Miss(ed) Manners

October 22, 2004

Miss(ed) Manners: Stanktastical

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 8:57 pm

It’s not a word, and to quote George W. Bush from the first presidential debate, “I know that, of course I know that.” It’s not so much a word as it is a feeling, an all encompassing body glove of the painful stench some people can emit. Like walking into the onion only section of someone’s lower intestine.

Originally I’d planned on writing this week a twelve page emo thesis on self loathing and the origins of prejudice (I had a rough week, let’s leave it at that). But last night I took a cab. I took a cab to go meet my girlfriend at a friend’s birthday party and got up close and personal with the Stanktastical.

It was one of those new cabs, too. One of those new ample leg room, hanky panky capable models. I’m a huge fan of cabs. Earlier in the night, my friend Nick and I got into a cab and ended up having a detailed conversation with the driver about politics, the vast right wing conspiracy and space ships. Apparently Newt is still running shit from the dark side of the moon.

The swirling wind of East Houston Street kept me in the dark about my impending fifteen minutes of funk long enough for us to speed away from the curb. Around then I got the full body odor treatment. I’m assuming that this guy had been eating only raw garlic for about five days, and then, some hours before starting his shift, decided it would be a good idea to grease up and wrestle some wild boars that had been rooting through four week old savannah carrion.

I felt like a hyper-allergic that had just swallowed a can of Planters Peanuts. My eyes started watering, I couldn’t breath, my throat closed up, I thought I smelled a hint of chocolate and wet dog, I opened my window and hung my head out into traffic. A beheading at the hand of an oncoming side view mirror would have been a blessing.

Personal freshness is a multi-billion dollar per year industry. Millions of dollars and man hours are spent every year in the search of a more effective and marketable deodorant. Even more money is spent on horrible advertising campaigns. I swear if I see another Degree spybreak commercial I’m going to go black trenchcoat matrix on someone’s ass. With all this money being thrown at the problem, why, dear God, why am I continually hammered by offensively smelling trogolodytes?

I’d also like to add here that this complaint is absolutely inclusive of bad breath as well. There is NO excuse for having bad breath at any time. Thanks to the wonderful invention of Listerine brand Breath Strips, you can have fresh breath at any time, in seconds.

You might say to me, “Well Dave, what about the commonly held belief that a person cannot smell their own breath, or that their own personal stank may not be stank to them, in fact it may even be enjoyable.”

In which I’d say back to you, “Well (Insert Name Here), you are a complete idiot.”

The wonderful thing about nasty smells is that they almost always pan-cultural in their respective recognizedness as being the funk nasty. What I think smells like ass, smells like ass in most parts of Europe (Insert French Joke Here), as well as most parts of the world. If you consider yourself un-stinky, please, help the rest of us who do think so by subscribing to our cultural guidelines on odor pantones.

As for not being able smell yourself I say this: If there is ever a doubt, then you probably have reason to doubt. Like if you just ate a hot dog, and can’t smell that dirty water sausage breath pelting me in the face every time you pronounce an “H” too loudly, just assume that you need a mint.

In breath cleansing and body odor elimination, assumption never makes an ass out of anyone, it actually might make you resemble one less, at least odoriferously.

In conclusion, I say to you, Mr. Stanktastical cab driver: While I’d like to thank you for sparing everyone an incredibly boring column this week with your inflammatory pit stink, I must implore you to scrub yourself down, stat. At the very least, committ a crime worthy of jail time so you can get a free delousing.

October 15, 2004

Miss(ed) Manners: Walk This Way

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 8:53 pm

I’m really very big on social experiments. Krazy glued quarters, electrocuted pacifiers, the whole deal. I’ve been known to stand on street corners and look straight up until I’ve gathered a crowd around me looking for some phantom jumper. Maybe it’s an insatiable curiousity with the workings of the human mind that made me want to commute all the way home last night without bending my knees once.

Actually, it was guilt, and as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Yesterday, Thursday, I excused myself from the office to head over to my local Citibank branch office to handle some rather painful student loan issues. As in the people who loaned me money take issue in the fact that I don’t have any to pay them back.

In making my way to the always emasculating experience I hopped on what is the closest real world metaphor for dysfunctionality, the 14th Street crosstown bus.

