Tag Archives: get off my lawn

Can’t We Just Like Things?

If there’s one article of clothing that gets me more comments than any other, it’s my Star Wars hoodie.

The garment itself is nothing special, but something about it just seems to draw people out. I get people all the time that will scan the logo, look me in the face, and give me that knowing nod.

I even had a guy approach me in the parking lot a few weeks ago, all serious:

“Excuse me, sir?”


“May the force be with you.”

I smiled and said the only thing you can say in such situations: “and also with you.”

He then got all quizzical and asked me if my mask had a cat on it, which it did at the time, but this is not a story about how I had to wear my wife’s cat mask to the grocery store, it’s a story about my Star Wars hoodie.

Thing about Star Wars lately — as is the thing with so many things lately — is that it’s polarizing. With the new movies out, people put themselves into camps, and you’re either on team “love new Star Wars omg YAY” or “new Star Wars is 100% bad and Star Wars belongs 40 years in the past”. (For the record, I’m on team StarWarsYAY.)

And you know what? Fine. Everybody gets to have their opinion, and if the new Star Wars aren’t your thing, well, you’re wrong, but that’s ok.

But for some reason, because I was wearing my Star Wars hoodie, the guy sweeping the floor at the Kroger decided I was his buddy.

(Detour. I make no prejudgments about the guy based on the fact he was sweeping the floor at the Kroger. I myself started my working life sweeping the floor at Kroger. But I would never have done what this kid did, and for that, and that alone, I judge.)

He approaches me: “Nice sweatshirt.”

Me: “Thanks.”

“Glad to see it’s for the old ones, too, and not the new ones.”

I mean, I get he was making an attempt to be cordial, but you can see he’s made some rather large assumptions right from the go. (The first of which is that I am interested in his favorite Star Wars movie, which, no offense, but while shopping for my family’s dinner for the week, I am not.) ‘The old ones,’ he said, ‘and not the new ones.’ As if this were obvious, as if nobody could conceivably feel any other way, as if We Two Dudes are connoisseurs who know what Real Star Wars movies are and anybody who feels otherwise deserves worse than ridicule. Never mind that he’s expressing nostalgia for a thing that existed decades before he was even thought of. This is the equivalent of your eight-year-old telling you that Fraggle Rock is far superior to Muppet Babies. What the hell do you know about any of that?

But I have a special sort of disdain for the sort of person who goes all elitist about their favorite intellectual properties. So I engaged.

“Actually, I’m quite a fan of the new movies. In fact, I think The Last Jedi may be the best Star Wars movie.”

(I don’t believe this, not really — though I do quite like it and I think it’s top-3 — but this is guaranteed to bait a Star Wars Snob.)

“Are you kidding?”

“Nope, I think the new saga is great.”

A moment of silence from my new friend, who stood agog. “Even though the writers themselves said that, after the second movie, they realized they’d written themselves into a corner and wished they could re-do the whole thing?”

I don’t know if this is true, and I don’t care. “Did they? I dunno. Certainly nothing in the new movies is any worse than Ewoks.”

He’s shaking his head, now, aware how badly he’s miscalculated and trying to figure a way out of the conversation while saving face. “I just felt like we deserved better.”

Here I could have gotten on my soapbox and given a lecture to this young whippersnapper about how The World Owes You Nothing and Beggars Can’t Be Choosers but I went with a rather tame “Man, just be happy you’ve got this thing you love, and you’re getting more of it. When I was your age, we got the Prequels.”

Which is true.

It was a dark time.

He walked off shaking his head, and I did the same.

Star Wars is this weird thing, now. It used to be you could spot another fan in the wild and have a great conversation about the movies, the characters, your favorite moments.

Now even a thing so pure as Star Wars is poisoned with snobbery and holier-than-thou thinking.

Harry Potter is the same. (Ask me how I feel about my Deathly Hallows tattoo now that J.K. Rowling has become a font for ethically dubious statements on Twitter.) And so are so many things.

Can’t we just like things anymore? Isn’t it enough to see another fan and say, “hey, I love Star Wars too,” and let that be the end of it? I could’ve walked away feeling good, he could’ve walked away feeling good.

But no. It’s not enough. You’ve got to pick a favorite, and that means you’ve got to pick a side, and if you’re on the other side, you’re dumb and stupid and probably a socialist or a nazi to boot.

Man, I’m tired.

Down Under

A colleague of mine regularly parks over the lines in the parking lot.

I’d post a picture, but I wouldn’t want to be accused of internet shaming them. Suffice it to say, it’s bad enough and regular enough for me to notice it and hold a slow-burning grudge over the matter.

I mean, you park a couple inches over the line now and then … that’s one thing. But you park with the parking spot line going straight down the center line of your car, no — you either did that on purpose or you’re making zero effort at all to pay attention, either of which is absolutely unacceptable. And yeah, okay, I park in one of the hidden side lots at the school, and there’s maybe eight or nine cars back there in an 80-spot lot, so it’s not like anybody is clamoring for the spaces, or even like anybody is parking on top of each other. We all, by unspoken agreement, leave at least a space between our cars, for some reason.

But no, this coworker regularly parks over the line in flagrant disregard for society. I see you, rule-breaker. And I hate you.

