This Guy I Know

Might I be petty a while?

There’s this guy, see, he’s done me wrong, but my grievances are tiresome. I’d as soon not recount them. I’d rather just bag on him, carp on the little things. Can’t I? I want to.

So, he’s got this hair, right, this single stray hair. It’s smack in the middle of his cheek, just below the malar bone. It’s not growing from a mole, nor a straggler from his beard. It’s just…there for no reason, all curly and coarse, and it doesn’t even match. He’s white on his pate, and his beard is all yellow, then there’s this one sad black strand, and sometimes he tugs on it, and it drives me insane. Fuck that hair.

He makes a sound when he chews, like wha-wha-whawha. It’s his lips. They part with each chomp, and the air whistles in, and it’s horrid. Disgraceful. What, he can’t hear himself?

Another thing: he starts every thought with in my estimation. Well, not every thought, but a drink for each one, you’d be under the table. Sometimes, he even doubles down, like you ask me, in my estimation, or way I see it, in my estimation—Jesus! Get on with it! You could’ve said your whole bit, and the worst part, oh God! It’s not even his thoughts! He’s speaking in other people’s estimation, and you know how I know? ‘Cause we’ve read the same books.

Three times, now, I’ve corrected him on some minor matter, and he’s accused me of “womansplaining,” then dissolved in peals of laughter. Is that even a joke?

He attaches those read receipt thingies to his e-mails, and if you don’t send them back, he tries again. Several times.

He claims his dad died of blood poisoning from holding in his farts. I’m not sure that’s possible, but of this I’m quite certain: the only way this guy’ll die from his farts will be if they suffocate him.

It’s just, I understand not wanting to die, but we’re hardly on ass-ripping terms. There’s a certain etiquette, a fart code. A level of familiarity, sort of thing. Like, if you don’t know where I keep my aspirin, your assbassoon stays in its case. No—if I don’t let you wear my dressing-gown. No dressing-gown, no wind section.

This guy doesn’t even know my real name. He probably farts in front of his grandmother.

One time, I was at a funeral, and someone cut the cheese, right in the moment of silence. Everyone held it together till the end, but then these old ladies were bickering, like “hey Madge, who tooted? Was that you, that toot?”, and we dove for the car, just bursting with mirth….

Oh. I feel better now.

That was cathartic.

(Like a fart.)

26 thoughts on “This Guy I Know

  1. Does he wear cheap suits with small food stains on them and does some sort of mildly shady and incomprehensible business like selling used printers (for a pyramid scheme)?

    Don’t know why, but that seems to complete the picture perfectly.

    Some people really can’t help being farty but I’m guessing that’s the least of his sins.


    1. Ha, ha, ha. Not exactly, though the pyramid scheme bit, yeah. Yeah. He’s constantly getting involved with them. This one time, he brought Scentsy to a sketch group dinner and stunk up my WHOLE apartment. I couldn’t sleep at all that night. The smell was like a TASTE, it was so bad. I actually Googled “can you choke on a smell,” because I was getting short of breath from trying not to breathe it in. Then, I made it worse by spraying Febreze over it, with predictable results.

      The fartiness, I can forgive. I mean, farts happen. Even my mother once farted in front of me, and I was the rude one, because I yelled “EXCUSE YOU!” She gave me these wounded eyes, and she said “You couldn’t just let that go?” It’s like, anyone can let one slip, but most people go to the loo first when possible.

      It’s certain other behaviour that’s getting up my nose at the moment. I don’t even care if he sees this, because I’ve just finished telling him to his face. He knows I find him unacceptable.


      1. That was the right thing… In my experience being mercilessly direct is the only thing that works (with people you dislike but tolerate, trying to avoid them but stay polite often has the opposite effect of them seeking you out more).

        I wish annoying people were the least of my problems though, just had to take my grandmother’s husband to a hospital and waiting for eternity in corridors and dealing with bureaucracy has been extremely draining, even though everyone has been really nice and helpful (and the problem turned out to be nothing to worry about).

        I wish there were sketch groups in Haifa. There’s one in Jerusalem, but it meets only on Fridays, when travel’s impossible.


        1. Yeah. For years, I’ve been tiptoeing around this guy (we have mutual friends, and I didn’t want to alienate them or cause a rift in the group), but his behaviour has become intolerable. Besides, none of us are as close as we used to be, and at least part of that is his fault. I’m very annoyed with him today.

