10 March 2016

I Use Two Unpleasant Situations to Write a Blog Post in the Belief that if Life Gives You Lemon You Should Make Lemon Meringue Pie



A living breathing walking talking douchebag got on the bus and sat next to me yesterday morning. This is a commuter bus that takes fine upstanding citizens like myself from Berkeley across the bay to San Francisco.

He was a man (and I use the term loosely) of medium height, nondescript from head to toe save a bigger than average proboscis. This creature wore a suit befitting a man of business. On his lap was a briefcase that looked like it was pricey. Because he was not morbidly obese and gave off no foul odor I was indifferent when he sat beside me. But he quickly came to be — in my eyes — vermin. Particularly bad vermin. Vermin that had spoiled in the sun. Vermin that was an outcast among normal self respecting vermin. This poor excuse for a member of the human race began to talk in an above average volume into his cellphone. It was a business call.

At the time I was happily reading a book, as is my wont to do during my commute. My reverie was not merely disturbed, but shattered. Fortunately I never travel on public transportation without my iPod. The music it provides is generally used for defensive purposes. It allows me to block out gum chewers, sounds from other peoples' ear buds, foul mouthed jerks, loud conversations and idiots on cell phones. This piece of walking excrement was so loud that I had to turn Paul McCartney and Wings almost to full volume to avoid hearing his blathering. His conversation went on for the entire bus ride, unless it was more than one conversation.

Imagine the level of self importance and the shocking disregard for other human beings it requires to sit in a confined area and babble on into a cell phone. Entitled, arrogant  assholes can do it without batting an eye because wherever they go they, and whoever can benefit them, are the only people who exist. Or at least the only ones who matter. The rest of us are mere scenery.

Most of the people on my morning bus across the bay are perfectly nice people and I am happy for anyone of them to sit next to me (I get on the bus fairly early in its route so there are only a few people on board. It is proper etiquette to take a seat by the window and accept whoever plunks themselves down next to you. The seats are in twos except for the last row where there is about six). As an adult heterosexual male I always prefer an attractive young woman to sit next to me. My wife is aware of this preference and has no trouble with it. It’s not, of course, that I am going to say anything or god forbid do anything or even look at them for a second longer than is polite. It’s just nicer to have a Victoria Secret model sitting next to you then an NFL defensive lineman and I shouldn’t have to explain that.

Aside from that preference I don’t much care who I get. The exception of course is for plus sized individuals. I’m not fat shaming by saying this, it is merely a matter of comfort. A big body next to you as you're sitting against the window gives a claustrophobic feeling.

It is actually quite remarkable how well people follow unwritten rules on public transportation, particularly people who are commuting. I remember once getting on a San Francisco bus (MUNI) from downtown to work (as I do every workday) and there was one seat available. A young woman and I were coming towards it from opposite directions. She sped up to take it. I was dumbstruck. No one does that. Usually one person is closer to the seat and the other just yields or if one person is younger, spier or less pregnant, they defer. This woman was half my age and I was closer to the seat. The incident was memorable because you so rarely see someone being such an obvious lout.

People are generally pretty good about queuing properly and not fighting over seats. Mostly commuters stick to themselves and avoid annoying, engaging with or confronting one another. There is a woman who sometimes gets on my subway car on the way home who is a glaring exception. On four different occasions that I've witnessed she has got on the train barking angrily at someone for some sort of slight committed whilst boarding the train. The first time I suspected the other party might be at fault, probably because he responded to her with vulgar language. But the fact that this happens to her so often clearly suggests she's got some issues. The next two people she lit into ignored her but the most recent repeatedly told her to shut up and in such an authoritative voice that she did. Again this woman is an exception as was the sub human form who sat next to me yesterday.

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There’s a teacher where I work who makes much of the fact that he hasn’t seen a new movie in 20 years (he’s also mentioned two films that he has seen and hated that were made well within the last 20 years, so there’s that). He’s quite obviously proud of his abstention from recent films because who doesn't like to cut off their nose to spite their face?

Obviously he’s trying to make a point (besides that he’s an idiot). He wants the world to know (or at least anyone who’ll bother to listen to him) that the making of good films ceased a few decades ago. Hogwash.

While I think the ‘70s were the best decade for American films, the ‘60s the best in many foreign countries and that the ‘30s also produced an inordinate number of excellent movies, there’s been some damn good stuff released since 2000 — albeit surrounding by tons and tons of garbage. Just as some examples you have the work of the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Darren Aronofsky, Alejandaro Inarritu, Michael Haneke and Aki Kurismaki. I could go on.

I’ve encountered a few people on the internet with film blogs whose devotion to older films leads them to exclude watching recent ones. Do whatever you want. I've talked to people who wont watch older films or silents or foreign movies or musicals or westerns or ones without a strong female character or ones with excessive profanity or ones with violence or ones with supposed political agendas or ones with podiatrists. You know what kind of movies I don’t watch? Bad ones. Or at least those I think will be bad. You know what kind of movies I do watch? Good ones. Or at least those I think will be good. I’m funny that way.


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