, now disappeared, at one time interrupted me 2-3x per year. (Apparently Jesus thinks I'm a huge "get.") I figured that FedEx needed a signature, so I waded through the barking dogs to the door. Wearing my headset and trying to keep the dogs at bay, I was greeted by an old asshat extending his hand to shake mine. No introduction, no apology, just “Here’s my hand. Touch it!” Wanting whoever-he-was to die a swift, horrible death, I did not accept the handshake, so things got awkward fast. He then explained that he’s my neighbor two doors down and he wants to fish; can he please use my beach stairs?

That’s Metamuville to me. After 13 years of ignoring me, my neighbor introduces himself by 1) ignoring my sign, 2) popping in unannounced, 3) wrecking my business meeting, and 4) getting into my personal space 5) to ask a ridiculously presumptuous favor that 6) he could make unnecessary by driving a mere mile.

"Sure, go right ahead! And while you're here...I'm planning on taking an enormous dump tomorrow at 5am. Is it okay if I use your bathroom?" I replied in my imagination later, two hours too late.

paying the dirt tax

Is it unkind of me to look forward to my friend's wife dying? Before you judge me, hear me out.

Dirt and Kiki visited last week, with an asterisk. Any plans* with Kiki require that infernal asterisk.

She is the most astonishingly self-centered person I have ever met. She starts conversations with strangers while you're in the middle of answering a question she asked. She will also call someone while you're talking. When you're on the receiving end of her calls, you will often say "Hello?" and then have to listen to her prattle to someone else for several minutes before she even acknowledges that you answered the call. I hang up when she does that. She pointedly tells me that I'm being rude.

If we go someplace together, she will propose car-pooling, then make me wait in the car as she runs errands. When I visited them in November, she did not think to leave for the airport, an hour away, until after I landed and called. (Irritated, I took a cab. Her delight was unconcealed.) While there, I said I had no interest in the Mall of America, but she insisted that I really, really, really needed to see it. Once we were there, she and her daughter vaporized into the temporary Barbie World, leaving me to drink alone in a bar, getting progressively angrier.

No matter how firm they seem, any plans with Kiki are provisional. She makes firm plans with everyone so that in any given moment, she can opt for what sounds best to her. They were here for a week. She told me they were staying here. They stayed one night, which is fine, but of course she reserved the right to spend any other night here, too. I cleared the week, then spent it alone, watching groceries spoil.

A typical Kiki moment follows.
IMG_4565.PNG
This is how I found out she was canceling the noon lunch I was just finishing preparing.

school's in 'til summer!

With each year that passes since the baby boom of 2005, September becomes a more and more joyous occasion for my friends.

"When does your shrill, insatiable food-monster go to prison?" they excitedly ask one another, panting with anticipation. (Actual quote may vary. I'm going from memory.) "Mine disappears on Monday. I. Cannot. Wait!"

I'm happy for them. God knows I empathize with wanting to get away from their kids. But September means something else entirely for me: the return of the school bus parade on Metamuville Road. 10 miles long and only two lanes wide, Metamuville Road has only occasional passing zones. Combine that with a remorseless parade of old farts who refuse to pass a school bus under any circumstances, and you have a succession of heart attacks in my car. While moss forms on my tires, I unsilently blame my parent-friends for my plight. Are their kids on that bus? No. No, they are not. It is not reasonable for me to resent my friends. But fuck them anyway. I've stopped 9 times in the last quarter-mile.

Which brings us to these public service announcements:

  • Kids! Have you heard of bloody bus stops? There once was a time when we all congregated at the end of a driveway and made the world stop only once for us instead of the aforementioned 9 times. I know you're super-special angel blossoms and all, but really, you can text your friends while standing next to them.

  • Metamuville old farts! THIS IS WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I KNOW HOW MUCH YOU LIKE THEM. IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO PASS A SCHOOL BUS UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. IF THE LIGHTS AREN'T BLINKING AND THEY'RE DRIVING 15 IN A PASSING ZONE, YOU CAN PASS THEM.
But they will not. They will continue creep single-file behind that school bus, in a passing zone, speeding up only to tell me how dangerous it is to legally pass seven cars at once.


picking your poison

"I don't know how you can put that poison into your body."

"You feed your kid too much sugar."

