Or, if you want to be less Elvis and more Bob Dylan, "Tangled Up in Douche."
Don't let Portland's lovey-dovey hippy-dippy protest-all-evil hug-an-artist image fool you. We have just as many assholes as any other town, maybe more once you start to realize all of the above is often an excuse for assholery. Though, tonight, on what I have dubbed "The Night of Living Assholes," I encountered pretty much your garden variety version of walking anal cavities, the kind that are easy to recognize since they've been domesticated and show up just about everywhere.
Maybe it was catching the downtown train just before it left and not paying to ride it. Or maybe it was getting a free popcorn at the movies yet smuggling in my own beverage--a personal bottle of sake, no less. One would think I must have done something to have the universe drop its shorts and show me its backdoor goods.
The first encounter was post movie. For those who want to know, I saw The Incredible Hulk, and it's actually good, though not Iron Man good. The action is fun at times, even though it's like watching two Gumbies wailing on each other in some scenes, and the King Kong moments between the creature and Liv Tyler are actually kind of touching. The problem is, the movie is often very dull, and that pretty much comes down to Bruce Banner having no personality as a character, his alter ego having even less, and the fact that he is played by Ed Norton. Though, God, how awesome would it be if he were actually Ed Norton from The Honeymooners? Then we'd have a movie! Anyway, you really realize that this is the weak link during the much publicized Tony Stark cameo. That character has personality, and if Ed Norton were half the actor he thinks Robert Downey Jr. is, he'd maybe give this franchise some life. But, alas...
Anyhoo, my evening plans were to see the last matinee of Hulk, and then sit and read The Education of Hopey Glass somewhere until it was time to go to the Stolen Sweets show at the Someday Lounge. It was in doing the middle activity that I encountered my first asshole.
I sat in the window of a coffee shop on Broadway and dialed up my iPod and sat down to read. Fifteen minutes or so into my cup of cofee, I saw a rather large bald man pass in front of me, and it appeared that he was talking loudly and boisterously, and seemingly shouting at a couple of guys several paces in front of him. He had a little man with a graying moustache in tow, but baldy didn't look like he was talking to him. He had a familiar fanatical air about him, but I assumed it was possible it was a group of guys and he was just the loud fat one.
Well, lo and behold, the pair of baldy and moustache return a little later, a sight I notice because I see the little gray mouse sticking his head in the car window of a young couple at the stoplight. This passes without incident, but the next thing I see is bald asshole talking to two young men holding hands and waiting to use the crosswalk. I can't hear anything, even with the iPod stopped, but it starts to get heated. I now realize that gray mouse is holding a Bible, and so it's pretty obvious why one of the gay boys is getting pretty excited and the exchange between him and the two allegedly Christian closet cases is getting heated. At least two stoplight cycles pass while this is going on, which I notice because each time the walk signal comes up, the boy who isn't arguing is trying to get his boyfriend to go with him.
I kept my eye on this. I thought maybe I should go out there and interject, but the boy arguing is clearly holding his own and I figure I should let him. If it looks like it's going to get physical, then I will leap off this chair and go thump some Bible. This seemed like a good idea to me, until a woman in the coffee shop with me goes out there and tells baldy to keep it down, she's trying to read. Then I felt like a real wuss. Of course, baldy's response is that he's on a public street, yada yada, but now the bubble has burst and the gay boys have moved on and the evangelists cross the street perpendicular to them and start harassing other people (I actually saw them doing so). I am pretty sure it's not very Christlike to walk up and down the street accosting people you don't know. Only Jesus has the ability to recognize your sins, should you believe in Him, and my Sunday school always taught me it was a sin to pretend you're Jesus. I guess these two bullies were absent that day.
It wasn't long after that it was time for me to move on, and as I headed to my destination, I prepared myself to encounter the wandering religious bullies. This was not my lot in life, however, I was instead to encounter another kind of bully--one with a car. Maybe he was visited on me because on the way to meeting him, I denied a panhandler money though I had money in my pocket. He was polite to me, and I politely declined, but maybe I needed to be charitable. I don't know. Either way, I was about to meet Asshole #2.
I should state up front, I don't have rose-colored glasses when it comes to my fellow pedestrians. In fact, I can't stand pedestrians who don't pay attention any more than drivers can. I am not one of those walkers. To be a clueless foot traveler in my neighborhood is to take your life into your own hands. Drivers up here apparently never learned that the line in the road by a stop sign is not just a helpful signal that you are supposed to stop, but it's where you are supposed to stop.
I frontload this information because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I stepped into the intersection, the little walking man was illuminated. That is why I was so surprised to see a car turning right onto my street directly in my path. In fact, had I not been alert, I would not have seen him in time to pause, wonder what the fuck?, and then make eye contact with him, at which point this cock starts to shake his head, point at his ears, and mouth the words, "No." Seriously. He is saying "no"!
I am not going to get into a game of chicken here, so I slow up and let him turn in front of me, and as he does, he actually slows down and stops so that he is facing me, his driver's window is where I am at. At this point, I'm thinking maybe he wants to ask a question, and I hit stop on my iPod. For some reason, people ask me for directions all the time, even though I don't know anything about giving directions, I am truly bad at it. As this is happening, too, I notice that the walk signal is now the blinking red hand. Not the solid red hand, but the blinking one, the yellow light of the pedestrian world.
That's an important distinction, because half-bald asshole has stopped to point out to me that there is a walk signal behind me that tells me when I can and cannot walk and I should pay attention to it. Ignoring the fact that the one behind me is completely useless when I am standing on the curb under it, it's the one in front of me that is important, I tell him that when I stepped into the street, I clearly had a walk signal. He tells me I need to wake up, and then starts to drive away. I guess pointing at his ears was indicating that I was listening to music and this somehow hampered my ability to see the world around me. I shout at him that he should go fuck himself, he calls me an asshole--as he's driving away, after making me get out of the way of his big metal car, the pussy!--and I shout even louder "Fuck you, you cunt!"
