Sunday, August 16, 2009

My "Hat Is On" To The Common Orange County DB

This morning, I missed out on a fight over the quality of my hat.

The offending head wear is a brown-and-plaid-toned, thin-brimmed cap like the one dads used to wear with a straight face during the 1950s, as they rested in their lawn chairs, smoking pipes, drinking Hamms beer, watering the lawn, and smackin' the kids upside the head for misbehavin', all simultaneously. Throw in a set of severe looking eyeglasses and you get the complete picture. But for the fact that these hats are sold in surf shops, they would be decidedly uncool. But my 2 1/2 year-old daughter really liked me wearing it, so I picked one up on my way home from the Piggly Wiggly.

This morning--just one day after the purchase--someone dared to challenge my choice of lids. This happened much faster than I expected. And even more disturbing was the fact that I was confronted about my hat by none other than THE Orange County Douche Bag ("OCDB").

The OCDB species is indigenous to the area: Pasty white dude piloting a moderately expensive car (new model Infinity, in this case), sporting designer wrap-around Gucci sunglasses, tight "Affliction" t-shirt, "True Religion" jeans, blinding silver watch with a dial bigger than his pinhead, and a David Schwimmer haircut that looked like he had applied gel to his bangs then slammed a screen door into his face. (Quick reminder: I am talking about a male here.) Some of them might even be seen in the very hat that this particular DB saw fit to chastise. In its natural habitat, the OCDB poses no significant threat--one will generally divert its attention to ogling OC Chicks (definition pending) and lying about how often he has gotten laid lately. It is rare for an OCDB to confront a member of the same sex for any reason. In fact, on any given business day, this particular OCDB would probably be some sort of executive or semi-executive, headed to work--sort of like me, but in this case, pastier and much, much fatter.

On this particular Sunday, OCDB was bored. Really bored.

I was driving to work, minding my business, wearing my hat. I had not been driving erratically, had not flipped anyone off for at least three blocks, and had not even cut anyone off yet. (In other words, I was having an "off" day already.) I was simply cruising along, at the speed limit, thinking about how delighted I was to be headed to work on Sunday. I stopped at the signal just outside John Wayne Airport. There was no one else around, either on the street or at the stop light.

It was at this point that OCDB pulled up next to me in his new Infinity. He was alone in the car--there was no one in the car to impress. No co-DBs. No blond college girls. As an OCDB-cum-solo, he was the last guy on earth I would have thought would want to start a fight this morning.

But I was wrong. As he started laughing, I realized that he was insulting my hat. In fact, he said something really creative like "Hey, that's a stupid hat!" I looked at him with no expression at all--no anger, no humor, no anything. The truth is, the hat is kind of funny.

OCDB motioned for me to roll down the window. Anticipating a good-natured laugh between two OCDBs over my now-controversial hat, I complied. But to my surprise, as the window came down, I heard him "popping off" at me. As of this point, I had not said anything to provoke this. But all by himself, he escalated his situation. After he was done insulting my hat, he started in on my car. And how slow it is. And how I must think I'm fast, but in reality, I'm really slow. And how I am a pussy. (This in the span of about 10 seconds.) There was no single unified theme to his rant; it began with a chuckle about my hat, then a rhetorical question about whether it was Sunday [in fact, it was], followed by speculation about my car's handling, and finally, a declaration that I was a pussy. Again, I offered no expression and no words. Not even a one-fingered salute, which would have been entirely appropriate under the circumstances. I just watched and listened as he worked himself into a frenzy, until it was no longer clear to me where he was going with this. I expected that, when the light turned green, OCDB would blast off, so as to demonstrate how fast his car was, try to cut me off, or otherwise do something else to engage.

Instead, OCDB did nothing. When the light turned green, I rolled up the window and drove through the intersection at a normal pace. As the window ascended, it choked out the last, frustrated words of OCDB, who continued to yell at me, from behind, about how much faster he was and how I should pull over so that he could show me. (The irony in that was probably lost on him as he continued to rant, but I thought it was pretty good.) I expected he would try to follow me, but he did not. Rather than race up behind me to continue his tirade, demonstrate how fast his car was, or both, he slowed down and pulled over somewhere behind me. Maybe he thought I would come back to hear him out. I kept rolling, dangerously close to the speed limit, as OCDB just sat there by the side of the road, disappearing into the depths of my rear view mirror.

The entire episode had run its course--from ridicule, to anger, to challenge, to backing-down--all without any input from me. I didn't even have time for a one-liner. I may as well have been Amish. It was very unsatisfying.

The whole thing was actually very confusing--I wasn't sure what to make of it. I did not feel any of the desired effects--intimidation, provocation, anger. Instead, I was just disappointed by OCDB's lack of creativity or follow-through. Truthfully, it made me want to take my hat back to the store where I bought it, so that I could select an even more obnoxious one, then try again in the hopes that I could attract more coherent and creative ridicule next time. What kind of knob has nothing better to do in the Irvine/Newport area on a weekend than drive around, by himself, in a luxury car, trying to pick a fights with random yuppies wearing funny hats, only to totally back down when the opportunity presents itself?

