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Saturday, April 25, 2009


Here's a re-run from the old blog, because it's too fucking hot for new content today, and besides, you're all out sunning your hot-ass selves or jogging in the park. When you are, remember these sentiments:

It's no secret that people today are getting older, they're getting fatter and they're getting meaner. Frankly, the boom in Florida condominium and nursing home construction doesn't bother me much, and I only cared about the expanding American when I was an EMT and I had to lift them up into the back of an ambulance or up three flights of goddamn stairs. The increasing hostility, anger and meanness of society, though, does concern me as it is impossible to avoid contact with brusque bastards as an everyday member of a society that, instead of turning a cold shoulder, would sooner give you a colder elbow in the face.

Google the phrase loss of civility and you will be rewarded with approximately 787,000 hits—without quotation marks, but who’s counting. Apparently there’s some decent book by Peter Wood on the subject, along with about several hundred blog posts on the subject—but I don’t need to read any of that to know that it’s true. I experienced it tonight. And getting off your ass and experiencing anything is far better than reading about it. If you’ve ever read a romance novel and then had sex shortly thereafter you know what I mean.

My wife and I were taking a leisurely early evening stroll in Valley Green, part of Fairmount Park. There’s a very large gravel path, probably about ten feet across, which is meant for bicyclists, joggers, runners, and perambulators of both the bipedal and quadrapedal variety. On a Friday at around 6:30pm, there were hardly any other people around. The occasional bicyclist would whiz by, no doubt fantasizing about cycling for Gold in Beijing. My wife and I were there with our dog, Finley, attempting to exercise him into a state of lugubrious lethargy.

In Fairmount Park, we often let Finley off his leash, as do many other dog walkers. If you have a dog, you live with it day and night and you pretty much know if he’s a pussy or a psycho and, if your dog’s a pussy, why not let him have a little freedom? Our dog is a pussy. When Finley was a younger chap, he would not stray more than 4 or 5 feet from us, and he would constantly stop and look back to make sure we were still present and had not been abducted by beings from the heavens.

Finley is now ten. Or eleven. Or twelve. Who the hell knows really? The point is, he’s older now. After several years of not having us taken up in a spaceship while on a walk in the park, he’s gotten perhaps a bit cocky about always having us around, so he doesn’t always stop and check to see if we’re close anymore. Also, I’m convinced he’s at least partially deaf. While coming when called was never one of his specialties (no, he never had any specialties, but thanks for asking) we have to scream and shout his name and clap thunderously just to get a response from him these days. So, perhaps letting him off his leash in Fairmount Park tonight wasn’t the smartest thing we could have done, but I don’t think we did anything that would warrant me being called a “DUMB MOTHERFUCKER!”

“HEY!” the jogger screamed in a voice so booming I thought he was calling out to a friend in a neighboring state, “PUT A LEASH ON THAT FUCKING DOG, YOU FUCKING DUMB MOTHERFUCKER!”

He was around fifty years old, black shorts, white sneakers, no shirt, jiggly bitchtits. That’s how I would have described him to the 911 dispatcher if he’d decided to jump us, but he didn’t. He didn’t seem terribly interested in attacking us physically, only verbally, and, after he’d done what he did, I’d felt just as hurt as if he’d kicked the shit out of us, so I guess he might as well have.

I pegged him for an errant coward and a bully because it was really a run-by swearing. He didn’t break his striding trot as he passed us and screamed his obscenities for all the sticks and stones in the park to hear. When things like this happen, when somebody screams and curses at you in the middle of a beautiful summer night, when you see two cars collide right in front of you, when someone you thought you knew says or does something you’d previously thought them incapable of, you don’t realize it’s happening. My reaction time in these instances is sometimes slow, because my insides reel and struggle to catch up with my brain to process the incident. He was pretty far past us by the time I knew what was happening, and he was still screaming mushy profanities at us (though he was using the singular instead of the plural, in some kind of bizarre attempt at chivalrously leaving my wife out of it.) Because I never learned to keep my mouth shut in spite of several elementary school bullies’ attempts to teach me that lesson with their fists and hockey sticks, I called out lightly,

“Oh, I’m sorry. Did he attack you?” I asked, referencing my elderly dog, who dared to get within three feet of the jogger.