I say dysfunctionality because I can walk from 9th Avenue to 1st Avenue faster than the time it takes to load that double sectioned tin can of stupidity. The only reason I don’t is because I am a lazy, lazy person. Additionally, for some reason, in my mind, an avenue is equal to a mile. I’ll walk twenty blocks up one avenue, but if I have to go cross town two avenues and down one block, fuck it, I’m taking a cab.

So there I was, loading up on the corner of 9th and 14th, and it was taking a looooong time. I’d forgotten my iPod, so I was only accompanied by the sounds of what appeared to be a tuberculitic Korean War Veteran behind me and that goddamn air conditioner that always seems to be on full blast, even when it’s 30 degrees out. Then, I heard the hum of the wheelchair elevator.

For anyone who’s ever ridden a New York City bus, you’ll be very familiar with the feelings that I experienced. At first, you notice the hum, realize that it’s going to take an hour for that thing go down, load up, and then come back, re deploy and turn back into stairs. Maybe you look at your watch, you’re late, you wonder why you took the bus, you’d probably be there already if you had walked, then you feel it. At first it’s like a tiny little tugging feeling in the back of your head, like a tiny mouse in your brain with piece of sandpaper, a mental itch.

Resentment. That’s right, you just resented a handicapped person. You despicable person, you. For a brief second you’re thinking, “Why can’t they take a special bus?” or “Why my bus? Pilates starts in like fifteen minutes.”

I actually resented this handicapped person for getting on my bus, the very bus that a second ago I was questioning it’s usefulness.

And then just like that, my feelings of resentment were gone, washed over with a clean sheet of guilt. I had gone flush, I felt like my anger had been visible, like I’d been a real ass hole.

Eventually I made it to my appointment and handled what needed to be handled; blood and sperm were sold, first born naming rights given up, the usual. I went back to work and finished up the day, with the itchy mouse on my brain now bearing the flag of guilt.

Around 6pm I came up with the experiment. Whether it was an infantile way for me to deal with my guilt, or an actual experiment I wont know. However, I decided to try and make it home without bending my knees, not once.

Well, I actually decided to start once I got downstairs from my office. Working on a fourth floor walk up is pretty intense, even if you’ve got the use of your legs. From the door of my office building to the door of my apartment building, I was going to walk like a stick man.

Let me tell you, the first thing you get over are the looks. Since I didn’t have any crutches, and was just walking down the sidewalk like a siezed up metrosexual zombie, I got a lot of looks. You get over the fact that people smirk when they see you, or instantly start wondering if it’s just your legs that are broken, or if you’ve got that slack jawed, glazed look that warrants the pity reserved for the mentally handicapped. You get over that pretty quickly.

What you don’t get over, and pardon the horrible play on words, are stairs. If you can’t bend both of your knees, there’s pretty much no way you’re going to make it down into the subway. When I got to the 14th Street A,C,E station, instead of misusing the elevator, I hobbled down the stairs by bending one knee and hop scotching along.

I’m not sure if it would have been more humorous or offensive to someone watching if they knew what was going on. It was extremly difficult and more than a little cathartic for me.

The most memmorable moment of this little hike in the knee braces of someone else was while I walked down the platform at West 4th Street. Due to excessive contruction, much of the middle of the platform is covered up by painted blue ply-wood. As I wobbled back and forth through the sliver of open concrete, I crunched shoulders with a passer by and started to get a verbal reprisal.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going, motherf-”

Right around when he was about to compare me to Shaft, he must have seen me fumbling stiff-leggedly away from him. I didn’t get the look in his eyes, but I’m sure it was very similar to the one I’d had earlier on the bus.

By the time I made it home, my knees were aching. Keeping them locked almost non-stop for 45 minutes is a pretty painful task. Kind of like doing a kegel through an entire episode of Seinfeld. My conscience, however, was amazingly clear.

I’m starting to think that at some point in my childhood I fell asleep during a Lone Ranger episode and then the tape broke. I was then continually hammered with that whole walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins line. It’s always been my way of handling my differences with people, and I wholly endorse the method.

Although, perhaps you might want to take a more figurative approach to trying on someone elses shoes, I’m thinking anyone who recognizes me as the cripple from Thursday and sees me skipping along today might start to think I’m crazy. While they may be right, I most certainly have a new found respect for those who trial daily with the simplest of human locomotion, and I’m going to avoid the bus like the plague from now on.