I've never been more sorry that the guy didn't get out of his car to start something. But that's always the way with car bullies. They have their death machines, they don't have to get out of them, and they can zoom away faster than you can chase them.
Now is when I note that both of these men were cresting past middle age and both were wearing Hawaiian shirts. Apparently this is now the universal symbol for asshole. It used to be jolly fat guys that wore Hawaiian shirts, but now they are bitter and full of rage.
[Note: Family Guy is a favorite show amongst assholes. Watch accordingly]
I also think it's interesting that as my chain of ass commenced, each successive jerkoff had more hair than the last. Because Asshole #3 had a Hawaiian shirt, a pot belly, and a full head of hair.
The third in this trilogy of sphincter was spotted at the club. He was there even before I was, and at first I thought he was that obnoxiously gregarious older guy that just talks to everybody regardless of who they are. My first encounter with him was actually quite fine. The bar has a spot where they put out plates of food people ordered, and you have to come find your meal on your own. I was sitting near that spot, finishing reading my comic. He pondered aloud whether any of them were his, and I shrugged. Don't ask me directions, I suck at it.
Things changed as soon as the music started. This dude decides to set up shop on the corner of the bar next to where I am sitting, and not only is he talking loudly, but he's completely crowding my area. Like, if I moved half and inch, I'd be touching his fanny. He's that close. It's also basically standing in the exact spot where all I can see is his back, not the stage. If this had been a capacity crowd, I would have understood, but at its height tonight, the room was barely half full. This is the guy who, even though there are only five people in a movie theatre, decides to sit right next to you. Because, you know, why spread out on this great spaceship Earth when you can?
Having the asshole right next to me, though, I can observe him exhibiting his natural behavior. He ordered a couple of drinks: a blue one for a pretty girl and one for himself. The one for himself is Patron tequila, and though the bartender brings him a glass that is 4/5 full, the pot-bellied asshole points at it and says, "That's a weak pour." The bartender, not having any of this nonsense, quickly and curtly responds, "No, that's a heavy pour." The asshole harumphs and says, "What is this? Is this the best bar in the world? Because that's a weak pour for a $9 shot of tequila. Why is it $9? It's $7 everywhere else." The bartender smirks, says, "Not Patron, sir," and walks away.
Asshole! Seriously, I needed some Hulk rage right about them. Hulk smash!
He also took my chair the moment I stood up, would respond to things the band said loudly and to no one in particular, and danced with the pretty swing dancing girls but did so badly so that they basically had to dance around him like he was an obstacle. You're old, asshole! You can't dance!
Thankfully, he left before the start of the third set of music, and so the night ended asshole-free.
Weirdly, and maybe it was just in direct opposition to the rest of the world this evening--you know, the way the good yellow banana is easy to spot in the bunch amongst the bruised and brown ones--I got chatted up by several ladies tonight. Either the sitting alone and reading books made me appear to be a puppy in need of rescue, or I was sending out my solid "gay best friend" vibe, because otherwise I have no explanation for this.
Granted, just to add fuel to the fire that I live my own fiction, I did not do anything about this female friendliness. Rather, I decided to place all of my bets on the pretty girl in the sleeveless white dress and the tight curly hair with the blue flowers in the back, because I made eye contact with her twice and she smiled once and I also caught her turning her head to the side to read the title of my book, which was upside down in her field of vision. I never actually talked to her, though I thought of many things to say. I also couldn't ask her to dance even though she was there to swing dance and didn't have a regular partner, because we all know what happened when I took swing dancing lessons.
Oh, yeah, did I mention she was one of the girls the asshole danced with? And the one he bought the blue drink for? (Conversation starter probably better left unused: "You know, in the wild, when something is colored that brightly, it's to warn you that it's dangerous. You'd better be careful.") Or that I saw her give some douche in a sideways baseball cap her number and heard him basically blow it off? Yeah, I decided to keep my options open for that girl. Maybe it was me picking up the lost puppy vibe.
CHANCE MEETING: Swing-dancing girl in white dress and blue flowers. I'm the idiot who sat and read comics. Call me.
The Education of Hopey Glass by Jaime Hernandez
rating: 4 of 5 stars
I haven't read the entirety of Love and Rockets, but from what I can tell, the Hernandez Bros. plateaued artistically somewhere in the mid-90s, and their draftsmanship and writing style hasn't progressed at all since. This makes it all the more impressive that their level of craft is so high, it still manages to astound me. (As opposed to, say, Steve Rude, whose stagnation is still pretty to look at, but not really inspiring.) I am particularly amazed by how well Jaime moves around on a page, the different angles he shows of one character from panel to panel as his or her mood or situation changes, the psychology of his framing.
It is also a testament to how interesting his characters are that they are still so compelling. I guess they've aged in real time. Ray makes mention of being in his 40s, and Maggie is looking like a woman in her late 30s. Yet, their day-to-day lives are still the fodder for great fiction. The opening strip of this book even follows Hopey over a week and a half or so, dividing each strip from one day to the next.
I actually wish I had read these stories in the original comics, because I would appreciate Jaime's construction all the more. He tells long stories that are broken into shorter strips, sometimes only one or two pages, and yet sometimes picking up mere seconds after the last one ended. Presumably these are spread over several issues, where they might appear somewhat disjointed, but put together in a book, they form a flawless narrative.
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Current Soundtrack: Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends (not bad, surprisingly, though not really much good, either); Spiritualized, Songs in A & E
Current Mood: angry
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All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich