by RIP RENSE
Aug. 22, 2007
Less Than Satisfying Encounters With Humanity,
or LTSEWH, just to create a particularly stupid and unpronounceable 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, and the interests of sparing The Rip Post lawsuits.
LTSEWH # 1: The
I went out for an evening
walk with my first lieutenant, Annie, and our neighbor, Syb. Both Annie and
Syb are female, and I am not. I understand Yoko Ono’s ancient plea to “let
your female side out” and all that, but it doesn’t work. Both of my sides
are male, though I admit that my testosterone isn’t what it used to be. For
instance, I no longer bark and chase cars, and the palms of my hands have
What this has to do with
the California Lottery, I will now explain. Syb is one of those unflaggingly
sunny people who believes she might win the jackpot. She also believes that
there are nice people in L.A., but that’s another matter.
Bon apetit, I
say, though I have never purchased a lottery ticket. I don’t enjoy the
sight of people being tricked out of their minimum wages by the state of
California in a contest where the odds of winning are not as good as
fornication with Oprah.
So I watched Syb lay out
dozens of lottery tickets and punch them into a tiny machine at a 7-Eleven.
“Did you buy all those?”
And here, dear readers,
is where we near the point of this little tale of gender difference. Syb’s
reply was, “Oh, these are old ones.”
I stood there, wondering
if “oh, these are old ones” had somehow answered the question about whether
she had purchased all the tickets. And this is where the suspicion that this
was not a simple miscommunication, but rather, a phenomenon of female brain
function, entered the picture.
I walked over to Annie
and asked the same question.
“Did Syb buy all those
tickets?” I asked.
And as sure as a
colossal intergalactic cockroach crouches on the dark side of the moon,
waiting to devour the earth, this is what Annie said:
“Those are old ones.”
See what I mean about
being male? Forget all the scientific research and analysis that suggests or
even illustrates how male and female brains process information differently,
this little anecdote is all you will ever need.
Somehow, both Annie and
Syb felt that “those are old ones” answered the question. Had they assumed
that I thought Syb had just purchased the tickets, despite the fact that I
had walked in with her? Did the fact that these were old tickets somehow
convey in female philosophy that they had been purchased?
“That’s exactly what Syb
said!” I declared. “Neither of you actually answered the question! You see?
You are both female!”
I felt momentarily
vindicated, then wondered why, and wound up shaking my head. A distinctly
BRAND NEW! AT LAST---
SATISFYING ENCOUNTERS WITH HUMANITY---
BY RIP RENSE
art by James Ferrigno
You've read the column for years. . .
Now 230 LOL pages of LTSEWH's can be yours!
LTSEWH # 2: Testy
I phoned my doctor’s
office for test results. Or should I say my doctors’ office, as I had been
examined and treated by both of them on different occasions, depending on
who was on hand.
I spoke my name and
announced that I was calling for test results.
“Who is your doctor?”
said a woman on the phone, with all the warmth and compassion of a directory
I explained that, in
fact, both doctors had treated me, so I wasn’t sure which one was my
“Which doctor do you want
to speak to?”
“Neither,” I said. “I
just want test results.”
“Which doctor do you want
to speak to?”
Umm. . .hadn’t I
heard this question already? I tabled an urge to start singing, "My
Friend, The Witch Doctor."
“I don’t want to speak to
either of them, as I said. But Dr. (Dingus) examined me this time, although
Dr. (Doofus) is my usual doctor.”
“Which doctor do you want
to speak to?”
Did the woman have
obsessive-compulsive disorder? Was she also washing her hands and turning in
a circle three times? I decided that no, she was just, well. . .don’t you
just love it when people are cooperative, professional, understanding,
inquiring, efficient? When they take bold initiative to sort out complex
problems? It just warms my heart, and makes me feel positively zingy, zesty,
zippy! Proud to be alive!
“I told you, I don’t want
to speak to any doctor. I’m just calling for test results. You usually give
them over the phone. As I said, I was examined by Dingus, but Doofus is my
usual doctor here.”
