For the second time in just over three years, my dad is about to make an emergency trip to the West Coast to deal with shit stirred up by my troubled relationship with Farmer Uncle. At least this time he’s traveling on a week and a half’s notice, not the two or three days’ notice he allowed himself last time.

The 2012 trip was a clusterfuck. Although I was publishing a lot here at the time, I never really even summarized what a hellish waste much of that trip was. All told, Dad probably spent two or three thousand dollars on the trip, not counting food. He was basically driving us around Santa Cruz County in a rental car, which would have been cool if it hadn’t involved a bunch of sudden, unanticipated expenses for him and, for my part, listening to a bunch of frantic handwringing about how I was fucking up at a time when I had not a week earlier fled Oregon in desperation because Farmer Uncle had totally lost it. And now I was sitting in a Vietnamese restaurant in a strip mall in San Jose, being grilled about why I didn’t want to go to graduate school, or walking around on one beach or bit of boardwalk after another, feeling like a zombie. The First Class didn’t sing about these California experiences. Or, oddly enough, about the stuffy-ass English expatriate who got her word into a Scotts Valley free weekly about the proper salutations for addressing various British and American dignitaries (I prefer “that’s rubbish, Tony, and you know it,” but I’m not a prissy bitch who moved to Scotts Valley to lecture the Americans about these things).

So we were driving around from forest to beach to deli to botanical garden to whatever the fuck, and most of the time was too pleasant to remember vividly through the trauma of what were actually only a handful of distressing arguments. It was surreal. Most of the trip would have kicked ass if it had been better planned, e.g., not to conflict with a vineyard work crunch and involve exorbitant short-notice airfares, but the bad parts were hell on wheels for me, and I had only the fuzziest premonitions of when things might get bad again. In one of life’s paradoxes that theoretically shouldn’t be so expensive but in practice has to be, we ended up having Lord Lochforrest over when we came back through Palo Alto on our way out of town. In nearly seven years Lord Lochforrest had literally said hi to each other once over the phone. At times, I had been in tears, assuming that I’d never see him again. It was really just that we’d been out of touch, and he happened to be in Palo Alto on business that night.

Some days later, Lord Lochforrest asked my dad if I was on an SSRI and suggested to him that I get on one. My thinking was fuck no, there’s probably an underlying psychiatric condition at play here but most of what’s going on is that I just spent a week and a half being traumatized by fubar family drama. Plus I’d just seen a dear friend for the first time in seven years. I’d had more than my fill of psychiatrists and psychologists by the age of twenty, so I wasn’t inclined to usher in my thirties with more of that shit. Maybe an SSRI scrip written by an internist with no interest in psychotherapy whatsoever, but nothing more, and in the end I didn’t even get that.

Pride? Stubbornness? Yes. Self-destructiveness? A bit, and I felt bad about that, too. But given the choice between going on psychotropic medication and putting an end to the egregiously bad behavior of Stoner Aunt and especially Farmer Uncle, it was no contest. This was obviously a false dichotomy, but I could tell that my most recent recurrence of bipolar disorder would not have happened without Farmer Uncle’s meltdown and the family train wreck that followed it. I’d had sui generis depressive and hypomanic episodes before, especially in high school and college, ones in which my emotions had come unmoored from stimuli and taken on a life of their own. This was nothing of the sort. I had been freaked out by an incident of unhinged domestic belligerence that had clearly come just short of the threshold of domestic violence, then I had been repeatedly berated for mishandling my reaction to this incident and for various other failings having little or nothing to do with it.

Having spent nearly half of May either trying to calm down or being berated anew about this drama, I wasn’t steady-as-she-goes. Well no shit. I’d just fled an outburst of domestic emotional abuse because it had looked about to turn violent, and I had then been berated for not being considerate enough to my abuser and his wife to chat with them about our common troubles.

My only regret about my handling of my walkout was that when I called Stoner late the first night to tell her that I had left town and wouldn’t be returning, I refused to talk to her about what had gone wrong. Before long, I realized that I had blown a rare window of magnanimity and goodwill on her part. She had seemed humble and sincere over the phone, but I’d been too rattled to trust her, and I wanted only to let her and Farmer Uncle know that I’d gotten out of Dodge. The thing was, she had been indulging in high-frequency fits about health foods for most of the previous week, unusually peevish and imperious behavior even for her, and I was afraid that her goodwill would be fleeting. I fucked up my courtesy call to her, and I started feeling regret about it almost immediately. Then again, when I discovered that she was still in a petty snit over my departure on the Fourth of July, I could tell that my relationship with her wasn’t one that deserved my most saintly patience and magnanimity. She had been stewing in self-righteous butthurt for a month and a half. It was bizarre. I was the one who was homeless and living in a tent. When I had upset Baywatch, at least there had been a good reason for her to get upset, not that I had been butthurtful in the process of fleeing from her volatile husband. I don’t know much about what Baywatch said about me behind my back, although I understand that some of it was unpleasant, but at least she never went grudge-whoring on my ass. Neither did Grandma. There’s a reason why these virtues skipped a generation.

As far as Farmer Uncle himself was concerned, ignoring Stoner Aunt’s frankly third-party role in the blowup, I probably should have asked the police to inform him of my departure through a sort of reverse welfare check. This option didn’t occur to me until just now; I was totally fucking rattled in the heat of the moment. There would have been several advantages to involving the police. It would have been an opportunity to document erratic behavior on Farmer’s part that fell short of domestic violence but could easily have veered into domestic violence in an instant. It would have helped me establish any additional untoward behavior as part of a pattern and made it much easier for me to get a fair police or judicial hearing in the event of follow-up harassment. A police visit would have put Farmer on notice that it would be not only inappropriate but also legally risky to concern-troll me with unwanted calls to my cell phone. He tried this twice in the week after I left town; I only returned the second call because Dad had been there, and I immediately regretted it because I ended up telling him to mind his own business when he asked me where I was, upsetting us both.

I felt bad about upsetting him because I’m not a sadist, but I was dealing with a fucking wackjob who had recently put me in fear for my physical safety in the course of emotionally abusing me for reasons I couldn’t fathom, and now he was bugging me to see how I was doing. It’s quite simple: if he was concerned about my emotional welfare, he shouldn’t have ruined it in the first place by showing me such wanton emotional belligerence and instability in a combined domestic and workplace setting. If he was wondering why I wasn’t taking his calls, it was because he had been an inscrutable fucking maniac in my last interactions with him days earlier. Whether these calls were disingenuous harassment or (more likely) just emotionally volatile dipshittery intended to atone for previous emotionally volatile dipshittery, I had a real problem on my hands. His concerns or other feelings about me were immaterial. I had to refuse or cut short any unwanted phone contact from him, period. I couldn’t allow someone who had had such an epic meltdown right in front of me to bug me over the phone at a time when I was trying to shelter myself from his wild behavior.

*****

This was where the gaslighting started in earnest. Dad has repeatedly told me either that there’s no way Farmer Uncle would have gotten violent with me that afternoon or that I must have done something to provoke him. This just isn’t true. I had never in my life seen Farmer in such a state of anger towards me. It lasted for something like half an hour before he left for the farm, and from everything I could see it did not let up.

What provoked it, proximally at least, was my calling him out for being a weaselly shithead about whether or not I should put on shoes. I had asked a straightforward question, and he had given me a crooked answer. The tree pruning job he wanted done was next to a compost pile. He must have known that, but he didn’t tell me where the hell we were working until we got there. While we were having lunch with Stoner he acted like a fire had been lit under his ass to get the job done and he was going to become more and more impatient and temperamental by the minute if it were delayed. That is, I had the feeling that he’d get pissed off at me for deciding on my own to put on my boots after he had told me that I wouldn’t need them.

I couldn’t fucking win. I got pretty unpleasant myself, but this was at a time when Farmer was already starting to lose it. Telling me that I had made the decision to walk across the compost pile after he had told me explicitly that I didn’t need shoes and had made this job out to be the most time-critical one of the season was disingenuous bullshit. Going into a pressurized rage that looked like it might erupt at any moment just because I had called bullshit on him for being an asshat to me was intolerable. In a truly professional setting, as opposed to our weird quasiprofessional domestic setting, his behavior would have constituted workplace harassment or something close to it. No reputable and responsible grower or middle manager in the skilled trades would retain a line supervisor who acted like him. His attitude was the kind that could get people injured or killed on higher-stakes jobs or start a fight with subordinates in any setting. (There are, of course, many disreputable and irresponsible growers, especially on larger ranches; I’ve worked for some.)

As to the notion that I had provoked Farmer that afternoon, I had been working for him and staying with him and Stoner for most of the late winter and spring, on top of the weeks to months at a time that I had spent with them in previous years. Farmer had become visibly annoyed with me in the winery or vineyard from time to time, sometimes for good reason, sometimes just because he was an asshole. In the former situations, I had backed the hell down. In the worst of the latter, when he had gone all low-rent Socratic on me over some stupid shit on the press line where he petulantly insinuated that I had done something wrong but wouldn’t say what, I had told him, “Look, I didn’t come to Oregon to be analyzed.” He had then wandered off to fume for a bit, and save face, I guess, because it looked like he had gotten the message that I’d drive back to Pennsylvania without notice if he kept that shit up. I would have left with a clean conscience, too, because he was just being a gratuitous asshole and he knew better than to treat me like that.

I know, however, that I was pretty mellow and deferential prior to the yard work blowup. If Farmer and Stoner didn’t think that that was mellow enough or something, they said nothing, and had said nothing to me about my personality somehow being fucked up in the preceding months and years. For my part, I had said nothing to them about their vile shouting matches, mainly because I wanted to stay out of the fray, but then again, nothing that I had done around the house was on the same behavioral plane as screaming bloody murder at one’s spouse about trifling disagreements every fifteen minutes. I intended all along to get the hell out of Dodge if Farmer ever turned on me the way he had routinely turned on Stoner in the winter and spring of 2009, but I didn’t expect him to do that. Then he did, over that fucking tree branch and compost pile, and not three hours later, I had cleared all my shit out and was rolling south. The point was that it didn’t matter what I had done to annoy the two of them because Farmer had come totally unhinged and lost all sense of proportion in his dealings with me that afternoon. There had been incidents months or years earlier in which I had briefly gotten openly angry with Farmer, but I don’t think he was responding to these, and if he was, he was out of his fucking mind. Within the previous week I had done some of the most grueling to date for him, digging up and moving stones during a rainstorm to prepare a vineyard nursery bed, and he had been quite impressed. Now he was suddenly a raging petty shithead over a fucking three-minute pruning job.

There was no good explanation for this ugly turn. This was irrational, incoherent, disturbed behavior. Dad didn’t see it; I did. It was probably worse by a long shot than anything Dad had witnessed from Farmer Uncle, since it was by far the craziest behavior Farmer had ever directed my way. But I know what I saw that day, and I know that it was fucking ugly and out of control. I say that Farmer could easily have gotten violent with me because he was openly enraged and behaving erratically, having been set off by my calling bullshit on him and walked off a yard job. I feel like I’m wandering into a quagmire of subjectivity and relativism to argue that third parties shouldn’t question a person’s claims that domestic violence was imminent, but in this case Farmer was operating on one of the shortest fuses I’d ever seen with anyone, and without any identifiable stressors that could rationally give rise to that level of anger.

It was distressing and a bit offensive to hear Dad insist that Farmer would never get violent. When I stepped back beyond teh feelz and tried to look at it rationally, it was scary; Dad was making excuses for a chronic emotional abuser who had nearly gotten violent with me at home. This is some of the worst behavior possible to downplay. Conversely, it’s some of the worst behavior possible to exaggerate or make up for personal advantage, so it was something about which I would not and did not cry wolf. I can think of four other times in my adult life when I felt in greater physical danger from another person’s belligerence, and thankfully I never came to physical harm in any of them, but in all of them I came close. So, yes, Farmer’s behavior that afternoon was some of the craziest I’ve ever seen from anyone. Maybe he wasn’t actually crazed enough to get violent with me for backsassing him, but he sure looked it, and a punk has to feel lucky to give someone like that the benefit of the doubt.

*****

The most recent incident that has my dad flying out on short notice involves wanton, coldblooded emotional cruelty towards me on Farmer Uncle’s part. First, some background: I ended up homeless following the yard work clusterfuck because Farmer and Stoner wouldn’t take me back in, even though I was working on their farm again. They acted like I hadn’t put up with a whole lot of their unconscionable domestic acrimony in order to make my housing arrangement with them work and had turned into a treacherous, selfish asshole out of the blue. Their peevishness and belligerence weren’t just the ebb and flow of marriage. If their marriage is typical of anything, marriage is a morally inferior institution to divorce. And it should not have been incumbent upon me as a bystander to intervene. For one thing, I wasn’t sure that it would work, and if they (especially Farmer) had drawn me belligerently into the fray I probably would have called the police, violence and threats or not. For another, reasonable people of goodwill simply do not act like that three, four, or five times a day for days on end. They just don’t. I was caught in the crossfire between a belligerent maniac and a conniving shrew.

It was one thing for them to treat each other like that in my presence, but quite another for them to draw me into the fray by guilting me into having a conversation about their behavior. That would merely serve to give them an opportunity to make excuses for themselves, deflect blame onto me, and humiliate me for not being emotionally resilient enough to come through their marriage unscathed. If they want to back down and stop being vile, they’ll make that decision on their own without my input, and they’ve done exactly that on a number of occasions in the past. But damned if I’m going to take the blame for not having the assertiveness or ego strength to stand up to them when they were acting like total wackos and I was dependent on them for my room and board and was flying by the seat of my pants in reaction to their mutual emotional abuse. Their being abusive shitheads to each other in front of me and poisoning home life for all of us was their fault, not mine for being too much of a pussy to stand up to a couple of manipulative wackos who might have turned on me and who had a long history of going from pleasant to ugly in seconds when called out on their inappropriate behavior.

Keeping me out of it included not talking to me about it, and I appreciate that they generally refrained from adding insult to injury by trying to justify their behavior to me. Farmer Uncle fucked that up a few times in the spring of 2012 by indicating that this bullshit was how marriage was, which was a bit like Charles Cullen saying that serial murder is how nursing is, but these incidents were fairly short-lived. Farmer and Stoner have a disgusting habit of fishing for compliments for their shitty behavior, and a three-way talk about their domestic discord would have invited exactly that. The point was, either back off from the emotional abuse or don’t, but do not under any circumstances take aim at me. The yard work fuckup was the first time Farmer Uncle earnestly turned on me.

