The Rip Post                                Riposte Archive


riposte2.jpg (10253 bytes)

Nov. 9, 2006

          Call them Less Than Satisfying Encounters With Humanity, or LTSEWH, just to create a stupid, ungainly acronym. All names have been included whenever possible in order to ensure fullest humiliation, though in some cases the more hapless have been spared out of compassion.
          LTSEWH # 1: Nose Boy
          “Get a life! You’re an idiot!”
          And so I was assessed, evaluated, sentenced and condemned by a nighttime bicyclist on the glamorous streets of West Los Angeles.
          This sort of thing is hardly a unique experience anymore. In fact, I am the unique experience in today’s world---the ridiculously hopeful citizen, forever expecting others to behave with civility. This, in the fiend-eyes of most of today’s Aggresso-Americans, makes me a wimp.
          There I was. . .
          Walking down a narrow sidewalk around 6:30 p.m.. It was as dark as the future of the human race. Cars choked both sides of Ohio Avenue for as far as an eagle could see in both directions. The sidewalk was not a bikeway, as some sidewalks are designated, but a good, old-fashioned cement walkway designed exclusively for human feet.
          I glanced aheaad and noted a male cyclist in one of those helmets that makes your head look like “Alien,” approaching about thirty feet in front of me. Approaching fast. Aimed right at me, despite the fact that I was on the left side of the sidewalk.
          He braked slowly. I stopped. I had no idea whether he would try to go around me, and if so, whether it would be on the left or right. I did not want to accidentally step in his way.
          Well, this miracle of human development, this billion-year-product of evolution, this one-time amoeba, this former invertebrate single-celled waste-eating organism grown into fabulous sophistication. . .
          Pulled slowly to a halt right at my feet. Face to face. Standoff. On the left side of the sidewalk. Right side as empty as Tyra Banks' eyeballs. I was astonished. This fellow, who was perhaps 35, was apparently playing “chicken” with me. He did not slow down and say, “I’m going on your right,” which would have been fine. He did not get off his stupid goddamned racing bike and walk it around me (of course.) He just faced me, and he spoke:
          “Well,” he said, in a spectacularly smartass, nasal tone, “Choose a side of the sidewalk.”
          Now, you might not believe this, but I start each day with a mantra that goes: “path of least resistance so nobody kills you. . .path of least resistance so nobody kills you. . .” And mostly, I adhere to it. I program myself.
          And with this in mind, I simply stepped aside of Nasal Boy, and in so doing caught his profile and understood the reason for his nose-ness. This guy would have been the envy of Caeser Augustus. How is it that such noble facial features are so often wasted on puny pipsqueaks?
          And as he went by, I spoke:
          “Why don’t you ride in the street, where you are supposed to?”
          Well. Shame on me. Call the cops. Rense has spoken his mind again. Dared to challenge the behavior of yet another human.
          Nose Boy pedaled away quickly, and when he was sufficiently distant as to minimize the potential for physical retribution, he yelled:
          “Eat my ass!”
          Yes. “Eat my ass.” Now, it was true that I had not had dinner, but this invitation did not increase my appetite.
          I recently sprained my ankle, so I could not run. Which was very lucky for him, and very lucky for me. We would have made for good entertainment for cops. I was reduced to yelling something very, very naughty at him, which was very audible to all the passengers sitting on car-strangling Ohio Avenue. Some of them stared at me, to make sure I was not about to shoot or maim.
          Nose Boy’s response:
          “You’re an idiot! Get a life!”
          Ladies and gentlemen, if there are any left out there, we live in a time when most humans behave with as much decorum, sense, and kindness as ants on a piece of excrement. I witness this daily on scale grand and small, and it comes home to me in minor episodes like the aforementioned. I have seen this behavior growing for the past two decades, until it has become the norm, and I never cease to be appalled by it.
          Combine these episodes with the runaway evil and insanity dominating world affairs, and it is a foregone conclusion that the human race is a nasty, puerile, mendacious, fantastically greedy species, and that centuries aimed at promoting and developing restraint and dignity have been a great, stinking failure. We are a wretched, vicious bunch of glorified smudges, and the failure of the race to survive would do the planet, and probably the universe, quite a favor.
          Other than that, everything’s fine.
          LTSEWH # 2: I’m just going to pick up a few things. . .
          Cut me some slack. It’s been a long, long time since something like this happened to me, so I’m allowed to have been befuddled.
          There I was. . .
          In Whole Foods Market (as opposed to Partial Foods Market), in the checkout line, largely checked out of consciousness. It was hot, Santa Ana Wind hot, and the air was desiccated. It was as if the creator of the universe had slipped moisture absorbing preservative packets into the sky.
          I enjoy this weather every bit as much as Saddam Hussein enjoys being captive.
          It turns my brain into dust. It turns my mood into crust. It renders me unfit for human consumption.
          So I kept my hat and sunglasses on, so as not to frighten anyone, and just unobtrusively went about gathering up assorted aliments. Which I laid quietly on the conveyer belt, hoping the exchange with the checker---er, customer service tabulation engineer---might consist of the briefest “paper or plastic” niceties.
And it did! Home free. No social interaction necessary. Phew. Until. . .
          She was in line behind me. I had peripherally taken her in, mechanically, as part of the surroundings. Forty-five to 50, a bit thick around the middle, bouncing brunette coiffure, Jackie-O sunglasses. Genus Shopperus Housewifus Routinus. Well, not quite.
          “So what do you recommend?”
          The statement drifted around, floated, wafted, hung there, happened into my ear. I took it in as I would Muzak. When no one answered, I began to faintly wonder if it had been directed at me. I glanced at the housewifus. She was smiling.
          “Uh, pardon me?” I said.
          “What do you recommend?”
          There it was again. A strange woman in a market was assaulting my Santa Ana-fried psyche with this very weird question. She might as well have asked me if I wanted to eat deep-fried tennis shoes.
          What do you recommend?
          Well, what’s your ailment?