But the other morning I saw said co-worker pulling in to park (over the line, as usual). Said co-worker was playing their music exceptionally loud. (Too loud, if you ask me, and I’m glad to say it in that get-off-my-lawn tone I’m getting too good at lately.) Which really should’ve made me even madder.

But they were blasting Men at Work’s Down Under, and on a list of songs it’s okay to blast in your car at my age, this one is near the top of the charts. (Not as high as Africa, of course, but we won’t quibble.)

And, hearing that music, I hated them a little less that day.

A little.

Because who can maintain a grudge when listening to that song?

Incidentally, I’d never seen the music video before, and if you haven’t, well, do yourself a favor.

Becoming the Curmudgeon

I’ve always joked that I’m going to become that old guy. You know the one. Pants a little too high on the waist. Hair in wispy explosions behind the ears. Gravelly, phlegmy voice. Shouting at the neighborhood kids, warning them off his lawn.

I hate everything, so this is a natural outgrowth, but I fear it may be closer than I anticipated.

And ironically, what’s bringing it out of me the most is day care.

I know; there’s nothing more suburban and yuppie than kvetching about your kids’ day care. To be fair, though, it’s not the day care that I have a problem with; it’s the other parents.

Our “school” hosts about fifty kids. It’s not huge, by any stretch. So it’s a comfy little building with a tiny little parking lot; about twenty spots or so, with a “pickup lane” running the gap right in front of the door.

Now, look. I’m going to preface all this by owning and acknowledging how 1st world this particular issue is, but I think, like most things, this is a microcosm for bigger problems.

This parking lot, then, of twenty spaces or so, means that there really isn’t a bad spot in the lot. At worst, you have to walk maybe fifty feet to the front door; a not at all unreasonable distance to rid yourself of your kids in the wee hours of the morning. But there’s also that pickup lane.

Now, the pickup lane is there, presumably, for people to keep their cars idling while they hop in to pick up or drop off the kids. Well and good. But at our day care, people don’t just use the pickup lane. They park right in front of the goldfingered door. So I, and anybody else unlucky enough to arrive at the same time as these hapless, bumbling SOBs, have to detour around their cars, sucking up their exhaust, just to get into the building.

And this is bullsharknado. I pay the same weekly fee as these people. My son and daughter come home with the germs that these people’s kids bring to school. My wife and I (okay, mostly my wife) bring in extra donations when the pre-k teachers send home flyers begging for them. (Seriously, my wife sent in two full-sized pumpkins. WHO DOES THAT?!) But no, I have to detour around their oversized cars for the privilege of using the front door.

Never mind that there are perfectly good parking spaces — dozens of them! — not ten feet away. Never mind that in addition to disrupting the walking traffic, I’ve seen these knuckle sandwiches align themselves like poorly-placed Tetris blocks, stopping even the other jerk stores from passing through the pickup lane until they’ve done their business inside (and they’re never walking in a hurry, either, let me point out). No, these monsters have to park right in front of the doorright across the middle of the crosswalk, and to hell with anybody who’s inconvenienced.

I mean, we’re living in a society, aren’t we? Enough people live in these cramped cities of ours that, even if you hate people like I do, you surely understand that we’re better off if we occasionally look out for each others’ well being and convenience than if we only look out for our own.

These are the people who will drive past the backup at the on-ramp, then nose in at the last possible second. The ones who will angle their shopping cart to stop and obstruct the entire derping aisle at the grocery store while they compare nutrition labels on store-brand and name-brand Cheez-its. Speaking of the grocery store, these are the ones who will blithely pay for a hundred-dollar order with a jarful of change with five customers lined up behind them, or who will stalk you in the parking lot for your space that’s fifteen feet closer to the door than the space that’s wide open a bit further down. (Man, I have a lot of rage centered on the grocery store.)

Well, I’ve had it. I’ve reached the point in my life where I’m no longer content swallowing my displeasure in favor of good manners. I thought for a bit about making up a bunch of passive-aggressive notes to stick on their windshields, but there’s something cowardly in that, and I also think that if you’re being an arsehole, you need somebody to point it out to you to your face for it to really sink in.

So, when I see these people now, I’m calling them on it.

Politely. Self-deprecatingly. But directly. “Hey. I’m not trying to be rude, but this is a crosswalk you’ve parked on.”

I say it, and I can feel that siren’s song in my gut when I do it. Get off my lawn.

I’ve done it twice, now. As nicely as I can stand. And you know what I’ve seen in the faces of the two people I’ve tried out this societal intolerance on? Confusion. They were surprised that I was saying anything to them in the first place, but more than that, they legitimately had no idea they were doing anything anybody would find objectionable. Double-takes to their cars and the crosswalk. Uneasy shuffling. To say nothing of my blood pressure shooting through the roof — me, the ever-avoider of conflict, getting face-to-face to call somebody on their stupid.

But you know what else?

They aren’t parking in front of the door anymore. And that feels good. But I know I’m also paying a price for it. The price of being disliked and grumbled about after the fact. Then again, that may be a price I’m happy to pay.

Is this my first step towards becoming the King Jerk of my neighborhood?


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