Tardy Tuesday questions, Steve Prefontaine edition

Sorry I’m late, y’all. I got sidetracked yesterday trying to make sense of Jenny McCarthy.

Anyhow, before I proceed with this week’s Question, I feel compelled to give you an update on last week’s. Since I wrote that one, I decided to do one of my occasional clipper-fests and had all of my hair buzzed off. My coiffure tends toward the bushy, and every so often I get tired of wrangling it and get it cut super-short. Having done this (and also having shaved off all my scruff) seems to have done the trick in restoring me to apparent youthfulness, as I got carded again buying wine, and a couple of days ago a patient’s parent asked me “How old are you?” and dropped eight years from my actual age when I made him guess.

Those of you who have been deeply concerned about this important issue, please put your fears to rest. My preposterous vanity lives to annoy my husband for a little while longer.

Moving on…

So I like to run. I’ve mentioned this from time to time. We are (finally) entering my favorite running season, when the air is the perfect temperature and my usual route takes me along the seaside where the roses are in bloom. The pleasure I get from running in this weather is my pay-off for forcing myself to run in the winter.

But there is this deeply irritating phenomenon that happens from time to time. Every so often I encounter a Yeller, or his close cousin the Honker. These are people who apparently think hollering something barely intelligible or honking loudly as they drive by is amusing in some way. There is great comedic potential in briefly startling someone as they exercise, it seems.

My “favorite” encounter with an individual of this ilk was last summer, when some visiting wag yelled from his balcony at a local inn “Run, Forrest, run!” at me on both the outbound and inbound legs of my run. How droll! A hackneyed movie quote so bursting with wit and whimsy that it deserves to be bellowed not once, but twice. The second time I paused and looked up with a small shrug, communicating the universal sign for “WTF?” (I would, perhaps, have chosen a different gesture, but I am enjoined from doing so in the community where we live by the more sensible Better Half.)

I can think of no explanation for these encounters other than that some people cannot help but proclaim to the world that they are complete and utter tools. That Jerk Pride is a thing, and that so central to these people’s identity is their hoser-dom that to deny them opportunities to express it is an act of cruelty. “Shine on, you crazy craphead diamonds” I think, and run on.

So that’s this week’s Question — what do you witness others doing that, in your estimation, is their way of telling people that they’re schmucks? What serves as a perverse public service announcement, letting others know they should be grateful to have limited exposure to these charming folks? What brief interactions serve to efficiently tell onlookers “I am proud of my loutishness, here on display for your fascination”?

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99 thoughts on “Tardy Tuesday questions, Steve Prefontaine edition

  1. My brother-in-law was out in Michigan visiting our relations when he decided that he needed to do some light exercise and borrowed a bike with the intention of meandering (gamboling?) for an hour or so. See some scenery, get some air, raise the heart rate… the usual. Well, he got about a half-mile or so when a gentleman trying to be helpful yelled out to him “There ain’t nothin’ that way! Town’s the other direction!”

    “I’m out exercising!”, my b-i-l cheerfully announced.

    The guy on his porch languidly threw his empty beer can in the general direction of my b-i-l as his way of saying “this conversation is over.”

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    • “Oop… I almost forgot. I won’t be able to make it fellas. Veronica and I are trying this new fad called uh, jogging. I believe it’s jogging or yogging… it might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.”

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  2. Men who demand to be called sir and will berate people for not using that honorific.

    I also have a low tolerance for generally new agey spiritual talk but I don’t know if such talk makes people schmucks. Even in the new San Francisco, you still find plenty of people who think 1967 never ended.

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  3. Several “types”
    1) Folks who can’t make a decision. Ex: while waiting in line with my friend to buy movie tickets-where you have to pick your seats, a family of four in in front of us. Dad asks the group where they should sit. OFC everyone has a different opinion and they all begin to argue. Note, 90% of the seating is still open and price spots still avail. This went on for >5 mins. Jeebus frickin Christ! These dumbasses also are found on the road, hesitant to pull into traffic without 300 yards of clear traffic.

    Lack of situational awareness. Especially drivers. Maybe you can look before you randomly move into my lane in the exact space I’m occupying. You know, like look up from the phone, text, whatever, and check your mirrors/blind spots?

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  4. Years ago I worked with a terrible, terrible woman.