October 8, 2004

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 8:52 pm

Miss(ed) Manners: Accessorize This

Apparently I’ve been living in a cave for the past 24 years. People are accessorizing like lepers at a prosthesis tag sale. You know what I’m talking about right? You see it every where, easter egg color ipods, thick rimmed glasses, jewelry, piercings, tattoos, whatever happened to just throwing on that pair of Z. Cavaricci’s and going out to face the world?

I’m not saying I mind the whole accessory deal, I wear a watch, a bracelet, a necklace and a ring, at all times. I’m just saying that I completely missed a couple of trends, and I do NOT understand them.
1: Livestrong Bracelets

I figure I’d start with this one simply because this whole movement is on the fast track to becoming a fucking religion and then it’ll be illegal to make fun of it.

I don’t mind these bracelets. They’re for a good cause. Saying you’re against something like cancer research is kind of like… well… saying you’re against something like cancer research. There ain’t a lot of wiggle room.

What does piss me off about these cancer cockrings is how grossly out of control the whole thing has gotten, and they’re made by Nike. I’m assuming they’re trying to drum up some corporate karma before they reopen the four year old section of the shoe lace factory. A LARGE percentage of people wearing this bracelet have absolutely no idea what it’s for, just that some Vee Jay was wearing it and it complimented his frosted tips.

It got on my last nerve when I read an article that stated both George W. Bush and John Kerry are wearing the bracelet. It’s such a noble cause that if you’re not for it, people are instantly going to start assuming that you’re against it.

I want to start an anti-terrorist hat trend that says, “I’m a fucking sheep.”
2: Shopping Bags With Your Stuff in Them

I hate this. Shopping bags are for going from point A, the store, to point B, your house. They are NOT back packs. I searched high and low for a picture of a Victoria’s secret bag, because that one is the most common offender. I see it all the time on the train. Some girl, pink Vicki’s bag in hand and I get excited.

Who doesn’t get excited at the mear proximity to racy lingerie? And then you get closer and realize she’s got a pair of shoes, a romance book and a some feminine product (the use of which I am blissfully ignorant of) in there. Not cool man, I wanted to see some panties. Please ignore the fact that I was staring into someone’s bag, and that I used the word, “panties.”

What’s the point of this other than to show off to other people where you shop? You don’t see people carrying around a Wal Mart bag with their gym socks in there do you? And don’t give me that story about not wanting to buy another bag. If you can afford the stuff to initially fill that bag, then you can afford a new bag.

But whatever you do, do not buy this bag.
3: Man Purse Louis Vuitton Bags

Dude. Why? I see this accessory with increasing regularity every day. Who told you that this bag is alright for a guy to carry? You should find that person and smack them and then make them walk around wearing a tu tu, because it’s the equivalent to the near constant social embarrassment you’ve been subjecting yourself to ever since you took their advice.

I’ve always thought that actually caring about fashion is kind of like… well… caring about fashion. It’s stupid and pointless. But wearing a bag like this is constantly making the statement that you care enough to proudly wear a pattern that’s been strictly female for decades.

I’m guessing you’re trying to say one these things:

1) I’m secure in my masculinity.
2) I’m up on fashion trends.
3) I sit down when I pee.

You stupid stupid man. It’s not the whole man’s bag vs. woman’s bag thing that bother’s me. It’ has less do with that, and more to do with the fact that you’re obviously doing it just because some idiot in GQ told you it looked good. If it actually looked good, don’t you think guys would have been carrying around LV bags ages ago?

Accessories are great things, I think they add character. Like I said before, I’m a habitual necklace wearer, I think I look like a turtle without one (long story). But wearing or carrying an accessory for all the wrong reasons is just plain stupid.

October 1, 2004

Miss(ed) Manners: I Got Hit By a Train

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 8:39 pm

That’s got to be my most favoritest title for the column, ever. While the above statement is true, I did get hit by a train a few days ago, it’s one of those wonderful admissions that elicit the best kind of reactions, stunned silence. I mean, obviously I’m okay, I wasn’t hit by the train hard, and it wasn’t moving, that much. But still, you’re not sure whether to laugh or start wondering if I’m missing a couple of legs.