Deep down, I suspect OCDB probably wanted to ask me where he could get a hat like mine, but was too shy to just ask. If he had asked, I would have urged him to get one, so that he could complete his look.

And to OCDB, itself, be it known: I drive the same route to work every day, in the same car. Hope to see you there again. Next time, consider using complete sentences when you smack-talk. While I cannot promise that you will succeed (at smack-talking or anything else), your chances are better if your target audience can decipher your words.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Local Man Lays Off Children in Effort to Stimulate Economy, Sex Life

--Boone's Folly, California

Following reports of devastating losses in Q4 2008, local financial services consultant Carl Schweigl, 38, announced that a reduction in force would soon grip his household. Through a spokesperson, Schweigl issued the following statement: "Management has taken a long, hard look at our balance sheet over the last three months while the current economic downturn deepens, and reached the regrettable conclusion that a reduction in force is necessary in order to preserve our economic fortitude in these strenuous times and sufficient capital to maintain the beer supply above critical levels. Impacted family members will be notified at the next dinnertime. Outplacement services (cab fare and $20 in pizza coupons) will be provided. We had hoped this day would never come, but wish the impacted well in their future endeavours."

Three of the Schweigls' six children were expected to receive pink slips at the next family dinner. Mrs. Schweigl, 37, was quoted as saying "Management has made the decision to wait until later in the meal, when it is determined who has been feeding their vegetables to the dog" before handing out the pink slips. Mrs. Schweigl, herself, expressed confidence that her own position was secure, citing her possession of a valid Class C driver's license, gainful employment, a binding prenuptial agreement in her favor, and that one video of Mr. Schweigl getting naked while playing drinking games with his buddies at Lake Mead four years ago.

Reacting to the news of the impending RIF, family member James Schweigl, 12, said "Whatever. The benefits package here sucked anyway. Especially dental."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Message from The President (of KevinBaconLand)

Most are familiar with the postulate known as "Six Degrees of Separation." In its simplest form, the theory goes something like this: Any person on Earth at exactly this moment can be related to any another person on Earth at this moment through a direct series just SIX relationships of varying intimacy. (In reality, this theory is really much more complex--thousands and thousands of academics, working in universities around the world--mostly in Mississippi--have been attempting to perfect the contours of this theory with the aide of copious amounts of alcoholic substance and unhealthy exposure to Kevin Bacon movies.)

As a hypothetical illustration of this principle, consider the following: Today, you may have been standing in line at Starbucks next to a woman (1), whose uncle, the writer (2), is married to a carpenter (3), who made a toy giraffe for the daughter (4) of a doctor (5) who operated on Lance Armstrong's (6) torn meniscus (which, by the way, he suffered while trying to emulate moves from the film "Footloose," starring Kevin Bacon). Through this simple, yet elegant, constellation of relationships, you have just been related to Lance Armstrong. The conduits of these relationships could be anyone--a person on the bus, your spouse--the level of the relationship simply does not matter.

And so, it is with this principle in mind that I thank the American People for sending me to Washington, D.C.--specifically, the White House. That's right, the White House. I have attained the highest office in the land in a mere TWO degrees. Not bad for a political rookie. I shall explain.

Please refer to the photo at right. This is the editorial board for the Harvard Law Review, Vol. 104 (1990-1991). Note the festive attire, the good-natured humor, and the mirth emanating from their ranks. These people are having fun.

Anyway, seated at center, holding the staff, is BARACK OBAMA. Mr. Obama was the Editor-in-Chief ("president" as they're known at Haaaarvard) of the Harvard Law Review in 1991. Mr. Obama then went on to become a Constitutional law professor (mid-1990s), and among other things, President of the United States from 2009-2042. (I am counting on a Constitutional Amendment.)

Seated two positions to Mr. Obama's right in the photo is--I am informed and believe--JIM CHEN. Mr. Chen was the Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review (1991), and more critically, MY constitutional law professor at University of Minnesota Law School in 1999. He was also the faculty advisor to Volume 86 of the Minnesota Law Review, Yours Truly, Editor-in-Chief (nose held high).

Coincidence? No. I am inextricably connected to these two giants. But get ready for the sum of these events: Applying Kevin Bacon's Principle of Human Interrelation, through the transitive property of Professor/Dean Chen, I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. That's right.

Am I just pimping my own Bacon-esque constellation of relationships for political gain? Water skiing over the vapors left behind those who have actually achieved something in their vocation, then shamelessly packaging those achievements up and presenting them as my own? You bet. But why not? Some Presidents are made just that way! (43)

The interrelation does not end with my ascension to the Presidency, though. As yet another amazing turn, Professor/Dean Chen is also currently on the short list to be the next Dean of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, where my father's wife is currently preparing for matriculation. So, applying the same principles, I have appointed her Secretary of the Interior Design.* Responsibilities include Oval Office decor, coordination of gala events, daily briefings on terrorist activities, and conducting meetings with dignitaries while I am out clearing brush on the ranch.

Once again, thank you for placing the faith of the Republic behind me, and the fate of a nation in my hands. Prepare yourself for Change you won't want to believe.

*Appointment subject to Senate confirmation and presentation of valid juris doctor certificate.