Anyway, I ended up homeless, and these fuckers started making fun of me for it and rubbing it in my face. Mind you, I was back at the farm and working again three and a half weeks after walking out on them, having barely recovered from all the drama. Now Farmer was acting all smug again, like we were buddies and he was being generous for letting me camp in squalor in his property in exchange for my doing heavy farm labor. I couldn’t very well challenge him on this because he’d probably go asshole on me for being ungrateful and causing him butthurt. As fall set in, they’d have me over for dinner and their friends would be giving me advice on staying warm in my tent on 25-degree nights, and I figured that Farmer and Stoner would blow head gaskets if I inquired about crashing with them since, you know, it’s kind of fucking cold right now.

Versions of this shit were still going on in the fall of 2013, a year and a half after the great butthurt. They must have been thinking that I should cave in and get an apartment or room in town, even though I had repeatedly told my parents that I would only be settling in California since I had no interest in relinquishing California residency or getting stuck in Oregon. When I wasn’t camping out at the farm or staying in the drafty-ass winery building, trying to stay warm with the half-rotten, waterlogged firewood he had provided, Farmer started asking me where I was staying. These questions were either tone-deaf or passive-aggressive. He and his wife had barred me from staying at their house in one of their outbursts of low-class social dysfunction, and now he was concern-trolling me over a housing problem that he had aggravated and was doing jack shit to remedy.

This brings us back to the most recent incident of deliberate emotional cruelty that I described above. I recently spent a few days suckering vines for Farmer Uncle. He started butting into my lodging arrangement again, not taking my vague and curt responses as a hint that I didn’t want to talk about it. I got upset about a bunch of things having to do with the farm, Farmer Uncle, and my troubled work history, so I called Dad to talk things over. He then called Farmer and told him not to inquire again into my lodging arrangement. Farmer held his peace the day he got the call. The second day, he asked me, very calmly and deliberately, “so, have you found a place to stay locally yet?” I went stone silent, paced around a bit, and looked back at him to see him half-laughing and half-smirking at me. I told him, “After my dad talked to you about that? Don’t fuck with me like that!” He kept laughing, then said something like, “All right, I know. It’s none of my business. I shouldn’t have asked you that. I’m sorry that I asked you where you’re staying. I shouldn’t do that. Thank you for all the work you’re doing.”

These were some of the most insincere, calculating comments I’ve ever heard him make to anyone. He was deliberately provoking me. There’s no doubt in my mind. I’m pretty sure he was also getting his jollies by defying an explicit wish of his older brother and investor just for the fun of it. He did the same thing when my parents confronted him about openly drinking behind the wheel when I was riding with him.

The next day I got a text message from Dad: “I talked to Farmer Uncle this morning. He expressed his regret that he slipped up and asked you too much about your living arrangements. I hope this mistake didn’t derail things.” The problem was that the last inquiry was no “slip-up” or “mistake.” It was deliberate as hell. When I told Dad about this, he insisted that I must be misconstruing Farmer’s intent, that I often misconstrue people’s intent and attribute nonexistent malice to them, etc. But I wouldn’t put it past Farmer at all to express false contrition for a deliberate provocation. That would be no more insincere than what he had done to me the previous afternoon–when, by the way, I had just come in from the field soaking wet after working for close to two hours in a rainstorm. He’s just the kind of lying dirty schmuck who would feign contrition because he had been too aggressive in calculatingly abusing his unpaid help and might be facing a labor crunch.

Now I’m getting shit from Dad for pulling no-call-no-shows on Farmer. But I’ve only ever done no-call-no-shows on shithead supervisors who have just poisoned the well. Farmer had been talking to my dad about putting me on payroll, but not to me, so his sick stunt the other day looks like some kind of test. He’s throwing his weight around again, and I’m disinclined to show him bottomless magnanimity. I was never there for him to test my patience or loyalty or some shit. I was never there to persevere through deliberate workplace harassment while he toyed with the idea of finally paying me, contingent upon my being enough of a supplicating bitch or assertive manly man or God knows what that has fuck-all to do with running a vineyard.

Can you imagine running a real business that way? Ignore the mooching and the excuses for not paying the help and assume that everyone is on payroll. Now, think about the owner deliberately asking his most skilled and experienced employee the most provocative question possible after being explicitly warned to steer clear of that very subject, a question that has absolutely nothing to do with core operations, and asking it at a time when there’s a backlog of time-critical work to be done.

It’s no wonder that Farmer Uncle is running his farm into the ground. His deliberately pissing me off for shits and giggles the other day is on top of his allowing Bad News Bubba to live in the shower room and Mr. Crapper to hang around the property, the two of them inadvertently luring in thieves, brawlers, and other truly unsavory characters they know from the neighborhood. It’s a managerial and social nightmare. My putting up with Farmer’s harassment and continuing to work for him would constitute moral hazard. Even if there are good reasons to stick to it–the exercise, the experience–returning to a chronic lowballer mooch in the face of deliberate, gratuitous provocation says, “Okay, buddy, I’m a servile little bitch, and you’re allowed to be as much of an asshole to me as you like without it affecting your business in the slightest.” The other way to approach it is to say, “You want to fuck our relationship up? Well, consider it fucked up. But don’t blame me for my own workplace harassment, and for the love of God don’t try to draw a moral equivalency between workplace harassment and a no-call-no-show the day after a blatantly deliberate incident of workplace harassment.”

I’m in a bad spot either way. I told Dad that I felt terrible about getting into such a codependent relationship with Farmer, and he responded with an incoherent argument that all relationships are codependent because people make tradeoffs over behavior they don’t like in order to maintain relationships with people they love. But that isn’t codependency. Codependency requires that the entanglement be pathological, as mine was with Junior Bear, or as mine still is with Farmer and Stoner and the farm. Most people don’t stoop to the level of making calculating provocations about the one subject they’ve been told not to bring up just in order to show dominance like a goddamn bull moose at rut. Most people who have any other options at all don’t, I suspect, wouldn’t put up with that sort of behavior if they became the targets.

But my professional options have been limited, in large part because I got stuck around the farm and ended up in a position in which an antisocial narcissistic blood relative was my most relevant professional reference. Thank God I finally have backup references who aren’t emotional abusers and know what the fuck they’re doing as growers and businessmen. And I’m glad that I didn’t have to list Farmer as a formal reference in order to get commercial work elsewhere, since he’s a moral embarrassment and I do not like to be associated professionally with such people. Even so, the work tends to be really sporadic.

*****

There’s another really ugly specter looming on the horizon, on top of Farmer Uncle fucking up my professional life and running a farming business into the ground on one of the best growing and marketing sites in the state because he has to be a belligerent narcissist. I’m hoping to have children, or maybe stepchildren, and I’d like to get on with it sooner rather than later. I’m 32, and I’m worried about the idea of having my first child at the age of 45 or 50. One of my worst worries about having children at this point, however, is that Farmer Uncle will intrude into their lives in an untoward way. He and Stoner are childless. Earlier in their marriage they argued about childrearing; he wanted kids, she didn’t, but they agreed to stay together and stay barren. Now he’s taking it out on me. He has a sort of honorary daughter who has told me that he used to haze her, too, and of course he’s been a raging shithead to his wife too many times to count.

