Friday, November 24, 2006

People Are Stupid

At Panera's Bread this morning, I overheard the following conversation between two late teen/early 20something gals. One was long and lean and looked like a pimply Halle Berry; her friend had, let's say a somewhat more lumpy build (kinda like the mashed potatoes I had at Thanksgiving dinner) and kinda looked like Star Jones without the makeup and girdle.

Halle Berry: "I always use margerine on food."

Star Jones: "For real? Margerine? You tripping! I love butter on everything. Why you use margerine?"

Her friend bothered a polite reply. I would have just held up a mirror. The whole incident reminded me of the Bill Hicks routine in which he recalls a waitress asking him why he's reading a book (not what he's reading, mind you, but why he's reading!) The conversation then descended into a roundtable discussion on the nutritional merits of macaroni and cheese (no doubt with one party adding butter). I lost interest and pricked up my ears to catch the talk at the next table.

In the booth next to Halle Berry and Star Jones, two young teens attempted to hold a prolonged conversation without resorting to their omnipresent cell phones. The attempt lasted about as long as one of my tennis rallies, which is to say it was over before it started. At least this repartee enlightened me to some new terminology.

Teen 1: "Ohmigod, that girl at school is a total shockaholic!"

Teen 2: "Totally!"

Teen 1: "And what about Melissa?"

Teen 2: "A total shopaholic!"

Teen 1: "Ohmigod, totally!"

Then Teen 1 pulled out her cell phone and called a girlfriend, while her table pal pulled hers out to check her messages. They were certainly not conversaholics. Scenes like this make me think that cell phones are giving kids the attention span of chickens. (After their heads are cut off!)

I left and headed home to my yuppie 'hood, Rodgers Forge, land of the SUV, golden retrievers and breeders pushing baby carriages. There I espied a troop of waddling old ladies dressed in in Church clothes knocking on doors with pamphlets. Another invasion of the Jehovah's Witnesses from the nearby Kingdom Worship Center on York Road. You'd think they would have realized that most people were at work (or still away on their Thanksgiving holiday) by the dearth of cars on the strreet, but they went through te motions. Too bad they didn't have cell phones. They could text message the news about the imminent end of the world that way and reach a much bigger audience. Poor well-intentioned (albeit busy-body) fools. At least they dress nice.

Oh, almost forgot the guy who came into my library workplace this week and asked if the movies on the rack marked "Foreign" were in English. Blinking repeatedly to mask my incredulity with the appearance of contemplation, I eventually responded, "Er, no, all foreign films are, by definition, in non-English languages. That's why they're considered 'Foreign' to Americans." Some people just don't have a flair for the obvious. A while back a man who obviously couldn't read, but who was afraid to admit it, would come in to my department and bring movie after movie over to me and ask me what the film was about. He needed a lot of help because he assumed that any video with an Asian person on the cover was a martial arts film, even if it was a Martin Yan cooking video ("This movie got kung-fu innit?" "Ah, no sir, this is about curried shrimp and sesame noodle dishes." "So, no karate?" "Um, no. No karate.")

Of course the dumbest dum-dum is moi. Invited to my girlfriend's father's cousin's house for Thanksgiving Dinner, I thought I'd be Mr. Sociable and try to curry favor with my potential in-laws by bringing along presents. My Inner Eddie Haskill told me it was good form to bring something along to eat or drink when invited to break bread with one's hosts. My girlfriend said her dad liked Sapporo beer, so I bought a couple cans of that along; he thanked me, then proceeded to drink Budweisers all night. Similarly, for my girlfriend's cousin Richard - who married a Japanese woman and is interested (obviously!) in Japanese culture - I brought along a huge can of Asahi beer, which sat neglected in the fridge all night while he drank red wine. I also brought along a 12-pack sampler of microbrews for my hosts, but they left it by the trash can and proceeded to indulge in Buds and box wines. Finally, I picked up some Persimmons, a fruit I had never heard of, for my girlfriend's mother because - well, she doesn't drink and doesn't seem to like much except food. Of course when I presented them to her, she informed me that they were the tart kind she doesn't like. (Can't anyone just feign delight any more? I do. Give me something I can't stand, like fruitcake, and I'll thank you profusely, even if I know I'll chuck it in the trash the next day! Even clueless wonder George Dubya put a smile on his face as he squirmed next to Nancy Pelosi the day after the mid-term elections.) Why do I bother? DMUB, everyone's accusing me. From now on, I'll just be the ignorant freeloader. It's certainly cheaper.


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