          I’m sorry you had a bad day. Hospitals are really the worst, even when everything turns out to be all right. It was nice of you to go with him, though. Waiting alone is twice as bad as waiting in company.

          Our sketch group hasn’t actually met up in a long time, partly because of this fucking guy, and also because most of us got busy. But this one time, he brought a woman with him, and she insisted on getting Chinese food because she was on a diet, though the rest of us wanted Greek, and then she ordered fried wontons and pork medallions, and basically the fattiest things on the menu. It was like she made up a diet just so we’d have to get the food she wanted. And she didn’t even pay for hers. (I know, I know, I’m being petty again. But I really wanted Greek food.) Another time, probably an even pettier complaint, he took off his shoes and he wasn’t wearing socks, and his feet smelt really bad.

          I’m mad at him for rather more serious reasons, though.


          1. Smelly feet is not a petty complaint. I used to share a dorm room with a guy who hoarded all his used (and extremely smelly) socks right in his wardrobe… For weeks.

            The one thing that tells exactly the kind of guy he is, is the fact that he finds “womansplaining” funny.

            Also, because of your drawing (and the “blonde” bit) I imagine him looking like an even grubbier and bearded Boris Johnson.


            1. Ewww, bairdie Borya! Just when you think he couldn’t get any worse. You know, I wondered if anyone would recognise that as Boris Johnson, though I suppose it’s rather obvious, with his horrid mop hair sweeping the Euro stars away. Political cartooning is difficult. I can see why people often just write the targets’ names on their backs. (Trump and Boris do make it easier, with the hair.)

              The worst part of the smelly feet incident is that I could see everyone trying really hard not to comment. But the minute the shoes came off, almost everyone made a sort of choking noise in their throats, and some form of grimace. Anyone with any sort of social awareness would’ve picked up on that and put their shoes back on.

              And, yeah. The “womansplaining” thing is tired, and just completely unfunny. It wouldn’t be so bad if he’d only said it once, but I swear he trots it out every time a woman corrects him on ANYTHING. I’ve even explained to him it’s only “whateversplaining” if the person actually isn’t more qualified than you are, but in every case, he’s been demonstrably wrong and I’ve been speaking from long experience.


                  1. He is creepy, but your nautilus would outstare him with his single, red, unblinking eye and make him retreat back beneath his (metaphorical) troll bridge.

                    I never understood how people can look at pictures of people like Trump and co. and think “this is a good, trustworthy person”.

                    The culinary snippet sounded so appetising that it was quite disappointing discover that it was supposed to be cannibal food porn (also mildly aghast that it was a real idea… Up there with that sitcom about Hitler living next door to a Jewish family (which did run… for one episode).


                    1. While I obviously WOULD write cannibal food porn (well, food porn in the sense of detailed, mouthwatering descriptions of food, not food porn in the sense of pornography involving food), I would not write a sitcom about Hitler living next to a Jewish family. Even I have my limits. I still want to write the cannibal book, but nobody wants to pay for it. Which, okay. I get that.

                      I think people look at Trump with his cheap suits and Johnson with his cheap haircut, and they think they’re seeing someone like them. A man of the people, sort of thing. Never mind that there are untrustworthy people in every stratum of society. Of course, neither Boris nor Trump is anything of the kind.

                      That IS quite a creepy nautilus, isn’t it? I must confess, I specifically went looking for creepy animals to draw.


                    2. Apropos earworms, I’ve just discovered that the melody that was stuck in my head for years are the opening bars to Mozart’s 40eth Symphony (you know the “ta da da, ta da da, ta da ta taa” and so on). Of course, Mozart’s work IS one of those things that you get familiar with simply by osmosis, and it’s the kind of melody that you’re likely to encounter as a snippet in a commercial or a movie scene, but it’s still pleasantly startling to finally encounter it in its context, especially since every time it started playing in my head I used to wonder where it’s from.

                      The truth is, your creepy animals are still kind of adorable, which really makes them much better than if they were just creepy.

                      You know, if you will write that cannibal book, I’d read it. Even though I’m still not sure whether it’s an awful idea or so-awful-it’s-good idea.


