Sunday, July 16, 2006

Just Do It (or Say It)

The two of you who read this blog (Hi, Stu! Hi, Dad!) may have realized I don't often do the whole "confessional" thing here very much, and by "very much" I mean "at all, ever." Most of what I noodle out here is political diarrhea or rants about how the Cubs suck today (which, wow. 2 grand slams in 1 inning. Another new way to suck.), or maybe a little shout to a friend or a project I'm working on. Very seldom is what I write here observational of human nature.

Which, for the two of you reading, may be a bit shocking, since I am at least a bit of a misanthrope. I guess that means I should leave the electriconic internets high-ways strewn with the smoking, charred rubble of my withering diatribes aimed at the follies, faults, and fucking stupidity of the race.

So, here goes.

My brother takes yoga and possesses a mantra, which I believe is a phrase one calls on to center oneself and allow one to meditate (or execute whatever one may be attempting to do) with the requisite serenity and calmness. Since I've always considered my energy too kinetic for yoga (not to mention my physical package almos impossible to calm down for long enough), I guess you might consider mine an anti-mantra. An odious yet absolutely necessary catch-all to apply to, well, just about everything that makes me so goddamned angry all the time. And it's this:

What the fuck is wrong with people?

To which you may add the corollary Your passive-aggressivity is evil. Be passive, be aggressive, but don't be passsive-aggressive. For fuck's sake.

But anyway, back to the societe cooperatif of my main anti-mantra. An example. Last Saturday I had an audition, to which I wore what would be described as office casual, since it was a relatively hot day and it wasn't a movement audition, so I didn't have to dress down in sweats or running shorts. I wore a pair of white Docker-type slacks and a clean blue polo. After the audition (didn't get, I don't think, thanks for asking), at which I saw a pair of seemingly contradictory signs on the wall, one of which said "It's not about YOU!!! Are you serving the playwright????" and the other of which said "Remember...nothing can keep you from being the best performer YOU can be!", I came homeward, and decided to stop at a Dominick's to pick up the two staples of the T. Shea household, soda and cat food. As I was standing in the produce section, looking at the Brach's Pick-and-Mix like the fat bastard I am, much like the fat bastard Dave Osborne in The Full Monty , I was assaulted on my left side by the cold, clammy reality of some sort of exotic salad falling off a cart, out of its tray, and on to me. Completely ruining the only clean polo I own, thereby reducing the already small amount the office- and audition-worthy garments your fat, broke motherfucker of a narrator already owns by one more.

Assessing the situation, I was pissed off about the ruination of my clothes, to be sure, but became even more pissed by the circumstances surrounding same. The produce section has those half-inch or so rubber mats on the floor near the walls, which I suppose are there to keep people from slipping when the misters go on. (Or to protect the store from a lawsuit caused by some stupid shit falling on the wet floor, saying "I didn't know it was wet.") The stupid shit operating the cart on wheels was all apologetic in that way where someone who does something stupid says they're sorry but only means it in the superficial way, since there's nothing she's going to fucking do for me apart from tell me how sorry she is, meaning "please don't yell at me in the middle of the store and get me fired." She gives me a roll of paper towels, which, whatever, you can't do anything with paper towels on a fucking armada of grease stains except keep the shit from running down your godamned arm, so I tear a few off and blot blot blot, then throw them back at her (the unused portion; I threw the used ones on the ground, but I should have thrown them on some tomatoes or Swiss chard), saying something vaguely about a bulldog not being fed, which went over her head since, yes, sadly, predictably, and absolutely xenophobically, english was not her first language.

The rubber mats, you're saying, what about those damned rubber mats? Tea, China, the price of same? Well, looking back at things, she clearly caused the shit to spill when she tried to navigate the rubber mats on the ground, thus tipping the stuff over when the terrain changed. I know if she'd had another foot of clearance or so, she could have navigted the floor without using the rubber mats. Clearance like where I was standing. So, if this woman had only bothered to say "Pardon me, sir, can you move to the side for a second? Otherwise I may, you know, spill this three bean salad with bowtie pasta on your polo so you can't wear it in decent company anymore," I would have been perfectly content to oblige her and move a foot and a half to the right. But apparently this woman felt it was easier to avoid talking to a human being she didn't know because of the possibility that I might threaten to take her head off, either literally or figuratively. She may deal with dangerous assholes every day, which, considering the fact that she works in a huge grocery store, is not completely beyond the scope of comprehension. But the fact that she chose to risk it, instead of actually attempting to communicate with me, and ended up fucking me over, fucking up the food she was handling, and earning herself a place in my Hall of FUCK!!! all at once, speaks volumes about the society of cringy, scared little sheep we've become.

