About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

No Offense!

Old age and menopause (not always 100% the same thing) have loosened my tongue. No longer am I choked by the harsh words that bubble into my mind when I am assaulted, affronted, annoyed or attacked. They now pop out into the sound waves. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. No longer am I nearly ready to explode with pent-up resentments. But I have had to learn to make a quick getaway. Yes, yes, I do understand that we all go out into the world with our own individual makeup of education, experience, culture and personal sensibilities. I get it that many of the strangers we encounter won't have all that much in common with us. Strangers aren't necessarily friends we simply haven't met yet. They may not speak our language, even if we all appear to be spewing English. I am fascinated by the utterances that get a person's goat. Or don't. I live in a place where people seem, increasingly, compelled to throw words around at high volume. I'm as bad as the next old bag with a surly attitude.

Early in life, I learned how to deal with "Hey, Baby" and later with "Hey, Mama". Those come less frequently now, and most often when he can see my clothes, but not my face - maybe hidden a little by sunglasses or hat. I've yet to hear "Hey, Granny", but that could come. While I do not invite or appreciate those greetings, usually I put an end to the quick exchange with "Not your baby, not your mama!" I've always felt those gents are not looking for an actual dialog and the very sound of another person's voice in reply shuts them up. I believe those comments are made for some show of bravado for the entertainment of other males and really have little to do with me. More recently, the barbs contain the word "bitch" which angers me immediately. "F*#king bitch" or "old bitch" get me going. "Old white bitch" is worse. I feel like that takes unpleasantness to a new plane. I have found that women almost always use only the word "bitch" toward one another. Shame on us.

Replying to the unexpected verbal assault is tricky business. I'm already on record with the reasons I no longer flip strangers off. Nope. Not since July, 1976. So, for me at least, sometimes I censor myself out of concern for my safety and well-being. I'm small, older, possess no martial arts skills or weapons. If I assess that we're going to restrict ourselves to verbal warfare, I'm likely in it to win it. This works well with a pack of not too scary adolescent males who are too afraid to make eye contact. Maybe I decide not to say anything because of security worries, but walk off muttering brilliant bon mots to myself. Observation: the best riposte in the world loses steam if delivered over coffee with friends rather than right in the face of some lexical antagonist. One feels kind of chickenshitly brilliant. "Wish I'd said that right in his face."

It is important to me to explain I don't go looking for trouble, at least not out in the streets among strangers. Mostly, I do not carry a chip on my shoulder. By nature and by training, I am a peacemaker, a mediator. I'd much prefer to converse with a stranger about the 8-inch dog she's walking on a string than get into a mouth fight. But I grapple with the fact that I've also allowed myself to be attacked too much in life, abused, without objection. Turning the other cheek too often can result in sore, chapped skin. Neither aggressive nor timid, I am looking for the middle ground where I can live with myself. I try to weigh whether I'm ever going to see some spouting fool again, whether I think s/he is a threat to myself or others or offensive to people who cannot defend themselves. Then I decide whether to waste my breath. Mostly, I don't. Sometimes I cannot contain myself. Occasionally, I resort to good, strong Anglo-Saxon  words of no ambiguity.

Each of us has our boundaries. I won't tolerate overt sexual epithets, or those that touch on race, gender, creed, disability and more, whether the comment is aimed at me or someone else. I have to bark back about those, unless my safety is in question. I get that men do not wish to be called "boys". I understand that certain descriptors of country-of-origin have changed across time and I try to be aware of the most acceptable, least hate-inciting versions and to use those. Having suffered a few pangs of my own when I pushed my biracial baby in her stroller, I try to walk very, very softly and carry no stick at all. Sometimes, the less said, the better.

I heard the phrase when I was a child and I thought it was hilarious. It contained no terrible individual words but conjured up, in my fertile imagination, contortions and results that I found funny. It packed a lot of sass and told the recipient just exactly what s/he could go do, short of the big guns phrase involving the word "f*#k". It is still hilarious to me and I might pay the price of - oh, say - lunch or a beer to watch an attempt made. I wouldn't attempt it myself.

School is out and there are vehicles everywhere filled with excited young people. I stopped at a red light, cars both in front of me and behind me. I read sign language well, and the gesticulations of the driver behind me indicated he wanted me to pull up a little so he could scoot around me. I guess he and the other 16-year-olds were in a hurry. I didn't intend to move. I didn't have more than 18 inches clearance. He tapped my bumper twice. I didn't care for it and hung my head out to say, "Look, Asshole." I used the appellation "Asshole" as if it were his given name as his mother christened him. He did not care for that and maneuvered his urban assault vehicle alongside mine, using bike lane and gutter/sidewalk. From a pretty sharp tilt, he began to go off on me, his face not 12 inches from my passenger's own countenance. When he stopped for breath, I unleashed it, my smarty phrase. "You go piss up a rope!" The young Turks in Asshole's SUV truly loved my repartee, but it appears Asshole took exception to it. I suspect it was his youthful inexperience that caused him to accelerate his Suburban right into the trunk of a pretty substantial palm tree located on the same sidewalk that had so recently given him a leg up.

So how about you? What gets your goat out in the world of shouted warfare?