But I’ll be damned if I’ll allow him to visit his evil on the next generation on my watch. I’m operating on the assumption that I’ll either have to shut him out of my children’s lives entirely or be ready to bring the full force of the law down on him at the first sign of untoward behavior. If I have children, I won’t be able to trust him around them. Look at what a thug and creep he’s been to me. I have to assume that he’ll fuck with them in order to fuck with me by proxy, and that he would be more inclined to go after my children in this fashion than after most other people’s kids because there’s so much bad blood between us and he hasn’t really, truly been able to have his way with me.

Farmer Uncle is the one who chose to stay with a woman who insisted on being barren. That’s his bed to lie in, not mine. If he thinks he fucked up by not ditching her or knocking up some chick on the side who was receptive to children, that’s his regret to nurse–on his own. I won’t be bringing children into the world or into my family in order to give him additional proxies to manipulate and abuse, and he’ll have hell to pay if he so much as tries.

I don’t entirely know how he has never become even a minor black sheep in the family. The Aliens are screwups and mooches, but they have nothing on him for immorality.

God damn it to hell. I somehow just got both of my parents stone silent and into a minor snit over brunch by complaining about how counterproductive it is for leftists to harp on the trifling malapropisms of right-wing politicians. In this case, it was over Jeb Bush’s mispronunciation of “nuclear.” I’ll grant that I wasn’t very gracious in my pushback, but it isn’t a subject that I would have raised. It’s too stupid and diversionary to be worthy of discussion, but in Soviet Bougiekistan, discussion has YOU!

At root, I don’t think this pissing match was just about whether it’s acceptable for Republican politicians to be inarticulate and whether their stumbling style of speech has fuck-all to do with their worldview or their fitness for high office, as my dad suggested by saying that Jeb’s mispronunciation “speaks to a certain inattentiveness” and that “if he’s going to have his finger on the button, he should at least be able to pronounce it.” It’s really a pissant attempt to defend the prissy sanctity of the ivory tower and all that it represents from incursions by whatever elements aren’t completely on board with the project. I describe over 90% of the country here, 99% if one really needs one’s mind blown by having the Occupy meme flipped on its head and shaken vigorously for loose change. One practical application of this pissant stand for intellectual purity is that I’m a failure to launch who still hasn’t gone to grad school and hasn’t figured out how to successfully navigave what has to be the most treacherous job market in living memory, and even so I’m willing to deviate from the Democratic Party line to defend the dignity of sub-95th-percentile intellects from the projectile condescension and creeping treachery of the bourgeois supremacist cutthroats who have hijacked the American left. I wasn’t raised to think this way. I also wasn’t raised to stay in residential motels, to sleep in my car, or to do stoop labor with white trash and Mexicans, and I’ve done all of these things.

To exactly what end would I go to grad school? One of my best friends is still working as a code monkey five and a half years out of GWU Law, and he’s still something like $160,000 in debt for the honor. That’s a top-twenty nationally ranked law school, by the way. I was pretty keen on nursing for a while, but the things health insurance companies do to patients and to the decent clinicians treating them are horrific, and if I go to nursing school now, I’ll give up a fairly pleasant, if intermittent, line of work tending grapevines to be yelled at by belligerents whose asses I’ve been sent to wipe. Whether or not the cost-benefit analysis of this tradeoff is a purely financial calculus depends on how much blood, pus, shit, piss, festering body odor, sickness, bodily decay, and patient-on-staff assault one would enjoy.

This may sound like navelgazing, but it’s actually very relevant. Grad schools are rackets, their admissions standards are punishing and pretty unforgiving of fuckups, and those who make the cut are rewarded by establishing the company of outpatient mental health cases and condescending, treacherous, socially climbing sacks of shit. This is a time when many professors’ brats will inevitably be downwardly mobile, so Boomers, the least y’all can do is to show us some fucking graciousness about it. Or give us jobs. And, yes, I mean give, as in, hey, kid, we need some stuff done tomorrow, and you look like you’re capable enough, so come by at eight o’clock. I.e., no bullshit about where honorable applicant sees himself with honorable interviewing company in five years. I’ve gotten steady work at good companies without being badgered about that kind of shit, so I know for a fact that it’s extraneous. “Why were you out of work for so long?” is bullshit, too. It’s a fishing expedition. Do you need the damn work done, or don’t you? The owner of the vineyard where I worked over the summer didn’t ask me jack shit about my work history, except for confirming that I’d done some different kinds of vineyard work, and if you’re hiring grunts on an at-will basis, you have no need to ask, either.

It’s important to understand what this mentality is. It isn’t even meritocracy per se. That vineyard was a meritocracy. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “Why haven’t you gone to graduate school?” is a simulacrum. It’s designed to mimic the form of meritocracy while entrenching the privilege of treacherous insiders to most disingenously engage in cheap posturing and shit on those beneath them on the totem pole. It rewards bad behavior, really, deeply bad behavior like calling people stupid in order to socioeconomically marginalize them.

The proles understand this. They may not be able to articulate it very well, but they get it. It registers with them in their guts. I fell through a trap door into socioeconomic marginalization with my, I dunno, 98th percentile intellect intact, and I still got shit on and pissed off by the high hats. This sort of thing can’t be pleasant for people who are less articulate, less networked, less financially backstopped than I am. It can’t inspire graciousness.

“Nucular” isn’t even a Spoonerism. It isn’t even a gaffe. The Queen’s English it ain’t, but it isn’t exactly a tongue-tied mess, either. Many people in Pennsylvania, for example, tend to drop L’s in odd places. Marylanders have a habit of mumbling like whoa. (Ironically, the rednecks on the Eastern Shore don’t. Instead, it’s the mumbly ones around Ballimer who look down on them for being country trash.) “Nuclear” is very widely mispronounced, but this doesn’t mean that the people mispronouncing it don’t understand nuclear power or nuclear bombs well enough to grok their danger. How uniformly stupid do the educated coastal elites think Republicans in flyover country are?

This won’t go well for the Democrats. It has already gone badly for them. In the midst of endlessly carping about the tongue-tied stupidity of George W. Bush, they ran two incredibly mealymouthed, sententious wonders against him: first Al Gore, then John Kerry. These people can’t possibly be sincere about their love for fine elocution when they field those two for national office and never step back to say, yeah, that wasn’t so fucking smart. Now the kingmakers are trying to install Hillary, a caustic moralizer instead of a sententious moralizer for a change. Even Obama was never as polished a speaker as Mike Huckabee, especially in extemporaneous comments.

This mad scramble to defend the English language from Republicans who mildly botch it is disingenuous, and the rank and file know it. It isn’t about intellectual vigor or thoughtful public debate or a life of the mind or any other high-minded happy horseshit like that. It’s about crudely and viciously jockeying for superiority. It’s about catching one’s opponents in inconsequential slip-ups and rubbing their noses in the dirt. It’s the kind of thing that will inevitably piss off and alienate poor and uneducated voters. If the Democrats are nasty enough to treat a governor whose father and brother were presidents so shabbily, how unconscionably will they treat high-school dropouts living in Kansas trailer parks?

The failure of emotional intelligence needed to sustain this haughty attitude is beyond me. These fuckers seemingly cannot fathom what it’s like to be less intelligent than one’s peers, less articulate, less influential, and to be shit on for it. They cannot understand how accusing populists, even insincere populists, of being of limited intelligence could ever backfire on haut bourgeois Democrats. By any reckoning of emotional intelligence or streetsmarts, they’re the dumb ones. They’re the piss-poor communicators. George W. Bush at his most syntactically garbled could talk circles around them. They were just too self-absorbed and self-important to notice.

