30 August, 2010

Smile Story

Smile Story


I want to piss in every gas tank of every car that is parked in a handicapped spot without a handicapped plate or hang tag. The problem is, I don’t have that much piss. So instead, I call the cops or tell the business who owns the spot. I don’t often call anyone to action, especially you guys (except for the Kyle McNary thing; remember that? You guys are great.), but I would encourage you cats and kittens to make an example of these parking spot stealing sons and daughters of worthless whores. They’re almost as bad as the faux hawked, designer t-shirt, flat brimmed hat motherfuckers who stop in the fire lane to drop off their Beowulf boot, giant purse, oversized sunglasses tramps instead of parking the car and using their perfectly able legs to walk to the entrance. If it’s raining, that’s different; I don’t have to tell you guys that. It usually isn’t raining. But these fake-capped, douche-eating, ought to be candidates for a career in suicide bombing fuckers really ought to be taken to task. You see, the parking spot is closer because people like me can’t fucking walk, not because we want to save the time it takes to walk through the parking lot into the coffee shop to get a mocha half-caff non-fat frappa-whateverthefuck-nonsense-chino before the next guy.

Clearly, I didn’t wake up on the right side of the bed today. I never do because the other side of my bed is flush with a wall, so I inevitably wake on the wrong side. Which is the only side. So I guess it must be the right side by default. So the right side of my bed is the wrong side. Regardless, I’m cranky and that never spells success. So I’m just going to free rant about some shit and see where it leads. These ones are always fun aren’t they? Yeah, I don’t think so either.

I was standing outside of the bookstore the other day smoking a cigarette and generally ignoring what was going on around me. I ignore pretty well. The wind was blustery, which is the only thing I’ve ever heard described as blustery. Chilly with a sky that raised into forever. The moon was flexing its green cheese muscles, even though it was late afternoon, and the hum of cars on the four lane road ahead of me was an interesting muted soundtrack. It was a pretty nice setting for a children’s CGI animal adventure movie. Cue the actor with the dying career and the slut of the week pop star’s hit single. (Let me preface this next part by saying that I haven’t taken my crazy pills in a couple days.)

A middle aged man with too much product in the hairs he is so desperately hanging onto briskly walked toward me to the entrance to the bookstore. He ought to have been on my list of things to ignore, but unfortunately, he caught my eye, and like a good citizen of world society, I smiled at him. That’s what you do. You smile at strangers. That’s why the smile was invented. He didn’t reciprocate. That’s fine. I don’t expect too many people to actually give a half of a coffee shit about someone that has no consequence on their reality. That is the unfortunate realism of living in the often mis-celebrated ‘melting pot’ nonsense that we learn about in eighth grade Civics class with Mr. Wert. We melt these varied peoples into the pot of the borders of our nation and expect the ingredients to smelt into a firm and unbreakable adamantium Wolverine claw. We seem to forget often that different flavored people have different flavored ideas about the same flavor of life. Ah, paradox. Is there anything you can’t do?

So the middle aged man didn’t smile back. That’s fine. I think I already said that. A decision was made in this miniscule pube of a moment. This man decided that he did not care to share with me the simple courtesy that I chose to share with him. He chose not to smile, and therefore, he chose to not interact with me in the simplest and most harmless way.

It’s remarkable that people can’t find the energy within them to smile at a complete stranger for whatever reason. Maybe we are taught that every stranger is a man or woman that wants to take our things, rape our genitals, kill our lives, or worse, sell us something. Yet on any given day outside any given coffee shop in any given town, there are two strangers having a cigarette together; and one is inevitably spending the calories to spin their miserable tales of personal woe about their job, their relationship, the weather. And the energy to smile at a stranger is too great a cost. Remarkable.

After the middle aged man made the decision to not share his teeth with me, one would suspect that therein would lie the demise of the stranger to stranger interaction that I mistakenly initiated with a friendly smile. One would also assume that the man would continue his determined path to the bookstore entrance, and I would continue filling my lungs with the deliciousness that is tar and nicotine. One would finally assume that my defeat would be realized like so many uncompleted high fives. I took the time to avert my eyes, drag my cigarette, and then ash it in my comfortable, not too violent, not quite sissy way; with my thumbnail on the edge of the filter. I returned my eyes to the middle aged man. He drastically slowed the cadence of his gate, and he was still staring at me. I asked him if he knew me. He asked why. I told him he was staring. He told me I was odd looking. I asked him how. He said, “Look at your ears.”

We’ve talked about social tolerance of modification, and sure, some of my ranting is an exacerbated reaction, picking fly shit out of pepper. However, we do face a certain type of acceptable bigotry that is poorly hidden behind the plastic and elastic string mask of curiosity. I am sure, though, that we have all experienced the differentiation between the innocent and genuine curiosity of a stranger, and the rude and ill-thought declaration of, ‘hey look at that, it’s weird.’

I hadn’t been confronted with a perplexed unmodded onlooker in quite a while, and I think that I had briefly forgotten that this happens from time to time. I guess I started to believe in the stay-out-of-it-ness that I was hoping had germinated in strangers. A sobering conversation with the middle aged man, but at the end of the day, the point at the freak insensitivity of the middle aged man wasn’t what ruined my day. I could give the kitty litter stuck on the back of my fat cat where she can’t reach to clean about this guy and what he thinks of my lobes. If he is open to a modification discussion, I would totally be down for sharing what I know. What sandblasted my ass about the interaction with the middle aged man was that he didn’t smile back at me. How paranoid of a society have we become? How guarded of a people are we that we can’t reciprocate a simple smile and nod from a stranger who has no other interest than to share with others his belief that our society and culture is one of friendly togetherness and beauty? Smile at a stranger. It’s a simple gesture that speaks volumes. Christ, how hard is it to admit to someone you don’t know that you appreciate that person for no other reason than that you share your humanity in common. This paranoia that we have that guards us from interacting with someone we don’t know is the worst cancer. No wonder why we can’t agree on shit in this country; we can’t even smile at one another. Stay beautiful, kids.

Talk to A. Robert Basile on AIM at Basilephone
Yahoo Messenger at andrewbasile@rocketmail.com


  1. I've only recently found your blog and I want you to know that I love all your rants! We clearly share common thoughts on society and I just felt compelled to say something today because I always smile at strangers. Especially strangers I pass in the hallway at work. I see these people everyday, even sit near some of them. I realize we work in a hell hole but when I smile and maybe even utter "Good Morning", I at least expect a small smile in return!! I like to see that these self-absorbed, non smiling dbags irritate someone else!! This planet seems to be filling up with more and more assholes!
    Keep up the rants!!

  2. Jaime - Thanks a ton. Your readership means a lot to me. Keep reading! And spread the word. Free high fives for everyone!