Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Don't Be That Guy

 Perturbed baby c/o
There are lots of varieties of That Guy.

There's the That Guy whose spatial cognitive functions is so impaired that not only does his carry-on NOT fit anywhere in the overhead area, but he also doesn't notice the line (lit. 'column-shaped mob') of angry humanity congesting behind him as he tries to find the nonexistent angle at which his packing choices will fit neatly into the bin and redeem his recklessness. There's That Guy that you go out to eat with; a friend, family member or S.O. who cannot digest properly without sending their food back/talking to the manager. They derive nutrients from meat only at just the right amount of doneness, and even half-a-shade off in either direction is rendered useless to their alien metabolism.* Or That Guy who comes over all territorial about a parking space, regardless of proximity to it, and is perfectly willing to destroy a peaceable hunting-and-gathering session at the grocery store to take on the fool who dared to park in it first.

Personal comments from a surprisingly literate hamburger
That Guys are by no means only males -- all of the above examples are just as likely to be female. Being That Guy is usually temporary; few people are actually That Guy by nature. (McDuck is one of those tragic few.) Mostly it is a convergence of several mitigating factors, like how you didn't want to go out anyway, plus your man invited his obnoxious old high school friend who is a moron pothead (not at all drawing from my personal life here), and then you are deprived of the juicy burger-gasm you've been anticipating through the awkward appetizer conversation for the last forty minutes, because what they bring you is a charcoal biscuit from Santa's Naughty Children Sack and camouflaged it inside perfectly good hamburger fixings and you suddenly find the need to lance the throbbing boil your soul has become before its suppuration destroys relationships or is mistaken for mayonnaise. (Now I really am making it up; I've never sent back a burger. Once its in my field of vision, its mine. This is an absolute law, and other burger-enjoyers had better just pray that eating mine makes me too full to pursue theirs.)

Curb your nastier thoughts, gentle 
reader, I implore you
So there are many kinds of That Guy, and they are usually as involuntary and fleeting as they are varied. What's important is to maintain a level of self-awareness or a quality of friend who will tell you when you are turning into That Guy. I myself was recently That Guy when I decided that I was hilarious, which meant that anything I would do would therefore be hilarious, and so every impulse was to be immediately obeyed as an homage to the Spirit of Humor Itself. I did not realize I had become the nexus of That Obnoxious Raucous Party At The Next Table until my sudden lunge at Sweetness to put Button's kitty hat on his head knocked an entirely full Italian Cream soda into my lap, simultaneously creating an interesting crotch-staining phenomenon and shocking me back into icy creamy realization of my That-Guy status. I apologized wryly to my awed waitress and the nearby tables as I modestly sponged at my sodden groin. Almost any (inadvertent) poor public behavior will be forgiven if you clearly and explicitly apologize for it.

"And WHAT have we learned?"
What is unforgivable is being any That Guy that has been represented in sitcoms that have a mechanized laugh track. If a stereotypical behavior has become so hackneyed that even its own writers had no confidence in people's ability to properly emote to it, you should not do it. Do not deliver a moral to the string of events you and your friends have just struggled through in a condescending after-school-special tone. Don't even contemplate pinching a younger relative's cheek and making oo's-a-diddah-pweshus noises at them. No matter what age. And most of all, don't be the Parent Who Killed Their Child's Christmas by giving them socks.

My mother and I are the entirety of our two-person family, and so we have a tradition of giving each other several gifts at the holidays and at birthdays. They are usually something specifically asked for by the prospective recipient, directly to the prospective giver, during the year or leading up to the event. They have a tendency to be a bit on the expensive side because we don't have any Auntie Gertie or Nana Lois to get drug-store perfume for. It's a matter quantity and quality in our undiluted family sphere.

Pretending you're really, truly pleased for
like the 11th time: Saddest. Thing. Ever.
Which is why I was totally appalled when my mother came up here for her first white Christmas in thirty years and bequeathed unto me almost a dozen packages of socks. They weren't even funny or brightly colored. Just package after brightly-wrapped package of every child's holiday nightmare; the Functional Gift.

Happy un-birthday, Stinky
Let's just be clear. It is nice to get your child more of something he or she really needs, but hasn't seemed motivated enough to do for themselves. Especially if it is bothering you. If you're paying for it, these unspoken messages should be accepted with grace; the "impromptu" reservations made to cut your hair, the shopping trip that yielded more deodorant than one might rightfully have expected, etc. But that is for the rest of the year. Yes, showing those closest to you that you notice what they do and that you're thinking of them when you're out shopping is great...But if you dare to wrap something as functional as long underwear in holiday paper without meaning it as a joke, I will manifest wherever you are, hit you really hard in the shin with the nearest thing to hand and scream, "YOU'RE BEING THAT GUY!!!" So don't do it. Because rematerialization is theorized to be physically impossible and would rewrite or unwrite the current laws of reality. And its just not nice, destroying the universe like that. Especially at that special time of the year.
*This is actually untrue. What truly sustains them is the rising clouds of embarrassment emanating from their dining companions. They are like incubi of shame.

1 comment:

  1. Duly noted, I'll be sure to keep the plain socks for myself.