A conspiratorial gloss on this preening linguistic superiority is that the intelligentsia really seeks only the trappings of intellectual refinement, not the substance, because the trappings are what they need to convince their employers to give them a pay raise. I.e., the brahmins are running a racket premised on an intellectual fraud. I tend to agree with this gloss, simply because it’s hard to find an alternative explanation that makes any sense as a rational strategy. Having snits about some rising tide of anti-intellectualism is easier and more effective than learning a real trade or working towards the sorts of real reform that would allow people to make a decent living without either developing 80th-plus-percentile specialized skill sets or constantly getting into gutter rumbles with the opposition over idiotic wedge issues, like some politician’s habit of making a common mispronunciation.

This is the polity that I inherit. Goddamn fuckin’ A.

Damn. Sesame Street turns out to be relevant to my life after all. I never imagined such a thing.

As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Rogers was the only person who ever had a calling to children’s television. Not coincidentally, he was one of the few children’s television personalities not to be insufferably condescending and annoying to adults, a virtue that made him tolerable for precocious children in his audience, too. In retiring, and shortly thereafter dying of cancer at a sadly young age, he made room in children’s broadcasting for an unconscionable parade of fuckheads, notably including Lamb Chop, Dora, and, forgive me for uttering the name, Barney.

One thing I’ll say for Sesame Street is that it was all right. It was overrated, but for the most part it was tolerable enough. Shrill elements on the right have complained that it unduly romanticizes city life and propagandizes youngsters against the virtues of the suburbs. Well fuck me. If the cities are in fact nothing but crackhead murders and postindustrial decay, the kiddos will become aware of this by the time they’re old enough to get their own apartments. This is why it’s hard to find a honky in Camden who isn’t a junkie. As one of the locals put it, prior to the heroin epidemic there “wasn’t no white people up in this motherfucker.”  And it’s a pretty embarrassing kind of cracker that the Walter Rand Transportation Center has been catching of late. With a crowd like that, I can forgive dude for being prejudiced, but he probably already knows that Camden attracts Whitey’s most fucked up constituents and wouldn’t take me, in my Dockers and aloha shirts, for being one of them.

Shriller elements, harder to the right, have accused Sesame Street of unduly romanticizing race relations and the intrinsic nature of black people, i.e., by suggesting that they can be trusted as neighbors. Oh dear. This is where the critique goes from Joel Kotkin having a bad day and accusing the urbanist crowd of desecrating the memory of his grandmother’s hard-knocks life in the Brooklyn tenements to intractable bigots donning bedsheets and cruising the Home Depot for rope. Again, by the time the kids are old enough to get their own apartments, they’ll be able to suss out whether the black people in their prospective neighborhoods are pretty much upstanding or harbor enough violent antisocial elements to scare a cracker into staying out of Dodge. This assumes that the kids have developed some street smarts and social skills along the way, which is a bit of a stretch in times as aggressively cocooned as ours, but is still a worthwhile baseline standard. If you raised children who are too hapless to do this, I can’t help you. I write this as someone who got polar-beared in Black Kensington during an overly sanguine Sunday night bike ride through the Badlands; I’m not naive about the intractable criminality of the black underclass. But yes, I’m sure that children will reflexively disregard anything they see on the streets with their own lying eyes that contradicts what they were taught in a television series about an eight-foot-tall version of the La Choy bird mascot carrying on full English-language conversations with a wooly mammoth.

It’s worth dwelling on the truth that many on the right wing in the United States have highly developed, florid persecution complexes. They live in a country with stratospheric black incarceration rates, often for minor drug offenses; multiple state and federal policies subsidizing rural and suburban areas at the expense of core cities; related federal policies subsidizing the most wacked-out, intransigent corners of the cracker range (think the Bundy “Ranch”) at the expense of calmer, more civic-minded, per capita and per acre more productive agricultural areas whose residents and politicians aren’t quite so shrill; unaddressed local structural racism enshrined in municipal charters, most notoriously in St. Louis County, where the Michael Brown shooting was really just the last straw in a campaign of municipal tax farming; and a number of extremely influential Christian lobbies with their own nationally syndicated publishing and broadcasting arms. In this context, Sesame Street looks less like a serious propaganda campaign than an artistic ghetto, albeit a comfortable one, to which the leftist troublemakers have been remanded so that they’ll stay out of Congress. Right-wingers scream bloody murder about how these left-leaning shows get federal funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and so on, without explaining how this funding comes close to counterbalancing, let alone negating, the effects of the mortgage interest deduction, pro forma appropriation renewals for the military-industrial-prison complex, the Defense of Marriage Act, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, generous subsidies to ungrateful latter-day Whiskey Rebellion tax cheats, the CBN/TBN/K-Love/Eagle Forum/Concerned Women for America/Focus on the Family nexus, or the refusal of higher-level governments to rein in postage-stamp rotten boroughs. They don’t explain any of this because they can’t. To do so, they’d have to admit that they have real power and agency in all levels of government and across much of civil society, and they don’t want to concede that they aren’t just a bunch of victims.

These same factions shit a brick over liberal Hollywood elites propagandizing the mass man (or, if you wish, the mass woman) through bullshit blue-pill dramas like Sex and the City and Girls. One gloss I’ve seen for youngsters’ enthusiasm for city life is that they want to ape Carrie Bradshaw and company. Perhaps in Soviet America, hologram lives in YOU! I’ve never cared for the shallow message of Sex and the City, which I find corrosive, but again, there’s a lot more countervailing propaganda than the tradcons and the truly shitheaded right-wing concern trolls will admit. It’s no less effective for coming out of Colorado Springs rather than Hollywood, and its power is buttressed by the authoritarian tendencies of its audience, e.g., parents who will never let the car radio dial deviate from K-Love, no matter how deeply the music is pulled into a black hole of suck. Both sides of this culture war are playing dirty.

By prevailing industry standards, then, Sesame Street is pretty damned honest. To understand this, think for a moment about Oscar the Grouch. Imagine living in a nice brownstone neighborhood, maybe on the Upper West Side (the Upper East Side seems awfully high-hat for the ethos of Children’s Television Workshop), and suddenly some filthy motherfucker pops up out of a garbage can in front of your house, belligerently accosting passersby before dropping back under the lid. As a television contrivance, it’s pretty entertaining, but this is precisely because it’s freaky as shit. It would probably get tiresome in real life.

The creators of Sesame Street worked in New York City during some pretty rough stretches, including municipal insolvency and the crack epidemic. It isn’t hard to see what inspired Oscar as a character. New York is crawling with disheveled bums. It has always had an intractable homelessness problem. Does Oscar romanticize the homeless? Not by much. He’s a pretty accurate sketch of a Manhattan ventilation grate wino: not likely to assault a passerby, but very likely to scream obscenities at him. Oscar is exactly the Muppet one would expect to pop out of a doorway and shout, “Oh, for God’s sake, give me a fucking quarter, you dirty bastard! Give me some fucking bus fare! I have meeting uptown tonight! Jesus Christ, you cheap Jew!” Oscar can’t be so forward on TV, pursuant to the FCC’s glorious buzzkilling obscenity regulations, but it would be in character.

This isn’t the kind of language one hears from Mr. Snuffleupagus.