In short, what the fuck is wrong with people?

It's been this way for a while. When I waited tables and seated people at a restaurant right out of college I used to marvel at how many people would wait until they saw someone ELSE get up with their dinner check, then follow THAT person to the cash register. I figured it was because the sheep-like follower was concerned that I (or whoever was sitting at the register) would reduce them to a smoking pile of lifeless ash and bone by saying "Oh, you know what, you can just pay your server." Which was silly, because there's a cash register at the door, and someone sitting there, waiting to use it. Back then, I thought, well, it's just not a society of leaders. And given the present state of the nation, who's in charge, and how marginalized our lives have become, I know it's true. Oftentimes on this blog, in the course of reviewing a bad movie or talking about how much the Cubs suck (Ron, I'm so sorry), I'll say something to the effect of "we all suck" or "God, we suck," since we the people (but not me, he said, misanthropically)put up with paying 10 dollars to go see a shitty Adam Sandler movie just because Courtney thinks he's cute or 900 dollars to go see a shitty ball club just because the ball park is so great and you can drink like a dickhead and not suffer any consequences. But this time, since it became personal, I mean it: We really, really suck. This fucking society needs to pull its head out of its reticent, please-don't-hurt-me-or-even-make-me-feel-bad-for-three-seconds ass and grow a pair of fucking testicles. If that sounds like a mixed metaphor, I don't give a fuck. Fuck you. See what that was? That was aggression. Good old aggression. And aggression is good, within boundaries, because it's honest. It lets people know where you stand or what you think, this side short of actually taking someone's head off. Then we have to involve the professionals, which sucks. Passivity is OK, too; some people aren't to the aggressive manner born, and that's fine as well, as long as it's honest. But what isn't honest and isn't OK is the meeting of the two, the passive-aggressive bullshit tendency that creeps into everything people do nowadays. Like, soccer mom, if you really think your kid is next for a boalloon at the circus, don't fucking singsong it as if what you're doing is cute, because we ALL KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING, and it isn't the least bit fucking cute. It's aggressive, and venal, and your adding the passive voice to your aggression just makes you that much more loathsome. Same goes for you, middle-management prick, you, who have been kept waiting the princely sum of thirteen whole minutes to start the morning meeting because one of your employees was stuck in traffic. Just start the fucking meeting already, and let Late Boy deal with the consequences; like, he already knows he's late, and the last goddamn thing he wants is for your smirking but not-at-all-secretly pissed off ass to say "Forget where the office was today?" and fake-laugh through your teeth.*

Time for one more? OK, lady shopper, don't block the entire fucking aisle lengthwise with your cart looking for OJ or some shit, forcing some poor schmuck to sit there and count to 20 with his chin in his hand, hoping, just hoping he won't have to embarass you by pointing out how insensitive that shit is, then forcing him to slowly fling your cart around 90 degrees with your baby in it just so he can move in the supermarket.#

You may have a good mantra. I have the anti-mantra, and it neither centers me nor comforts me. But say it I must, because it's there and it needs to be said. What the fuck is wrong with people?

*Neither of these things has actually really happened to me, at least not in the way they're described above.
#Okay, yeah, that one did happen. What the fuck is wrong with people?


At 12:48 AM, Blogger Stuart Shea said...

I think what's wrong with people is that we're imperfect. We want to be loved, needed, heroic. We don't want to make mistakes, and we fear the unknown, so of course we make mistakes, lots of them, big fat ones, and we beat ourselves and others up for them. But our faults are also the thing that makes us able to see that we're just like everyone else, products of God, the universe, or whatever.

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Stu, well put. But I don't think imperfection is a wrong, in this society, we're constantly told how imperfect we are, and we get it beaten into us which forces people into themselves. It sucks, but as I saw it put somewheres else, people need to sack up.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Stuart Shea said...

I agree. But until we stop electing leaders that promise to be our mommies and daddies ('protecting' us from those evil dark people while hypocritically making us toe some bullshit line of morality as if we were all 12 years old), it won't happen.


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