    She was almost like a SNL character. She was *extremely* overweight, but that didn’t stop her from stopping at other women’s desks and telling them she noticed they were putting on weight and that it made them homely and — if they were single — that they would need to drop a few pounds if they ever wanted a man to marry them. She would then explain in detail why her overweight proportions were the kind that men really liked and so she herself was not nearly as bad off as they were.

    She’d make matter-of-fact comments about family members on pictures (“Oh Gawd, is that your son? You better hope he grows up rich, or he’ll never get laid.”) If she met a spouse at a company function, the next day in the lunch room she’d say loud enough for the person to hear, “Did you see Steve’s wife? What a cow. I guess the only reasons he married someone that ugly is that he’s no prize himself.”

    And this: She’d roll herself around the office in her chair to your cubicle if she needed to talk to you (rather than get up and walk), and then in your cubicle, when talking to you, she would occasionally uncross her legs, lift one up slightly, and let out a noxious fart. Then she’d recross her legs. She would never stop talking, and act like nothing had happened.

    Whenever anyone called her out for her behavior (which they did often), she waived it off. “Oh, I’m from New York,” she’d say. “We’re just more honest in New York than people out here. You probably just don’t know that many honest people.”

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  5. Loud whistling, especially indoors. Especially especially when the whistler attempts to make out a tune, but fails and soldiers on anyway. Especially especially especially when others look turn and glare, and are then ignored.

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    • Along these lines, something that never seemed to happen in the past but that has happened to me several times in recent months: people wearing oversized “Beats-style” headphones while singing at the top of their lungs in a store or on a train or otherwise while in a public space.

      Apparently such people think that while it would be rude to make the rest of us listen to the recording of a professional artist whose music we may or may not appreciate, the entire world should be required to listen to their rendition of that music. They’re just deliberately being dicks whilst believing that their dickishness makes them superior.

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      • It may not be the exact same thing, but I actually enjoy hearing people sing in public – they may not be technically good singers, but it’s an actual human making a joyful noise.

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      • Sometimes I’m ok with people just randomly singing in public places (though it depends on the context – e.g., are we on the street or in a train). It’s the doing it while wearing headphones that especially irks, though. It says that others should be forced to listen to your warbling while you listen to a professional.

        I rather preferred the days when folks looking to interrupt others’ lives at least had the decency to carry a boombox.

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      • dragonfrog,
        I like singing. I’m horribly offtune most of the time, so I try not to sing in places where folks will have to put up with it.

        Mark,
        Yeah, I totally agree. It’s one thing to sing at the top of your lungs (rude), but to not even listen to yourself? Besides, headphones say “don’t tap me on the shoulder, I’m not listening to you” — whereas, if I had a call, I’d tell the person singing to shut up.

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      • One of the problems with today’s head phones (“HEADPHONES TODAY!”) is that they deliver great sound AND block out much of the outside noise. I’ve been caught singing loudly along with my ear-buds (not even Beats-style) when I thought I was just mouthing the words.

        I don’t doubt that some of these people recognize full well what they’re doing and do it anyway, but I’d also venture to bet that some are more “ignorant rube” than “deliberate ass hat”.

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  6. People who talk with pride and amusement about being or having been a bully.

    People (usually men, but not always) who take pride in demeaning the women around them or in their lives simply by fact of them being female. (This will also happen with people demeaning men, but in my experience-which is all I’m going by here-there isn’t the sense of pride and self-ameliorization in it).

    Anyone who decides being a “truth-teller” is more important than being nice (this reflects Tod’s contribution).

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  7. Truck nuts. Bumper stickers, window decals, or t-shirts on various themes of demeaning other people or (weirdly) truck brands. After-market mufflers designed specifically to avoid effectively muffling engine noise. Honking the horn instead of getting out of the car to ring the doorbell.

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    • My cousin in Rome, a 60-something year old man who has lived in Rome his entire life, had a Confederate flag as his Facebook profile picture for about a year, until we finally convinced him to take it down. He saw it as a symbol of the American Civil War, with which he is mildly obsessed (apparently many Italians are), and it was very difficult to convince him that it meant something else here.