Oscar the Grouch comes to mind today because, I shit ye not, Farmer Uncle has been allowing a homeless dry drunk with apparent major mental illness to live in the farm bathroom. For real. I came in this morning to take a shower, having slept in my car at the Talent rest area last night, and Bad News Bubba was sleeping on an old van bench next to the bathtub. I didn’t even see him at first, so I was startled when he stirred while I was trying to calm down his dog. Under his blanket he looked like just another pile of barnyard junk.

The dog. Fuckin’ A. At least he isn’t using her as a prop, which is a great credit to him relative to all the trustfunder twatwaffles who use mangy pit bull mixes, or occasionally Labs, to guilt the productive into supporting their panhandling habits. A pit bull-Rottweiler mix, she’s actually a really sweet dog when she isn’t in guard mode, and she didn’t get rough with me today. But she isn’t the problem per se. The problem is that her owners have left her under Bad News Bubba’s long-term boarding care, and Farmer Uncle is allowing it. He’s had to remind Bad News Bubba to keep her out of the winery rooms, but he’s letting her stay. This arrangement may last for a year and a half; her owners are, respectively, on military deployment for that duration and nursing an infant. Bad News Bubba is their casual, off-the-books employee. And now he’s boarding their dog at a property where he’s been mostly getting in the way for almost two years. The Kids are gone, and the Vegetable Man isn’t around much, so Bad News Bubba is his greatest legacy. He’s the same one who broke a five-gallon carboy of pinot noir during a bottling run after spending half an hour telling a drunken tale about how he and a “derelict bum” (it takes one to know one) had been yelling at each other at the gas station about who was responsible for that bum’s fucking dog fucking eating Bad News Bubba’s fucking rotisserie chicken.

Bad News Bubba has lately invited another buddy, whom we’ll call Mr. Crapper, to build a new outhouse at the farm. Mr. Crapper is barely any more coherent than Bad News Bubba; neither of them can follow his own train of thought like a normal person. What the farm needs is a fucking flush toilet, but what it needs is not necessarily, or probably, what it will get. This also applies to financial solvency. Over the summer one of the neighborhood al fresco alkies wandered in late at night and stole two bottles of merlot. Bad News Bubba told me that he had talked to one of the neighborhood enforcers about the burglary, and that the enforcer said he had immediately ordered the burglar to leave town upon discovering the stolen wine. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the farm hasn’t developed, or won’t soon develop, a local reputation among the down-and-out alcoholics as a soft target full of Wow Much Wines. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not invested in this shit to the tune of $15k.

I’ll say, Mr. Rogers, it is indeed a beautiful fucking day in the neighborhood.

Scatologically oriented individuals not familiar with the Pennsylvania Dutch Country (I have in mind people like Lady Kentfield) may be amazed, or at the very least pleasantly titillated, to hear that Shartlesville is a real place. It’s located on Interstate 78 between Allentown and Harrisburg. I’ve been through it a number of times.

It’s a place that, to be honest, has nothing whatsoever to do with this essay. It does, however, have a name that’s hella funny, if you’re thirteen, and disgustingly topical.

They can’t be avoided. They’re legion. You see them late in the evening at gas stations in East St. Louis, struggling to retrieve appropriate donuts from the bakery case. You see them piloting their scooters along Orangethorpe Avenue in Buena Park, opportunely stuffing another few onion rings into the pie hole just as they pass you in front of St. Pius V. There’s enough sidewalk, but not by a wide margin, because that part of the margin is theirs. Perhaps you wonder, a bit abashedly, how you can look down on them when you’re en route to Paul’s Place for an Ortega burger meal, one of the most gluttonous meals in Orange County, but it’s an impertinent question. Those who walk upright can’t help but look down on those who are scooterbound by fifty. Literally. It doesn’t help things that you’re walking close to two miles round-trip to get lunch and dude’s flying Old Glory off the back of his rig. His FICA deductions can’t be enough to pay the Scooter Store for his chair, his bus fare sure as hell won’t cover the cost of the delays OCTA suffers when he boards and alights through the center door (because OCTA’s procurement officers are the kind of dumbos who think that center-door wheelchair ramps make sense), and he’s probably on SSI, but at least he’s patriotic about being a net financial and social drain on his society. God bless America.

His kind travel by local bus. But of course. The British gutter press prefers to focus on those who buy custom pickups to accommodate their own girth, but those are outliers. As a spatial matter, there may not always be enough space to shoehorn another of the prematurely bescootered living a life of learned helplessness onto the bus, but as a legal matter, there is, because if there weren’t it would be a disability rights lawsuit waiting to happen.

These aren’t Queen’s big fat fatties. If they’re of the female perspective, BBW is a stretch, kind of like what has happened to their skin. If they’re shapely, it’s only because those beholding them have an unimaginable catholicity of taste when it comes to shapes. When I say that I like big girls, I–how can I say this?–I don’t mean that. Left to my own devices, I’d let the details go unspoken, since I’m attracted to women of various sizes and consider it rather gauche to stipulate technical specifications for my dates, but there’s a lot of size elision in the BBW community, and this is the same community that popularized “Myspace angles” and is notorious for refusing to countenance basic nuances about body size and attitude. They leave me no choice but to specify that my strong desire to spoon the living daylights out of certain self-confident, full-bodied women because they’re totally snugglable (okay, I’d bang them, too, especially if they took the initiative) does not imply a tacit desire to thus caress thoroughly insecure bathroom self-portraitists whose asses would envelop the spare tire that I carry around above a 36″ waist.

No. There’s fat, and then there’s holy shitballs I must be tripping on acid because there’s a guy at this Chinese restaurant who’s made up of all kinds of shapes that don’t exist in nature. Go figure that I ran into this guy while mildly sleep-deprived (not literally into him; I’m not sure I’d have made it back out), having just arrived in Los Angeles from Sacramento on a trip that started at 5:15 am. I was in an even worse state in East St. Louis, having driven all day from Colby, KS, on five and a half hours’ sleep; later that night, I drove the first four miles out of Brazil, IN, on Interstate 70 with just my running lights, but even so, my Civic and I made it to Indy intact. One does not simply keep a straight face around the well-rounded donut enthusiast in these circumstances.

This guy at the restaurant in Chinatown wasn’t just fat. He was cubist. He looked like something out of “Guernica,” probably a missing apartment block on the edge of town. I wasn’t trying to look at him; the waitress had seated me there, and I hadn’t had the presence of mind to check that there was no megafauna in my field of view and sit facing the other direction. Surprisingly, this guy had three fairly slender friends with him. Collectively, I’d guess that these guys weighed fifty pounds more than he did. He was Latino, as were one or two of his friends; I recall one or two of his friends being Asian, but I wasn’t paying much attention to them.

Realize that the restaurant where this scene unfolded was not a buffet; they probably would have been barred from the premises if it had been. Lunch was a la carte, and no kidding, the boys were there for lunch. Biggie didn’t distinguish himself just by his size; whenever I glanced in his table’s direction, he had a fork in hand. He ate with great gusto. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another person eat so heartily.

Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin’. The absurd pathos of it all was too much for me in my sleep-compromised state. Like a friendzoning ex in an overwrought eighties power pop ballad by Chicago, I had to look away, baby, look away. Of course I didn’t want him to see me that way; it was just common decency. I continued to steal a glance now and then when I felt an unusual degree of self-control. I stayed long enough to see his party get up and leave. To my relief and slight surprise, even Biggie up and left the table on his own two feet; I might not normally describe his manner of movement as “walking,” but for a man of his girth it was close enough. Verily, as he waddled away from lunch, he left replenished with fuel for the journey that we call life.