“I’ll have someone call
you back,” she said, and hung up.
Yessirree. It’s only your
um, oh. . .life. . .in question, that’s all. Only your health. Only a
test that could reveal whether you can continue waltzing about in carefree
fashion, or if you need to start estate planning. No need for courtesy here,
let alone doing what’s necessary to get information to you.
You’re just the idiot on
the phone who doesn’t even know who his doctor is.
LTSEWH # 3: Party
Now this one happened a
few years ago, but it popped to mind recently and is too good, or bad, to
leave in the LTSEWH vault.
There I was. . .
At a party---a very rare
occurrence for me in recent years, as I am enough of a party to myself as it
is. But there I was, with my faithful Indian companion, Annie, at the home
of a former Herald-Examiner colleague, a highly regarded critic and
her brilliant psychiatrist husband.
for the likes of a middle-aged hack in a battered Grateful Dead cap, I know,
but what the hell. I can take a joke. Besides, the couple wised up and
stopped inviting me to their backyard wingdings shortly thereafter, without
I wonder if it had to do
A gray-haired guy
perhaps 60 or so turned around, and found himself face-to-face with me
and Annie. I began speaking to him, picking up the thread of a conversation
I’d heard him having about oh, I don’t remember, ants, movies, South Pacific
Island diseases. . .I made a friendly little quip, he responded, and I
responded, and before we knew it. . .fledgling conversation! This, I
think---but don’t hold me to it---is what people do at parties. They have
And then he said---or
“I hate conversations
like this. They’re so superficial and shallow and meaningless and stupid.”
Huh? Well, shut my mouth
and slap me silly! Eh?
“Uh. . .I agree,” I
smiled, “but oh, what are you going to do?”
I resumed trying to make
polite chit-chat, out of sheer reflex, but didn’t get far. I was, truth be
told, caught completely off-guard. Had this guy really just insulted the
nouns and verbs out of us? Why? Why would a stranger do such a thing, and in
such an innocuous setting?
Next, this bearer of
glad tidings cast a smartass sneer at me and Annie, turned his back, and
walked away, presumably to speak to people who might provide him with the
sort of elevated discourse he deserved.
Annie and I looked at
each other, befuddled, with the kind of feeling you get when splashed with
mud by a passing truck. After a moment, we opted to sort of smilingly stroll
around to the side of the house, as if we were having a perfectly splendid
time---and then get the hell out of there.
I didn’t realize it until
later, but many, if not most, of the invited guests were patients of the
brilliant psychiatrist host. It might have helped me to understand this.
That I was attending a soiree for quasi-cuckoos.
Ah, no wonder I was
Still, I’d have liked to
have picked that guy up by his lapels and presented him with some more
LTSEWH # 4:
Some LTSEWH’s require no
social intercourse whatsoever. Just being in the presence of certain persons
is one hell of a LTSEWH. I would imagine that, say, running into Dick Cheney
in the market would be the granddaddy of them all.
There I was. . .
I know, I know,
whaddya expect. I’m not going to get into my trip there, except
to say that the hideous and fiendish rape of Uncle Walt’s quaint and
cornball fantasy park by demographers and greed-barons far exceeded my
expectations. And my expectations were horrific. A fine line between heaven
and hell, there is. . .
I just want to cite one
little scene of many that were oh, let’s say. . .disconcerting:
Four women, each weighing
between 300 and 500 pounds, all using either walkers or electric carts to
traverse the place, sitting on benches in Frontierland, enjoying a little
McDonald’s burgers and
And you wonder why they
call it The Happiest Place on Earth.
LTSEWH # 5:
Call me sucker, chump,
fool, dunderhead, simp, moron---it doesn’t matter. No amount of chastising
will ever deter me from putting myself in positions where people might
easily take advantage of me. I was trained well as a youth, you see (long
story.) You can’t unring a bell.
So when a Barnes and
Noble “community representative” suggested a small publisher who might want
to pick up my novel, “The Oaks,” I followed up. You never know, I told
myself. Maybe this time there won’t be a liar/pompous
martinet/self-important crud on the other end of the phone.