          “Um. . .Sorry, you’re going to have to be more specific.”
She spoke in voice equal parts hearty and friendly, which I found even more confusing:
          “Oh, you know---wine, cheese. . .” she said.
          Er, uh, yes, I knew wine and cheese. You drink one and eat the other. She wanted me to recommend some wine and cheese? I whipped the little gnomes inside my skull that cranked the wheels.
          “Well, I don’t know anything about wine. They usually put cheese samples out, but not today,” I said flatly.
          I had tried to be helpful. Was this what she wanted?
          Evidently not!
          No response. The lady finished unloading her groceries---lots of pasta, sauces, arcane vegetables---and walked back into the store to get something else.
          I was no more perplexed by the whole situation than George W. Bush is by English. I paid, picked up my bags, and shuffled out into the parking lot---
          Where I finally figured out what had just transpired. The woman had tried to pick me up! She had hit on me! Me, a has-been burnout freelance writer in dirty Reeboks.
          What do you recommend---why, it was a flirtatious entrée intended to prompt a witty response! Like, oh, “Rutabaga, fig jam, coffee enemas. . .” Who knows where it might have led? Sweaty mid-afternoon trysts in her kitchen while her bricklayer husband grunted in the sun somewhere. . .Steaming up the car in a Starbucks lot in a late-night quickie! The romantic prospects loomed.
          Along with visions of “Play Misty For Me” and that movie where Glenn Close stalks Michael Douglas.
          What do you recommend. . .
          I recommend you go home, lady, and cook your pasta.
          LTSEWH # 2: Park Avenue
          Sometimes you don’t have to look for L.A.. It finds you. Or rather, it comes and gets you.
          My female superior, Annie, leaves for work very early in the morning (like Karl LaFong.) I stay behind and engage in foolhardy tasks such as writing this column. I am greatly concerned each day that her drive to work will not be uneventful, and my concerns are justified.
          On this day, she didn’t even have to leave the driveway! In fact, she couldn’t. Everything ugly and repugnant about this town came right to her---in the form of a brand new silver BMW.
          It was parked perpendicularly to her car, blocking the driveway, engine idling.
          Well, no big deal, you say. The driver could just move out of her way, right? Yes, but this would have required that the driver had actually been at the wheel of the car. He or she was nowhere to be found. Idling BMW housed only a passenger, a female, and she was engaged in the two pursuits that marginally conscious women in the 21st century are usually engaged in: applying make-up and talking into a cell phone.
          That’s correct. $80,000 Jackassmobile, driverless, idling, blocking exit, bimbo in passenger seat, cell phone on ear, make-up blush in hand. Too perfect. Thank you, L.A.!
          There is a reason that I refer to Annie as my female superior. She does not like to deal with these matters, but she attacks them with aplomb. She approached Passenger, and asked her to move the car. Passenger said that Driver would be back soon. Annie did not debate this insanely annoying statement, but asked Passenger to move the car instead.
          “But I can’t drive a stick!” wailed Passenger.
          No wonder Larry David never runs out of ideas for his show.
          Annie spoke not a word, but proceeded toward Driver’s door. Yes, to the horror of Passenger, a stranger was about to get into the car and move it for her! Kidnapped!
          Just as Driver---a well-heeled, designerly-clad guy who looked straight out of a, well, BMW commercial---appeared, smiling, saying, “Sorry!” He got in the car and drove off.
          It was astonishing. Brain-freezing. Thunderstriking. Almost entirely unimaginable. . .
          He had actually apologized.
          (Oh, that helped.)
          LTSEWH # 3: Inter-species contact
          I had just gotten out of my car, and was crossing the street with a couple of grocery bags, when they came bounding around the corner. Members of the nearby University High School cross-country team, out for a practice. Five, ten, a pause, then five or six more. . .
          They had that impossible bloom of youth in their cheeks, and inexhaustible adrenalin in their bouncing strides---males and females alike. Some of the girls looked a lot more formidable than the boys. Oh, they were a marvel of bone and sinew machinery, legs propelling them forward as if this was the sole purpose of existence. . .
          It brought back---as it always does---memories of my high school days on the cross-country team. I almost sighed, but my lungs were all dried up by the Santa Ana condition. Instead, as teh kids loped and flashed by me, I smiled. I gave them a thumbs-up. And I spoke:
          “Go, Uni!” I said.