Throughout this grotesque scene, I felt smug in an Old Testament sort of way: Thank you, God, that I am not a woman, or a gentile, or an ass, or of a size and shape that have never been described in the Torah since we ancients simply haven’t seen such people. It was certainly a nice feeling while it lasted. Just by sheer contrast, Biggie made me figure that I had my shit together. Another thing I figured was that I’d probably make it to the Starbucks in Little Tokyo without coming into any significant intestinal discomfort. I figured I’d have to shit before long, but probably not within a half hour. Right?

Wrong. As I stood on the platform at the Chinatown Gold Line station, I felt the need to fart. Not to urgently shit; just to fart. No one else was nearby, and the station is outdoors: so far, so good. But when I cut it loose, it had that tell-tale warm, moist feeling. Oops, I realized, I think I just went poo in my asshole a little bit; I do believe I just beshat myself slightly on a fucking light rail platform. I knew that I could easily hop off at Union Station for an emergency ass-wiping, but I also knew that doing so would turn my circumstances from slightly disgusting to powerfully disgusting. I did not feel like mixing it up with disheveled crazies in a filthy restroom right then, so I held on, walked a bit more smoothly than usual through Little Tokyo, and made it to Starbucks. There I confirmed my fear: I had kept the mess off my underwear, but only through utmost discipline; as I thought, I had sharted.

It felt for all the world like karma. I gawked and snickered at Biggie, discreetly, for his uncontrolled gastrointestinal activities as a differently-sized American. Not half an hour later, I lost bowel control, discreetly, in a rapid transit station. The punishment seemed proportional to the crime, fifteen minutes of private-enough grossness for fifteen minutes of private-enough haughtiness towards an unimaginable mouthstuffer of unimaginable proportions, give or take. And it seemed appropriate that karma should come anally. It’s true of any karma, but especially so of karma for rudeness over alimentary failures of the flesh. At the one end, Biggie couldn’t keep it out, and at the opposite end, I couldn’t keep it in. It was embarrassing (for him, too, if he had any introspection), but in my case it felt instructive.

Of course, I’ll still laugh at the morbidly obese; if I’m not a slave to the sinful nature, I’m a slave to the point-and-laugh-at-the-unnatural nature. But with any foresight, I’ll do some abdominal floor exercises beforehand. Look, it’s not like I’m trim and ripped. I’m no Channing Tatum. It’d be really cool if more women looked at me more than skin deep, especially the hot ones, but I can understand why they don’t. If they looked less superficially at Biggie, say, at an autopsy or a gross anatomy lab, they’d discover that he has mad muscles; the blubber doesn’t move itself, now. A lot of us actually are ripped; it’s just hard for the superficial to see it beneath the insulation.

I’ll laugh at them, but I’ll laugh at them cautiously. We all laugh at larger-than-life Americans at our own peril. They’re among us.

Put more accurately, we are among them. If it were really our world, would the rest of us have to vacate the good seats near the rear bus door to make way for Scooter Store customers who could probably walk well enough if they tried? Would Southwest Airlines have come to grief over that passenger spillover surcharge nonsense? I think not. These things happen for a reason. We are but small, substanceless men living in a land of giants.

There are different ways to have no taste.

Previously we’ve discussed the Temple Clinger’s complaint about vain, shiftless negroes abusing government relief. Racially tinged complaints about equally shiftless negroes on Philadelphia sports teams, notably including Michael Vick, are another Temple Clinger favorite, and a few months ago he took flak from a black chick for using the term “blackscent” and subsequently invoking the defense that it has to be a real word because he heard it on TV. To quote the words of the late denier of the identifiable black American accent Johnnie Cochran to opposing counsel Chris Darden, “Nigger please.”

Returning to the Temple Clinger’s favorite subject, teh poosy, he has also been known to white-knight young women with versions of “in words of psy sexy ladies….whoop whoop whoop whoop compliment,” and to suggest using the impending Mayan apocalypse as an opportune time to tell a hottie that she “has a phenomenal body compliment,” a term that as best I can tell is nothing more than a malapropism for “damn girl, you’re hot.” Back when Sweet Thang was trying in vain to direct IM chats with him to subjects other than girls, he provided her a list of criteria for a girlfriend (spelling and punctuation paraphrased so as to be plausible): “there are three things i want in a girl 1 she has to like foot massages 2 she cant puffer the dragon 3 she has to be able to pop drop and lock it while sober correction im looking for a white girl who can pop drop and lock it while sober.” Dude was one for three for not offering up bizarre malapropisms. To translate into English: 1) Girl, I’m rubbing your feet hummana hummana; 2) No pot; 3) Whitey gotta dance to that funky music without having a load on; 3A) Yeah, I know black chicks can do that as a matter of course, but they don’t meet my exacting standards of hotness, and consequently they don’t cause me to drool in public.

The Temple Clinger is all about finding a girlfriend stat, and far from reticent about telling strange women that his search has been in vain and that they’re welcome to be his Valentines. One might think, then, that he would esteem women as something more than just pieces of ass, and perhaps he does. The thing is, openly taking such a stance just wouldn’t be edgy and hip enough; far better to propose a new aphorism for the most emotionally vacuous sort of one-night stand, “fuck ’em and chuck ’em,” being careful, of course, to bleep out the first Anglo-Saxonism, lest the Carlinian language cause offense to the sniveling. He can be a disingenuous fuck.

None of this is to say that women can’t be tasteless. One of the Temple Clinger’s hundreds of lady contacts on Facebook recently posted a profile picture in which she is shown simulating oral sex on a beer bottle. Ironically, even though she’s covered up and her stacked friend is showing mad cleavage, the latter looks significantly less trashy. If I had to choose one of the two to seduce, I’d pick Stacker; she looks like she’d be an affectionate and appreciative hookup, while Oral Laurel looks like she’d spend the romp grinding vacantly and the aftermath texting her girlfriends about what an underendowed incompetent she just shagged. She’d probably be trashier in a burqa than Stacker would be on stage at a Pensacola amateur topless dancing contest.

The Temple Clinger had some thoughts on Stacker; but of course. To wit:

TC: “Your friend is cute…”

OL: “Duh”

TC: “If she is single tell her I said hello as well”

OL: “Tell her yourself…[Link to Stacker’s Facebook profile]”

TC: “Thank you…”

Giggity.

To understand what’s wrong with this, try to imagine Susan Boyle asking John Mayer to put in a good word for her with Channing Tatum, and then hanging around with a drooling smirk while the satyr writes the heartthrob’s phone number and address down on a cocktail napkin.

The difference here (at least I think it’s a difference) is that Mayer’s the kind of guy who would indifferently let Boyle dry hump him, probably after mentioning that he had just spent six hours having high-volume intercourse with groupies, leaving him numb and drained of that Johnny Juice. I’m not completely sure that it’s a difference because there’s a slight chance that Oral Laurel and Stacker have low enough standards to put out for the Temple Clinger, ignoring the possibility that they are literally whores, in which case they almost certainly do. (The original Oral Laurel, a Cal Poly co-ed, seems to have gone for rough frat boys and been a rank amateur.) If either or both of them are ones to hook or mercy-fuck, the Temple Clinger could be in luck. Neither one has had an open freakout over his Aspie come-ons yet, so he’s doing better than usual.