I was right. The woman
publisher was extraordinarily pleasant, conversational, and most important,
keenly interested in my book. She kept me on the phone for about 45 minutes!
I had the sense that she was having trouble disguising her excitement over
“The Oaks,” which held a very strong local and nostalgic angle for her
audience. We had a wonderful talk. She asked for a copy.
No, I did not get my
hopes up. I did not stupidly assume that this was practically a done
deal. I merely thought that this prospect held a small bit of possibility.
Like I said. . .sucker,
chump. . .
Let me ask you something.
If you ask for a manuscript, are you not bound by professional standards, if
not courtesy, to drop a note in response, confirming receipt? Hi, got
your manuscript, thank you. Will review and get back to you. It could be a
couple of months. . .Yes, I think so, too. But then, this is the 21st
century, the era of “no response means ‘no’,” and e-mail with no
I never heard a word, of
course. No note, no carrier pigeon, no owl from Hogwarts. Nada thing.
Well, I thought, that’s okay, nobody’s perfect, I’ll wait. . .Two months
later, I began leaving polite phone messages---a total of three over three
You guessed it: nada
Finally I simply wrote a
letter asking for the book to be returned, and enclosed a check to cover
mail and envelope. I backed it up with an e-mail---
And got a response! Money
having been out of the country---for two weeks. Um, yeah, but what about
the other six? Said she had been on a motorcycle vacation (whoop-tee-doo),
liked the book, but “have not figured out how it can fit into what I am
(Huh? Hint: you publish
books. Either you um, publish it, or you don’t.)
Finally. . .
“I am sorry that you lost
Lost faith. Har. Au
contraire, Madame Publishaire, you merely reinforced my faith---that
agents and publishers have nothing in their heads but live rats running
round, tripping random synapses, occasionally munching on them.
The book was returned,
thank you, along with my very nice original letter. In the corner, Madame
had scrawled a big letter representing her first name, and scribbled these
“SORRY IT DIDM’T (sic)
I’m not. It didm’t
seem like much of a publishing company, anyhow.
LTSEWH # 6:
I don’t know if you read
about the editor at the Seattle Times who
chastened his newsroom staff for bursting into spontaneous applause at
the news that Karl “The Pig” Rove had left the White House. Actually, it was
just a few staffers who clapped (sad to say), hardly the entire newsroom.
Well, I have this crazy
idea that newsrooms should be rollicking, haywire, wild-and-wooly collisions
of personality, talent, stupidity, stained ties, and a little booze and
smoke. And if the booze and smoke are no longer tolerated, at least they
should be places of chaos and invention and irreverence and. . .freedom.
Plus I subscribe to
the old “comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable” ethos for
newspapers. But of course, that would be “biased” and not “balanced” and all
that other illusory nonsense that has all but choked the life and joy out of
papers everywhere. So I felt I had to drop a note to the editor---actually,
he’s the “executive editor”---of the Seattle Times, who bears the
frighteningly corporate name of David Boardman. I mean, Woody Allen would
have named this guy. Here is my note:
Dear Mr. Boardman,
Your attempt to squelch
free and spontaneous expression in your newsroom is another example of the
self-seriousness that has infected newspapers and helped fuel their
circulation decline. Your action can only stifle the spirit of your
newsroom, and generate disrespect and disgust for you. The cheering for
Rove’s departure was “not appropriate for a newsroom,” you write. I hope you
extend this policy to cheering for world series winners, or displays of
mourning in the event of the death of a national figure. Best you should
weed out all emotional displays in your newsroom and have your staff sit at
their desks with hands folded like good little boys and girls. I’ve always
wondered what “executive editors” do, and now I know.
Lest you think my last
comment was gratuitously snide, I’ve known a few “executive editors” at two
newspapers, and as near as I can tell, they never did anything but write
memos for reporters to laugh at.
Anyhow, The Board Man.