Something that charmed me: I've driven past it for years, the Dental Implant Institute with the shaded, rolling green grounds that make me think about the place Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson went for her rest cure. Oh, the place clearly uses entirely too much water that we don't have to keep its lawns emerald, and I've never understood about the dolphin statuary here in the desert, but - hey - who am I? Maybe the owners love dolphins or come from an ocean environment or maybe there was a sale on dolphin sculpture. And I've pondered whether, should I decide to get dental implants after my free exam, they'd send their courtesy limo or their "fun van" to pick me up and deliver me safely home. So today, I'm rolling along the road. It's a little warmer than the past several days and soon we'll hit summer heat. WTF? I spun the block. New statuary at the Dental Implant Institute! Great big dental implants, brand new, judging by the condition of the paint. Custom made it would appear. Taller than I.


  1. A couple years ago I got into an argument with someone at a place I used to work. I no longer remember what is was about. I think a supervisor had just spoke sharply to him, and he decided to take it out on me. I just responded to everything he said likewise. He called me a shitbag, so I called him a shitbag right back. He told me to go screw myself, I told him to go screw himself. Man, I was so angry, I was shaking. Finally, a little tired of the whole thing, he asks, what's the matter? HE threw the insults first, and he's asking ME what's the matter? Sheesh!

  2. Blimey, cop a load of that chopper! The Greeks had statues of Eros - Vegas has cuspid!

    I'm pretty good at arguing :( Not sure why that is - but I don't go looking for strife. The worst altercation was with the lady who objected to my not speeding into a queue of traffic in front of us both and proceeded to near bump me repeatedly - until I parked up, got out and asked her to get out of her car and tell me to hurry up to my face instead of my bumper. She called me a "white whore head". My daughter misheard, asked, "why was that woman saying you had a wide forehead?". Needless to add, she didn't take me up on my offer but it was the first racial slur I have ever had and it's stuck with me. I can empathise a little how awful it must feel for people who are verbally racially abused on a daily basis.

  3. @ Kirk ~ Yes, I love that dog bite dog bites dog chain of anger and aggression. Why not just snap back at the supervisor? Oh! He could affect the man even worse than you could. "What's the matter?" Jeez, I don't know. You just went off on me for no discernible reason! Don't try to make your problems my problems.

  4. @ Rachel ~ Ah, my word-funny friend, yes - if Las Vegas had a god of love, its name would be misspelled Cuspid. Thank you for that. I may design some Valentine cards for next year.

    "White whore head". Wouldn't simply "whore" have been both sufficient and efficient? I do not like the introduction of race into it. I understand "whore" perfectly. I don't care for the prefacing adjective.

    My personal painful experiences with racism surrounded my baby of whom I was extraordinarily proud. She had very black hair and eyes, a beautiful mocha skin but with pink undertones. She was exotic and an immediate ethnic designation did not come to mind, if one needed that. (I did not. I already knew.) She was also quite a round baby, so sometimes her plump cheeks scrunched up her eyes. People stuck their heads into the stroller guessing everything from Hawaiian to Japanese to Samoan to Martian, though we posted no sign offering $1 to those who could guess it. My favorite of all time: "What is it?" Yes, I know the moron meant she didn't know whether we had a baby boy or girl and what was her ethnicity, but it STILL hurts and angers me. I finally said, "Oh, it's a human baby we tried to produce for 20 years. How'd we do?"

    Another favorite tune: my secretary and I were shopping with our babies in strollers. An old lady first looked at Chris' sweet but not gorgeous little girl and cooed at her. She peeped into my stroller and recoiled, not saying a word, but looked at me as if I must have coupled with the devil. Still hurts.

  5. Well let's see I went off on my neighbors a few weeks ago. I cannot wait for the city inspector to come by and tell me my grass is too long. I am known to use ancient Teutonic gestures at my fellow drivers quite frequently. But I don't have a goat to get.
    The WV is procac- maybe the universe trying to tell me something.

  6. @ Tag ~ Ha! Got a little crabby-ass-grass growing there in the yard, do ya, Mike? If you had a goat, it would keep the yard well-cropped. God bless ya with flipping the bird. I can't do it any more.

    Procac - maybe if more in the universe took it, we could all get along as Rodney King suggested.

  7. I'm pleased to hear that the Asshole got to drive into a palm tree. Serves him right. And he probably blamed you for that.
    That whole Dental Institute is a big Creepstitue. I don't like anything they have going on there: the limo, the van, the giant tooth statue. Blick.

  8. @ CramCake ~ Really, really Las Vegas-y, isn't it? I must say that even if I had my heart set on one or a mouthful of dental implants, the statue outside would make me jump from the limo and run away screaming.

    Wonder if Asshole tried to piss up a palm tree?

  9. It may be that the Asshole had no choice but to piss up the palm tree in a fit of rage. I hope it splashed on his shoes.
    I bet you leave the Creepstitute (just noticed my typo in earlier comment) in the van, goofy on laughing gas, with giant Chiclet veneers that you don't remember signing the consent to receive, with a large bill and auto-pay set up on your credit card that you applied for in their lobby.

  10. @ CramCake ~ Typos are not held against anyone here, right, Kirk? ;~} And, by jove, it sounds to me like you've taken the complimentary tour at the Institute. I mean, even I didn't have all those details.

    You and I think alike (I'm sorry for you, I've learned to live with it myself): I've always thought that's how pissing up anything would work out and that's why I'd never try it.

  11. Typos ar not hold againdt anone herre

  12. Ha! I've been bitten by this exact same bug. I think my increasing age is in direct proportion to my lack of tolerance of all stupidity.


    It's true.

    And the heat makes me even grumpier, if you can believe it!

  13. @ Jenny ~ I would imagine people are pretty startled to hear poison spewing out of your smiling little face! It wouldn't seem to fit. And - oh, boy howdy - it's always worse at 110-degrees.