By the way, I’m not adamantly against the Temple Clinger’s partaking of the white meat; it’s just that a taste of the dark meat would be more beneficial to the people he’d be less frequently bombarding with racist bullshit.

I’m really missing out on the hotties by trying to date in the tradition of Crosby, Stills and Nash, and love the one I’m with, when I really should be macking it with Mariska Hargitay. Mariska, you’re pwetty.

One GinaMarie Zimmerman, a woman of no particular consequence who is famed for her televised status-whoring, was recently fired from her non-broadcast job for referring to welfare as “nigger insurance.” Let me reiterate: the fact that this woman is a vulgar, tasteless racist is not something about which I give a rat’s ass; Jimmy crack corn, and no, massa, I doesn’t care. Racial equity will not be brought about by raising holy hell every time some two-bit asshat says something bigoted about black people. One does not simply end racism, unless one also ends policies that prey upon racial minorities, but good luck getting Whitey to give a shit about some poor kid from the ghetto getting locked up on a trifle for being involved with drugs that members of Whitey generally use and traffic with impunity.

As it happens, Ms. Zimmerman (any relation to George?) has support from one of Philadelphia’s premier Aspies:

Actually although she was wrong to say it publicly and therefore must face consequences, I see her point. Where or not more whites are on it blacks tend to abuse it more so than other races and that is why we still have debit particular in Philly where im from. Heck my city can’t pay its school system. Anyway I go to Philadelphia shoprite in Cheltenham see many black folk pay their junk food with food stamps not necessarily healthy food thus become obese for some and all while wearing fur coat and driving an escalade with spinner dubs on it. Welfare abuse has to stop and maybe that is what she meant by it…

Well then. Let’s double down on this shit. Combine a childhood spent not far over the city line from the mildly hoodish areas of Philadelphia’s far north side, undergraduate studies in the barely cocooned Ivory-Tower-in-the-Badlands precincts of Temple University, and a case of Asperger’s that makes Alien Uncle sound like Cardinal Dolan, and a public recounting of that bigoted tale is probably inevitable. We Philadelphians call it like we see it. (I’m only kind of a Philadelphian, and not much of one lately, but I’m Philadelphian enough for the current purposes.) It’s one of the reasons that many outsiders find us quite rude. In parts of the country where fake pleasantry, passive-aggressiveness and subterfuge are held ideal, we look awfully forward and brusque. So be it; the average inhabitant of these places is disturbed. (Here’s looking at you, Ashland.) The Temple Clinger, however, takes this forthrightness to the next level. It doesn’t help that he sops up depravity from weird corners of the internet for regurgitation at the next opportunity instead of hanging out with real people, getting an idea of who they are, and letting them temper with some measure of sober decency the rubbish he reads online. Nor does it matter that he’s an impulsive fat guy whose Facebook profile picture is a selfie showing him decked out in a red suit for some big pimpin’. This doesn’t make him introspective enough to stop complaining about irresponsible, obese negroes on the dole.

As I intone whenever it seems topical, there is a credible fix for this dude’s amazing dipshittery: prostitution. He needs to be civilized by whores. After reading nuttery like his comment above, however, I tend to think that the Temple Clinger more specifically needs him some chocolate lovin’. If he doesn’t have a case of the jungle fever, he should. Yes, I’m being flip and trollishly politically incorrect, but I mean it. He’ll return from these trysts with comments about black chicks that I truly cannot imagine (if nothing else, his syntax is beyond me), but he’ll also learn how to relate to black chicks one-to-one, not as hoodrat ciphers at the Shoprite. He may discover that some of his favorite whores are black people. Again, impishly though I present my case, a black hooker will kill (softly, I assume) two birds with one stone: the sexual frustration and the racial trope-mongering. All the Temple Clinger needs to do to make this happen is give one of these ladies a call, and then get his stones off with the bird.

Ladies: if this guy hires you, let me know whether you’ve ever been picked up by an even weirder honky.

There will be no apologies whatsoever for my recourse to racially and sectorally inflammatory language. Unlike Paula Deen, I take ownership of my use of racial tropes. Also unlike Paula Deen, I use them to sharpen what I consider relevant points and send the weasels running for cover, or at worst to Godwinize the discourse for shits and giggles; I do not use them to inquire about where on earth all the good house niggers have gone, and then frantically offer abjectly disingenuous apologies when cornered by those who don’t care for that retrograde Savannah planter thang.

It’s relevant language even if I’ll be working with a bunch of Mexicans and for some other Mexicans. The lead manager who hired me yesterday, a white enough fellow himself, told me that most of the white people he hires don’t last very long in the vineyards, some of them not even an hour. He seems to share my confidence that I’m not that White, and that I have a pretty good idea of the working conditions since I’ve done the same kinds of work for Farmer Uncle and I know my way around wine grapes. What he has described sounds concerted but not grueling for someone in decent shape. Thankfully, the hours aren’t as long as I had feared.

This may be the most sensible hiring process I’ve ever encountered. I called the office yesterday afternoon and asked whether the company was still hiring, then swung by at the lead manager’s invitation for a spot interview and to complete my paperwork, and left with a job offer and contact information for the lead manager and the field manager he intended to have supervise me. The lead manager called me this afternoon to tell me that the work at the vineyard where he had planned to assign me had been suspended at the estate owner’s request on account of recent heavy rain, but that he could put me on the schedule for tomorrow morning at a different vineyard where the crew is short a few hands. I’ll be reporting to a grocery store parking lot in the underbelly of the Willamette Valley wine country at 6:15 am. As underbellies go, it isn’t a bad one, but it’s still seedy and downmarket compared to the places esteemed at Alma Mater, Tried and True. Noble I ain’t.

For a victim of long-term unemployment like me, this timeline is amazing. I had a firm job offer within about half an hour of first calling the lead manager. The interview lasted less than forty minutes, most of it devoted to completing paperwork, going over company policies, and discussing technical aspects of the work. If there was any bullshit, it was undetectable, and I have a sensitive, finely tuned bullshit detector. Barely 24 hours after receiving an offer, I was on the schedule with a reporting time thirteen hours hence. This means that I’ll be on the clock less than forty hours after first contact with my new employer. There have been some glitches and eleventh-hour schedule changes in the midst of all this, but they’ve been sorted out more quickly and painlessly than many HR managers can reorient themselves for their next round of bullshit artistry. It’s refreshing to deal with someone who doesn’t get terribly hung up on mistakes but also promptly admits to and corrects them.

I’ve dealt with the opposite extreme, the kind of people who ostentatiously apologize for yawning or calling me “ma’am” because I had knocked softly but who are thoroughly nasty fuckers in every meaningful regard. In her defense, the latter lady may have been a bit mentally unstable. She sent out office-wide e-mails at all hours of the day and night, terrorized all but one of my (weirder) colleagues, and she once made unfulfillable offers to a client in a state of delirium after having pretended to work for 36 hours straight and then driven two hours to a site visit. She was also morbidly obese, with a secret stash of candy that she hid under a bunch of papers. A merely chubby colleague of hers had a hearty candy stash of his own, but he openly pulled M&M’s from a drawer and chain-popped them in front of me when he got stressed. That kind of thing passes for living in truth in the corporate workplace.

I need to be up and out six hours from now. We’ll see how it goes.

We’ll also see how it goes for Paula Deen as she tries to reassure everyone that, now, now, honey, I’m not a racist, y’all.

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