. .wrote back! That’s correct! The ego of these guys! Engaging in
tit-for-tat with unknown people in distant cities! It absolutely bears out
my previous impression of “executive editors.” This one had nothing more
important to do than write to Rense! (That’s pretty sad.) Here is his
Our circulation is up,
actually. . .Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld.
Yup, he took the time and
trouble to respond from his Blackberry, even.
And if you think I
responded, you probably did not vote for George W. Bush.
I wrote, simply:
No reflection on you.
Well, wouldn’t you know
it? There was all sorts of hubbub and foofera on the web about Boardman the
next day: at
Editor and Publisher, and
Why? Because the executive editor had done exactly what executive editors do
best: he had written a long memo! The kind of big, flatulent, puffy,
sickeningly precious memo that only executive editors can write. E&P and
Romanesko reproduced it in full, so people like me can have more fun in
their day. Here is a sample:
"A good newsroom is a
sacred and magical place.”
If you think I took
the opportunity to write another note to The Board Man, then you
probably have no trouble tying your shoes. Here is my response:
"A good newsroom is a
sacred and magical place."---David Boardman.
Wow. Now what was I
telling you about self-seriousness, Dave? This quote makes one wonder: do
you have animal sacrifices in your newsroom these days? Baptisms? Do you
perform the Mysterious Chinese Linking Rings trick? Saw women in half?
The Board Man did not
write back. He had better things to do, at last!
LTSEWH # 7:
I’ve reported this sort
of circumstance before, but it’s so remarkable that I must do it again:
Males walking toward each
other on an L.A. sidewalk. Male # 1: me. Males #2 and 3: younger fellows of
foreign (possibly Middle East) extraction, judging from appearance and
accent. Sidewalk: wide. Wide enough for males to pass one another without
Yet neither Males # 2 or
3 move aside to allow Male # 1 to pass. Seeing this, Male # 1 does not move
aside, either, as he already occupied only about two-thirds of the right
side of the sidewalk. Male # 2 plows directly into Male # 1’s shoulder (or
vice-versa, if you prefer), and both spin sideways as a result. Male # 2
merely keeps on walking, as if nothing unusual has happened.
lives! Uh! Uh! Hail the return of Cro-Magnon man! He wins!
LTSEWH # 8: Turn,
I pulled slightly into a
T-intersection, in order to see around parked cars in either direction and
prevent a premature dispatching to the ethers of my physical self. All cars
do this at this intersection. It is as necessary for making a safe left turn
as red ties are to Washington, D.C..
I noted a car coming on
the left, and waited for it to pass. An older Mustang, with an older Mustang
driver. He was not signaling. He was not slowing down. He was not in the
left turn lane. I therefore made the extraordinarily dangerous assumption
that he was not planning to turn left (in front of me.) So I crept out, ever
so slowly, a little further, anticipating my left turn-to-come. But---
He suddenly whipped
left directly in front of me, did Mustang Man, with no warning, and as
he passed he snarled, shouted, and gave me the favorite salute of modern,
evolved humanity: the raised third finger. I hit the brakes to avoid
collision, and being similarly evolved, I returned his jolly gesture. For
fun, I screwed up my face to affect the ambience of, oh, Moe Howard.
Mustang Man did not
To the extent that he
next performed the Big Insanity that so many do in L.A.. He. . .turned
around, and began chasing me.
Because I did not know
Mustang Man, and do know that many, many people carry guns in their cars, I
engaged in evasive action. Mustang Man roared past me and attempted to cut
me off by swerving in front of me and stopping.
But I have been in
this situation before---it really is an L.A. sport---so as soon as he
passed me, I simply performed a grand U-turn at about 40 miles per hour, and
headed the other way. Mustang Man promptly darted through a parking lot and
down an alley to give chase, but I was in a Prius, and as Al Gore’s son
knows, they go a hundred miles per hour. I settled for 45 or 50, made a
couple of turns, and lost him.
Just another genteel
encounter between neighbors in placid, pastoral Southern California.
For more LTSEWH's, watch
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