Stunned silence is great, sometimes I think the world would be better off if more people were stunned silent, for more time. It’s the same situation when I tell people my older brother was run over by a bus, which is true. Usually people’s jaws just drop and they stare, and it’s gets even worse when I start laughing. It’s funny because he lived through it, he broke his pelvis, and he had tire marks on his back.

Tangent #1: Pelvis is without a doubt the funniest word in the English language. Sometimes I refer to sex as bumping pelvises (or is it pelvi?).

It’s a long story that I won’t get it into. Suffice to say, he was in Kindergarten, he dropped a zucchini and went back to get it. Neither he nor the vegetable fared well.

But back to the story at hand, I was hit by a train! I’m guessing it was partially my fault, long years of being a man surrounded by women has taught me how to take on blame like a balsa wood life boat would take on water.

It was 6:30, this past Wednesday, and I was cruising up the platform at the 14th Street station. I take the A,C,E down to West 4th and I know exactly where on the train I need to be in order to make the transfer to the next two trains most efficiently. Unfortunately, that day, the train was pulling in as I was walking and I stepped up the pace to try and make it to my spot.

Well, these two little ladies were engaged in a riveting conversation about something some bitch at a some office had done to someone and were unaware of my runaway boulder presence behind them. As the train ground to a halt, I tried to pass them on the left and little lady A, so engrossed in conversation with little lady B moved in front of me, cut me off, and bumped me into the train.

She strafed into me.

Tangent #2: For those of you unfamiliar with the term strafing, or unfamiliar with its prominent role in video games, allow me to take this time drop some computer science on you.

Strafing is a term that effectively means moving sideways while keeping your eye on something else. It’s tantamount to quickly sidestepping, usually in a circle around a radial point, like a giant crab.

It’s a technique used most in a genre of gaming called, First Person Shooters, or FPS’s (or is it FPSi?). See, back in the day, my friends and I, locked in the computer lab at high school, frenetically trying to look like we were doing work, would play these games into the wee hours of the early evening. The first generation of these games, Castle Wolfensteing and Doom, didn’t have the strafe function. You had to continually run at an opponent, head on and shoot him with your pixel gun and then turn around and try it again.

Like this:

When the ability to move sideways and circle around that annoying kid from the swim team and unload clip after clip of imaginary bullets into his slightly, but noticeably lisping face, it was a boon unto the genre.

So I got bumped. Into a train. It was one of those, “Oh shit, this isn’t supposed to happen,” type moments where your balls shoot up into your stomach for protection. It was almost completely stopped but I sort of bounced off it and stumbled and then fell to one knee. I got dropped by some paralegal pipsqueak.

The worst part about this is that she didn’t even notice. I escaped death on the bumpy yellow line by a few seconds and she kept on staring into her coworkers eyes as they boarded the train (they strafed into the subway car, those map hacking campers).

To add insult to injury, as I pulled myself up from the ground, I was greeted by a hale of giggles. Waiting for the A on the opposite side of the platform was a group of school girls, plaid skirts and every thing. What they were doing in their uniforms near the meat packing district at 6:30pm I have absolutely no idea, but to be brutalized by a four foot tall mother of three and then have little girls laugh at you amounts to more than enough reason to hit the bottle, hard.

I constantly hear people griping and complaining about how the tourists in Times Square don’t look where they’re going, that they’re constantly strafing into people, cutting them off. I think that’s a load of piping hot fiber rich horse shit. People do this every where, from stopping at the top of the stairs to pull out a cell phone to cutting you off to get a cab to swerving into me and making me get hit by a train. The only difference is that there are so many people in Times Square, the rate of occurence simply goes up, it’s just the nature of large numbers.

People walk around without regard for their surroundings all the time, and it annoys me to no end. I know I’ve been a proponent of eye contact in the past, I think it’s important to be able to see the person you’re talking to. But NOT when you’re moving around! ESPECIALLY NEAR TRAINS.

Say you were driving in a car, would you make a left turn and look to your right as you did it? No, you’d glance around to make sure you weren’t going to hit someone or get hit and then you’d put your eyes back on the road, the same thing goes for walking in the street, be aware of your surroundings.

Do NOT strafe in real life. It is a video game feature, it can be hazardous to the health of those around you.

So yes, I got hit by train, because someone wasn’t watching where they were going. I guess it could have been worse, right? I could have missed the train.

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