"You know what caused your baldness, right? Gluten. All the gluten you eat. When I cut out gluten, I sprouted hair everywhere, doubled my IQ, added 650 yards to my golf drive, and made my farts smell like jasmine."

• • •

The Diet Police. We all know them. Not coincidentally, we all hate them.

As I listened to one of these pompous twits lecture someone, I had an epiphany. Would I rather be:

  1. Someone who enjoys life and who, if I die at 70, is grieved as a fun-loving soul who died much too young, or
  2. Someone who so obnoxiously masturbates on people about the superiority of my dietary choices that if I die at 70, they will not be able to conceal their delight about the irony?
I'll take the ribeye medium-rare, please. It will pair nicely with this Cohiba.

a night in seattle

A buddy has been inviting me to join him and his friends at a bar in Seattle. They meet every week, and he was certain I would like them. After many months of his lobbying, I relented.

Seattle Greetings were exchanged ("Hi, how are you?" and no further), and I bought appetizers for the table. It wasn't the absence of a single "thanks" that bothered me so much as their taking the appetizers to another table and eating them there.

I didn't think I could be any more done with Seattle, but I stand corrected.

three for three

For the third time of my life, I'm selling something on craigslist. Like married women, this activity is on my "Why am I doing this? I swore I would never do this again!" list.

My Inbox was immediately stuffed with stupidity. And there, amidst the countless misspelled occurrences of "call me" and "will you take a broken chainsaw for it," is the sentence I have now seen all three times: "can you bring it to Portland?"

Who are these people, and what did I do so right in my life that I don't encounter them in the day to day?

upsell this

I cut it close, but I arrived at the theatre five minutes before my movie's start time. My local theatre long ago got rid of their kiosk, making interaction with humans an unwelcome cost of admission. Now they've upped their obnoxious game.

"Purchase tickets at the concession stand," read the sign in the booth.

I was greeted, of course, by a long line. One eye on my watch, I squirmed as I watched each customer get the hard sell. The long, hard sell. The staff managed to fritter away 10 of my minutes. By the time the elderly woman in front of me was paying for her comically large bucket of popcorn, I was steaming. Waste my money, waste my heart, but do not waste my time.

She took her sweet time getting out of line, so I tried to expedite things. "Medium unbuttered popcorn," I said to the employee who'd gotten everyone else's popcorn. She nodded and did nothing. Another eternity passed. Finally, the old woman left, and I put my M&Ms on the counter.

"Would you like to upgrade to a large for only 75 cents more?" chirped the employee.

It was all I could do not to lunge at her. I closed my eyes.

"Yes. In fact, make it a small. You talked me out of it."

"Uh, okay. You can combine that with—"

"No."

"—a large soft drink for—"

"No."

"only $1.25 more."

"Still no."

"And if you add your candy—"

I grabbed my candy and put it back on the shelf. "You're really good at the upsell," I observed. "Let's move this along."

"Do you have a Regal card?"

"No, and I don't want one."

"Do you want one?"

"No, I still don't. I want to see the beginning of my goddamned movie."

We stared at each other, and I realized I wasn't going to enjoy the movie. I began my 30 minute drive back home.

You know that guy at the car dealership who you have to talk to, even if you're paying cash, about financing and undercoating and warranty extensions? You know that desperate, trapped-animal feeling?

drunky brewster

I'm over drunks.

I bought a pair of club seats for this football season, the idea being that I would treat new Pittsburgh friends to a game and thereby purchase their affections forever. The reality, of course, is that half of my tickets went instead to freeloading existing friends. And precious nil went to hot 22 year olds with brown ponytails and daddy issues. It's a world gone mad.

The other half did, in fact, go to new Pittsburgh friends. Prior to yesterday, the last two went to strangers who got plowed. Not just happily buzzed, but "(Nudge nudge) Watch me fuck with these people who just want to quietly sit here in their $500 seats and watch the game. (Obnoxious fuckery) That was awesome! I am awesome! High five!" obnoxious. In other words, I have subsidized the kind of fan conduct I truly despise, and they have repaid my kindness by ruining the good time of all in their field of view. Which unfortunately included me.

"Who are you taking to the final game?" asked Lizzie, a recovering alcoholic who's one-year sober.

"You. Definitely you."

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