          One girl looked at me, badly frightened. Why was this weird old guy shouting at her, making obscene gestures? I smiled again and she was gone. A bunch of guys came around the corner, and zipped by no less than ten feet away.
          “Go, Uni!” I said, smiling again.
          One of the guys took me in. It was plain from his look that he thought I might require either verbal or physical neutralizing. I smiled some more, but it didn’t help. Then I stopped smiling. Too dangerous.
          Generation gap? Har. Species gap.
          LTSEWH # 4: Pedestrian matters
          As far as I know, science has pretty clearly established that automobiles striking pedestrians are likely to cause great harm. Because of this scientific evidence, most countries pass laws that exact very tough punishment on drivers of automobiles whose cars strike pedestrians.
          I seem to be increasingly alone in this knowledge, however.
          There I was. . .
          With my female superior, on yet another Santa Ana condition-sucked-dry afternoon (good old November!), out for a “walk.” Of course, going out for a “walk” in Los Angeles is the pursuit of the eccentric, if not homeless. It is viewed with fear and contempt by most locals, who have forgotten that legs and feet can perform tasks outside of pushing automobile pedals.
          Still, walking in L.A. has its charm. It is guaranteed to yield bucolic views of countless mini-malls preparing countless styles of unhealthful food, pet stores selling mange-ridden kittens, and lots and lots of people driving very fast in cars that cost more money than most people in human history have ever imagined.
          We stepped off a curb in a quiet residential neighborhood. We did so, because the car on our left had stopped at the stop sign. Cars do this in order that pedestrians may cross in front of them without suffering catastrophic injury. It’s all part of the way societies are designed, and well in keeping with human compassion and logic. Except the driver of this car did not seem to be possessed of this particular information.
          She was young, she was well-dressed; there were three children in the back seat and a girlfriend in the front. After she stopped, and watched us step off the curb in front of her, well, she. . .accelerated. Right at us. Sure, why not? Get those irrelevant walking people out of my way!
          We had to stop abruptly, and jump back. Well, my female superior did, anyhow. I charged right at the car and tried to slap it silly. Thunk! I went, on the back window and trunk, with both hands. The car did not seem to feel it at all, and the driver proceeded to blithely pull into a space at a nearby drugstore.
          So I elected to have a little conversation with her. I asked, in a voice probably audible in Tierra del Fuego, what country she was from, advising that in this country, pedestrians had the right of way. She ignored me. I told her that to ignore me was a sign of arrogance. Of course, I put this a bit more bluntly. She still ignored me. I told her a few other things about herself that I thought she might find interesting, but which do not merit disclosure here. She ignored me some more.
          I expressed the wish that she kill someone with her car and wind up in jail for manslaughter.
          She---you guessed it---ignored me, and walked into the drugstore.
          Guess she showed me.
          LTSEWH # 5: Nose Boy II
          But back to Whole Foods (as opposed to Partial Foods.)
I was in the produce section, vexed and disgusted by the fact that they put little stickers on every single apple. What’s the purpose? I have to peel the sticker off of each one that I buy. Somebody has to put those little stickers on every single apple. Or perhaps a machine has been devised to put the sticker on every single apple, which would be worse.
          The stickers promise me that the apples are “organic.” Of course, “organic” has been so leeched of meaning by the FDA that the apples were probably grown with every pesticide known to man. But still---
          Was somebody afraid that I would forget after eating one apple, that the next one was also organic? What was the sticky stuff on the stickers that probably stuck to the apple anyhow, even after I peeled the them off and washed the apple, and would it poison me?
          Just then Whole Foods Produce Guy ambled by, fresh from having rearranged various oranges, persimmons, grapefruit, and. . .apples.
          With his index finger well inserted into his right nasal passage.
Suddenly I was no longer worried about the little stickers.
          There was other organic matter to fret about.
          For more LTSEWH's, watch this space.
          GET READY! The grand LTSEWH book is in the works---soon to be offered on this Bat-website.

                                             BACK TO PAGE ONE

© 2006 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.