Smile Politely

Livin’ it up when I’m goin’ down

Before I get into this week’s nonsense, I have to reference those elevator games I mentioned a few weeks ago. Apparently, messing with strangers has been an obsession of mine for a while now, as this week I found an old note about an elevator riding experience I had several years back. We were headed down from our hotel room to the lobby, and it took several minutes for the elevator to pick us up. I recall watching the lights that signal the car’s location moving around nonlinearly, but when the doors finally opened, we stepped on and joined the many other passengers. As the doors closed, one man announced, “This elevator is crazy.” My immediate response was, “Not as crazy as I am,” followed by my best evil laugh/rubbing of my hands together. Yeah … that was an awkward ride. 

And if I can have a soapbox moment before moving on, I do realize it’s my unearned white privilege that allows me to mess with people in elevators. Questlove’s insightful article from Tuesday’s New York Magazine reinforces that unfortunate truth. I recommend taking a moment to check it out.

We’ve all seen some pretty fucked up shit in the news recently, and after mentioning a few of the more disturbing stories to the husband, he responded, “Yeah. It’s DEVO.” And I was all like, “What?” And he said, “You know, the de-evolution of society.” And I was all like, “Ohhhh … right. I gotchu man.”

I figured I should probably try to escape the horrific tragedies I’d been hearing about, and decided to dumb my world down a little bit by tuning into the timeless classic, Porky’s. But when I learned that the film only earned one star, I panicked and thought, will these injustices ever cease? Are you kidding me? One fucking star? Pee Wee and Meat acted their fucking hearts out in that movie. Needless to say, I remain outraged. But I digress…

The Non-Committal Fire Starter

For years I’ve been convinced that there are only a select number of people who actually buy the lighters we all use. Ask yourself, people who use lighters for various reasons, when was the last time you actually purchased a flame throwing device? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I think I know why. 

If you do happen to consider buying a lighter at all, it’s usually on the rare occasion when you think you might be stranded someplace where no one else would have one. So let’s say you do commit to the purchase … there you are, at the dirty little gas station counter, and the only other things you’re buying are a Polar Pop and a pack of cigs. The employee rings you up and you put $9.75 on your debit card before you remember, “Shit.  I need a lighter.” Now you only have one easy decision to make: which of the 300 lighters on that counter do you buy? Do you go for the one with the picture of a leopard on it? Or maybe you choose the bitchin’ KISS one? My conclusion — and I think I’ve sufficiently established my ethos as a social scientist — is that the stressful nature of choosing a lighter means that most of us rely on other people to do our dirty work. Kudos to the few, the proud, the Nelsons.

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