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    • I have a theory on this. I think the confederate flag has become a North American short hand among the rural, white, working class (less politely called “white trash”) as a universal fuck you against urban, bourgeois, liberals, or maybe just bourgeois types in general. In other words, it is a class signifier. My Canadian friends tell me that rural, white, working class Canadians like to fly the Confederate Flag because they know it pisses off liberal, urban types from Toronto.

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      • That’s true, Saul. A section of fans for the now-defunct Ottawa CFL team adopted the Confederate Flag as some sort of symbol of being a rebel or being tough or something or other.

        Ottawa’s getting a new team this summer; I hope that tradition will not re-appear.

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      • I am actually less annoyed when I see the flag pop up internationally. Even Canada, though I don’t give them quite the benefit of the doubt I give Scandanavians.

        One of the unfortunate things about the whole thing is that… it’s actually a pretty good looking flag. So I can understand the misguided appeal.

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      • With my cousin, the issue was more that a substantial portion of his Facebook friends were American (basically the whole extended family).

        The last time he was here in the States, we had a conversation about how Giribaldi had offered to command Lincoln’s armies (and was turned down, though he was offered a lesser position), in the hopes that he would decide that he’d rather use the symbols of the Union.

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      • Pretty straightforward, Will. They’ll be wearing Red and Black.

        (Less snarkily, it’s a way to maintain a lot of the history and iconography of the old Rough Riders team–and, to a lesser extent, the short-lived Renegades. The Rough Rider copyright is owned by a restaurateur in Chicago, so it’s a no-go, plus the team sucked for the last 20-odd years of its existence. The Renegades were a giant total clusterf**k, even resurrecting aspects of the clusterf**kiest aspects of the clusterf**k that was the final few years of the Riders. So, those are out. The logo is a take on the iconic “R” that was the Riders logo for most of its history (incorporating a saw blade to tie in to the logging history ’round here). The team uses the colours they used. And, really, there weren’t a lot of appropriate “R” team names to use. For more, see here: http://stepsfromthecanal.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/whats-in-a-name/ [/sheamlessplug])

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      • Yes, that’s true. But it’s not “just” a class thing for hicks. It also works on a political level. If you display it deep in blue state usa–nothing more enjoyable than pissing off Progressives. It’s fun to watch them spout and studder.

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      • “Sure, it’s a symbol of treason and the willingness to kill and betray in defense of the institution of slavery, and sure, it represents a deeply resist and oppressive post to many black (and white people), but it irks progressives, so I’m going to hang one outside the front door” seems pretty damn assholy to me, hick or not.

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      • Actually I consider the North’s actions to be the treasonous side, but will conceede to the racist part, in part.

        I’m perfectly comfortable, however, with your description of hanging a flag as being “asshole-ey”. And yes, I’d hang one up if one of my neighbors had pissed, so yeah. I’m an ass. I’m cool with that.

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      • Drew

        I really need to review my typing sometimes. Yah, I’d hang one up to piss off my neighbor if he had pissed me off and I knew that this would annoy him. Fortunately, I’ve got some nice folks around that keep their noses out of my business and are pretty cool about stuff. So, while I’m capable of doing it, I choose not to.

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  8. When people drive slowly on a two lane highway then speed up significantly where there are passing lanes so others can’t pass. Makes me long for that under hood grenade launcher.

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  9. Dear Citizens of Earth –

    We of the Intergalactic Fellowship refuse to contact you and expose you to all the wonders and knowledge of the universe until you learn how to execute a rolling merge when there’s a giant flashing “merge” arrow telling you to.

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  10. Public drunkenness, particularly when involving belligerence, bodily fluids, and a confined space like a bus, subway car, or train carriage. Extra “points” for getting into conflicts with other groups of drunken people in said confined space. Because my day was not complete before being essentially trapped in close quarters with a threatened and then actual drunken brawl. Sometimes makes me think those prohibitionists had a point.

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  11. And did I forget to include failing to return your grocery cart back to the stall in the parking lot of the grocery store?

    AAAARGPFH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Failing to return your grocery cart back to the stall in the parking lot of the grocery store? Douche. Bag.

    Just last week at CostCo some flaming douche decided that he was too friggin special to walk three lengths of his car to put his cart in the stall and just friggin left it there and the friggin thing rolled directly into my car and MADE A FRIGGIN DING on my bumper and when I said “Hey!” this friggin douchemeister looked at me AND SHRUGGED and got into his car anyway because I guess he figured my car was a POS anyway* and drove the frig away.

    Yyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaarghf! Ooh it makes me so mad.

    * I must concede, as to this element of the story, the preponderance of the evidence was with the other guy.

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  12. People who seem to take a misguided pride in being rude or aggressive drivers, speeding, or otherwise making life hard for bicyclists and pedestrians. I’m sorry you have to spend your time in a miserable activity (driving in non-rural areas pretty much sucks), but don’t act like getting to that red light a little quicker will make your life so much better.

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  13. Cat calls and whistling at beautiful women.

    Talking loudly on your cell phone in public places — actually, cell phones in general; we live in a world where people are constantly talking to themselves. Used to mean you were crazy.

    Driving with your fog lights on all the time. Learn how to turn those puppies off.

    Not tipping or under-tipping food-service workers.

    Using political grouping terms like ‘leftist’ or ‘tea bagger.’

    Wearing too much scented product.

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    • Cars these days come with lights that look sorta like fog lights that you can’t turn off without turning the headlights on. Threw me for a loop when we got our new car.

      I personally think people should be encouraged to have lights on all the time (unless they have those new fancy lights).

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      • I know that; but that’s not a foglight. Fog lights are particularly a problem on SUVs, because they’re higher off the ground.

        Daytime running lights are a good thing.

        Intense lights that harm the vision of oncoming drivers are not cool and should not be legal. I also have grave concerns about a lot of police lights I see recently; I believe they may cause accidents because they blind drivers. I know they completely incapacitate me, and it takes my vision several minutes to recover. I suspect they trigger seizures in some people.

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      • i find the lights on all the time thing very weird, frankly. i don’t see the safety aspects in daylight (because it’s daylight), so i’m left with the impression that tons of people forget to turn off their headlights.

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    • Leftist is a perfectly legitimate term. It describes people of a social democrat disposition and who are influenced by Marx to some significant extent. It is not necessarily pejorative. Elias Isquith is a leftist. Shawn Gude is a leftist.

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  14. Referencing a previous thread, if you bring up the notion of a “Man Card” and what one has to do to stay in possession of it, I will roll my eyes so violently that they’ll pop out of my head.

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  15. The cyclist I’ve passed twice already who feels the need to get in front of me at yet another traffic light. Intersections are tough enough with nitwit drivers who have to be the 3rd car making a left through the red light without you clogging it up for the rest of us riders.

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  16. This is not a direct answer to your question, but I must express the irritation the young boys in my area are imposing on me. There are obviously more people out in what passes for the downtown areas in my rural county due to the improved weather. The young men walking, biking, skateboarding, etc. seem to have no sense at all! I’m driving along at a safe speed while they throw caution to the wind and jump out in front of moving vehicles. The ones on bikes aren’t following any sort of coherent traffic safety rules. I’d swear they’re attempting suicide, but then they shout at me for being a “bad driver”! I’d chalk it up to people acting immaturely but I can’t stomach the injustice. I feel compelled to tell them how ignorant they are. Must resist urge to strangle local teen boys…

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  17. If I understood the premise of the post, the request was for examples of a witty comeback to throw at people when they act like douches. I’m a pretty big fan of a quick, “Go f-ck yourself.” On the negative side of this approach I HATE it when some folks think that saying, “I’m just keeping it real,” excuses saying whatever horrible thoughts pop into their head on a regular basis.

    Since the thread also expanded to things that drive us all batty I will also share that I dislike suburban bikers with an intensity that burns like the sun. I am not prone to road rage but I find myself wanting to inflict harm on them nearly always. My part of town has been kind enough to install bike lanes all over the place. Fine, I get it. So staying in the friggin’ lane. It’s not unusual for them to be riding 2-3 bikes wide and holding up traffic. Or better yet, they just ignore the bike lane and pretend they are automobiles. They will sit at a traffic light in between two cars and then when it turns green you get to wait for them to get up to 15 mph so you can maybe try to get around them. And this is on a Wednesday morning. Don’t these people have jobs? Arrgggggh! I’m getting fired up just thinking about it.

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  18. Compelling your server to make cooing comments over wedding pictures on your cellphone (not even your own wedding).

    Asking for a AAA discount on a museum fee that’s less than $10 per person, and is run by all volunteers.

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