This is an original work of non-fiction written under the pseudonym Mac O'Roni. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or archive without the author's express permission.

Lifestyles of the Crass and Contagious

Mac O'Roni

Nothing pisses me off faster than rank stupidity, in all its many faces. The inconsiderate, dangerous driver. The line-budger. The ignorant. The intolerant. And this morning I came face to face with perhaps the most insidious of all stupidity, deadly inasmuch as this is a demographic that someone who has been raised on respect finds it difficult, downright impossible, to upbraid.

I’m talking about stupid old people.

There are plenty of them. Just because someone has entered what we euphemistically dub “the golden years” doesn’t mean they are automatically entitled to respect. A dickweed at twenty is quite apt, except through some miraculous awakening, to be a dickweed at eighty.

I knew it the moment I saw her. And I only knew because she was at that very moment engaging in dickweed activity—namely, pushing past a totally inoffensive woman in the sort of “get out of my way” snooty nose-in-the-air huff that always sets me off whether it happens to me or I only witness it secondhand. I felt the needle on my internal temperature gauge shooting towards the red, and took a deep breath. The needle inched back down into the green safety zone, but reluctantly. I managed to compose myself.

She was the sort of old broad who’s always got her nose in the air, but you might be tempted to think that was only because she was so damned short. I could have shot-putted her across the store one-armed, I think, and the temptation was strong. She had that puckered, bitter sort of face that some old people get whether or not they’ve lost their teeth, the sort of look that makes you think they might just be condemned for some past crime, sentenced to suck lemons for the rest of their natural lives.

She got set to pull the same maneuver on me, although I, just like the other woman in the aisle, was well to one side and there was plenty of room to pass, when I saw her do a sort of double-take and her hand went to her throat. I knew immediately what she’d seen, but thought that not even this snooty old dickweed could possibly be rude enough to make any direct comment.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…well, you know the rest.

“Is that a dog collar?” she asked, in just the sort of voice I’d been expecting; an elderly version of a horrified preppy, possibly named Buffy or Babs. The voice of someone who may well have spent their entire lives in a gated community with guards at the gates, their guns pointed outside, and the voice of someone just about anyone else would like to see in the sort of gated community with guards at the gates, their guns pointed inside.

“No, ma’am, just a necklace,” I said, striving to maintain a polite, easy manner and I believe mostly succeeding.

“I don’t…like that,” she said.

I never know what to expect of myself in such situations. Often such utter stupidity leaves me speechless, and by the time I’ve regained the faculty of thought the opportunity for cutting comebacks and righteous anger has passed. This time, though, the needle shot right past that middle-range red and into the real danger zone, where my blood reaches critical mass. At that stage, my mouth runs pretty much on automatic.

“Well then, you do have a problem, don’t you?” I said. My blood was too high for my ears to be working very well—my pulse was pounding in them, you understand—but I could swear I heard this ancient female dickweed’s earlier victim snort laughter.

The old biddy started to walk away, in a state of high dudgeon no doubt, but I grabbed the handle of her cart. It was a marvelous bit of catharsis, watching her slam into it like a brick wall. I barely even felt a tug.

“No, wait a minute. You’ve been incredibly discourteous to me. And you’ve been incredibly discourteous to this lady. Being old doesn’t give you the right to be a dickweed. [Yes, I actually said dickweed, I ascertained immediately that this was the best descriptive term in my repertoire for this particular specimen, and I stand by that decision.] Age doesn’t excuse rudeness. You’re pushy and snotty and you seem to think that your opinions should matter to perfect strangers. Well let me let you in on a little secret, darlin’, your opinions don’t mean jack shit to me, or to anyone else not in your immediate clique. If that.”

“Well, I never!” she exclaimed, still huffy, still not getting it. Ah well, I didn’t expect her to. A dickweed is a dickweed, after all.

“No, I dare say you haven’t,” I said, and let her go. She went her way and I went mine, politely past the lady further up the aisle. She grinned at me and winked. I grinned back.

Now, though, I realize I myself was really rather rude. Two wrongs don’t make a right, they say, and the blame is all on that faulty temperature gauge inside me, the one that reaches critical mass too quickly and cools off too slowly. And that part of me that really gets a kick out of going postal on someone who I think deserves it. Still, it was very rude to call her a dickweed. I think I’ll apologize.

Madam, wherever you are, I’m deeply sorry. Deeply, deeply sorry.

Deeply sorry that you’re a dickweed.