“FUCK YOU, YOU MOTHERFUCKING ASSHOLE….” Something something something fucking something something.

I was really shaken up for a while after this happened, almost to the point of tears, which, I’m sure would have made this prick thrilled beyond measure. See, I’m a big talker. In my recent blog about returning my Treo, I wrote that I once shouted, “Fuck you, pal” out the window of my car when another driver had screamed, “Put the phone down, pal.” While the other driver did scream, “Put the phone down, pal” and while I did shout, “Fuck you, pal,” only his window was opened. Mine was firmly shut, and my “shout” was more of a guilty reflex of normal volume. I’m a big talker. When I was working as an optician, I freaked out a lens company sales representative who had screwed up our order for the umpteenth time. I screamed and swore and threatened and, when I furiously hung up the phone, my boss was grinning from ear to ear.

“Man,” he said, “you have great phone-balls. It’s too bad you’re such a pussy in real life.”

He had me totally pegged. I’ll gladly raise hell over the phone or via email at someone I’ll never actually meet, but I’ll wait like a mute milquetoast for my Indian takeout food for thirty-five minutes, as I did tonight, and never raise so much as an obtuse eyelash while the woman in front of me recites an unsolicited monologue to the man running the cash register on how the management of the restaurant should arrange the tables for maximum occupancy. I loathe confrontation and will go to any lengths, including being used like a doormat or toilet paper by members of the general populous, to avoid an argument or a heated exchange. Part of me does this because I don’t like upsetting people, and I don’t like getting upset. Part of me does this because I’m scared of getting jacked in the mouth or stabbed in the eye. Part of me does it because it’s easier than the alternative. Fights are nasty, unpleasant, potentially dangerous and time-consuming. Joggy McNoshirt, though, didn’t think twice about ruining me and my wife’s outing in the park simply because our arthritic dog had the unmitigated temerity to invade his personal space in a public park.

What was it that gave him the right to scream at us like that? Who was he? Who were we? You sonofabitch, I thought, if you had a heart attack at the exact moment you were frothing off at us, I, as an Emergency Medical Technician would be compelled to leave my wife and my dog’s side and run over to you to try to save your life. If he had passed us and said nothing, or if he had politely asked us to leash the dog, as a courtesy to people who don’t necessarily enjoy having their balls sniffed by random canines, then I wouldn’t have thought twice about rendering aid. As it was, I might have left him there, dying in the gravel. Now is that the kind of society we want, where man turns his back on man because one bastard’s just as bad as the next? No, but people like that individual help, bit by bit, to create a nasty, mean, cruel, profane, unkind world. We’re forgetting that we’re all still setting examples for each other; parents and teachers aren’t the only models in society. It’s all of our jobs, every single one of us, to set an example for the other. We’re forgetting that. We’re forgetting how to speak to each other. I’m not saying we have to “sir” and “ma’am” everyone we meet, and start tipping our hats to ladies as we pass them on the street, that went out-of-style with arm garters, fine. Okay. But there’s got to be a happy medium, or, some day soon, nobody’s going to be happy. No more strolls in the park at dusk. No more “please.” No more “thank you.” No more “excuse me’s” or “bless you’s” or “I’m sorry’s.”

No more.

I’m sorry my dog wanted to sniff your balls, Mr. Jogger; he doesn’t know any better.

But you do.


  1. I agree with you about a loss of civility.

    But you, sir, were not being civil: you were breaking the law. See

    I love dogs. I have my own. And I am very careful to avoid letting her off the leash in mixed-use areas where she is required to be leashed. By deciding on your own to not follow the rules, you were being rude.

    And while his language certainly leaves something to be desired, you need to leash your dog.


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