“Ninety percent of the people in this world are fools, and the rest of us are in great danger of contamination,” quoth one Horace Vandergelder in the 1969 version of Hello Dolly!, and if you asked me to pick a quote that would sum up my life in a sentence, that’s probably the one that I’d pick, at least after today. I must have been spending most of my life tuned out to everything, because I was a little shocked when I finally paid a little more attention to my surroundings throughout the day. Here are some of the more memorable — and less enjoyable — experiences.
1. They’re superficial.
Contrary to popular belief, bathrooms generally aren’t cool or appealing places to hang out, though these girls seemed to disagree. “So my hair looked good this morning,” one of them gushed, “but then I went to gym and it looked bad!” Had I not been actually using the restroom less than a few feet away, I probably would have given that a standing ovation and maybe a Pulitzer Prize, if I had any in the stall. Personal hygiene is good yeah, but in a world wherein nations halfway across the hemisphere are investing in nuclear weaponry and such exciting concepts exist as chaos theory, the conversational topic they chose is not a fascinating something I want to invest my brain cells in.
And that’s fine, yeah.
But then they wouldn’t go away.
“No, it looked really good this morning!” the first one continued, though I didn’t actually hear her friend disagreeing. They spent, what, the next five minutes chattering over the sink and getting gussied up before their lunch period. Or maybe math, who knows, but then definitely not Trig: Algebra I, possibly. Why the whole thing took so long is beyond me. No one carries purses here, so they only things they might have had on their person would have been a hair brush, perhaps, or a mascara wand. Certainly not the portable stage vanity they pretended to have, which, though I’m not the vice chairman of Ulta, strikes me as a little tacky.
2. They’re terrible conversationalists.
Earlier this morning, my English teacher was cajoling us into having more elaborate group discussions (remind me to post next time on why I hate group discussions) on our currently studied literature, Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye. Granted, I had already read the book (not because I’m diligent, but because I didn’t want to do it later), so first I was all like, in response to a group member’s earlier question, “maybe the use of the cat’s eye marble as the title evidences a more symbolic meaning towards the protagonist’s attitude towards the marble and the way she’s perceived in society, like, on this page she says she looks at the marble in secret and that it’s her favorite, so maybe she has her own interests and personality but hides them to impress the other girls and fit in, which in itself has a lot of thematic relevance, kind of like how as an adult she’s obsessed with the motif of disguises and hiding her identity as an artist.”
The other kids looked at me, clearly having no idea what the hell I’d just said.
“Yes,” one of them responded, topping her own record for contributions to the conversation.
3. actually I don’t have a name for this one
There’s a particular diction choice I noticed when I reflected, to myself, on the way to the bus stop that afternoon, that boys are stupid. Keyword: boys. Not guys, not men. I am surrounded by boys (with the exception of my brother, he’s around 6’2 and at that point it becomes somewhat arguable). Waiting for the bus, I’m people watching this couple — no, correction, they migrated a foot in front of the bench I was on — that just blows my mind. The boy was someone I’m vaguely friends with on Facebook (i.e. someone whom I know and notice in a bored sort of way but who has the memorial capacity of a goldfish and does not know me at all), and the girl was a year younger, someone I had gone to junior high with and whom I’d heard somewhat bad things about.
So he’s pretty good looking; I think he might have actually been a model at some point. But imagine that a duck and a person had a baby, and you smashed that baby’s face in with a hammer, splattered some eyeliner in there, and then she fell into a vat of bleach and came out looking like a highlighter. Got a good image? Good. Ok, fifteen years later, give or take, that’s her face. And he’s kissing her, arbitrarily of course, and at an arm’s length, kind of like oh what is this thing doing here maybe i’ll rest my hands on it, and she’s pecking at him with her duck bill, which makes it even more duck billy and pouched, and they’re sort of just dangling around each other as kids of this type do. But it’s evident they’ve been going out or at least good friends for a while, because he starts grabbing her, having nothing else to do, and she gets mad and starts groping him, like:
“Your penis is mine!”
“Ouch, you squeezed it!”
“I’m nauseous enough already, thanks.” (ok, that one was me, and not actually out loud)
Call me an idealist, but when I picture the quintessential romantic couple, it’s something along the lines of a more learned pair that basks with pleasure in the other’s presence. Maybe one occasionally nibbles on the other’s neck, or whatever, or maybe they go to romantic dinners together, preferably in a quiet cafe somewhere, and over there is a unicorn outside the window. Point is, not this boy and his duck in their Vans shoes and rasta lanyards and leather jackets.
Of course, then he sits next to my brother when the bus pulls up, and I’m thinking that if I were more of an obscene individual I might discreetly flip the bird, though that seems not enough. You’d need to catapult it. Yes, my bird’d be a dang gymnast. Anyway, I shuffle to the back, and, well, that reminds me of another episode, but we’ll get to that later.