                    3. It’s sort of a compromise idea, in truth. I wanted to write a book about being trapped in one’s body and one’s fears, sort of a day-in-the-life thing. Ivan Denisovich without hope. But no matter how I did it, the end result was so unrelentingly bleak as to be unreadable. The cannibalism angle would allow me to write about the awful grief and loss that comes with trauma, but with this exuberant ode to food to offset the hopelessness. Some things, you can really only write about through horror. But still, nobody is currently interested in the story, so it’s unlikely I’ll write it any time soon.

                      I’m glad you placed your earworm. You know, I had something like that happen in high school. I heard a few bars of “Yesterday,” but I couldn’t make out the words. Still, those few bars stuck in my head. It wasn’t till well into my twenties that I heard it again, and knew it was from the Beatles. I’d begun to despair of ever identifying it, or of hearing the whole song.

                      I’ve always liked the whole creepy/cute aesthetic. Like “Where the Wild Things Are,” or Papageno from “The Magic Flute.” Good to know I’m not totally missing the mark.


                    4. You could always repurpose it into a short story/blogpost kind of thing though, like the dog fart story. “Unrelentingly bleak” really should be a selling point. After all what you’re selling is an experience and if it’s vivid enough, there would always be enough people to make up an audience (horror movies have it figured out as far as marketing is concerned).

                      I didn’t have “Where the Wild Things Are” back when I was a kid, but there were several books of Russian fairytales with somewhat similar illustrations (and there was also a Hieronymus Bosch artbook that proved endlessly fascinating).

                      I especially like the anglerfish and the horrible goat from the post about bees, by the way (yes, the horrible goats definitely count as cute too).


                    5. I’m not sure I could fit everything I want to say into a couple of thousand words. The dog fart story was more straightforward—besides which, I actually LIKE writing dreadful, visceral horror. Not visceral in the sense that I’d actually describe the dismemberment of a human corpse (I wouldn’t), but visceral in the sense that reading about the result would inspire a physical response in the reader. In this case, that response would be reluctant hunger.

                      Horror is rarely unrelentingly bleak, in fact. Even books with unhappy endings string the audience along with the illusion of hope throughout most of the narrative, and doing the cannibal story would allow me to do the same. Describing a real person suffering, on the other hand, presents more of a problem. Readers know instinctively when no happy ending is possible. That’s what’s happened with earlier drafts, and why I’ve been trying to sell a horror story instead.

                      You know what illustrations I really liked when I was a kid? Jan Pienkowski’s illustrations for “The Golden Bird.” Mother got me that book to shut me up on a shopping trip when I was a tot, and I still have it, all read to bits and falling apart at the seams.


                    6. Well, I still have the image of a bird pulling out a toenail in my mind, thanks to you. So you can claim some success in the “visceral” department. ☺️

                      I looked up Jan Pienkowski and can totally see his influence in your work. I wish I had some of the books from my childhood still around… Although, they’re still pretty clear in my memory, and maybe more significant as impressions rather than as physical copies.

                      I’m having “bleh” days in parallel to your “eeee” days. There’s nothing interesting happening and everything has sunk into a rut of really apalling routine that doesn’t feel like it gets anywhere (although things do get done, sort of). Everything is grey and beige. At least it’s sort of comfortable, in a staid kind of way… Like a ratty old couch that’s kinda dusty and a little stained, but still too comfortable to get up from.

                      I promise to be here and listen*, even if you just feel like grouching about everything, for what’s it worth.

                      *sometimes distractedly


                    7. In fact, your “bleh” days sound more like my “eeeeee” days than you’d think. That’s why I’m all thin-skinned and miserable: nothing is interesting at the moment. That project I was excited about fell through due to lack of funding, and I’m waking up every day, writing a new iteration of the same story, and wishing something would change. Add to that a constant red veil of pain and nausea, and I’m angry and hateful and horrible, and I can’t find anything to entertain me. I’ve downloaded and deleted dozens of games, dipped into all my favourite books, and none of it’s fun. All I want is that GOOD job back, but it’s gone, all gone, and I’m tired.

                      You know, I just realised even my mother’s stopped calling. I hope my snappish mood hasn’t been showing. Oh, probably not. She never calls.

                      I’d forgotten all about the toenail bird. Ha, ha. Funny that you should remember it. That type of imagery is normally a bit overt for me. Even in a story about cannibalism, I’d be unlikely to write anything more graphic than, y’know, detailed scenes of food preparation. The real focus would be on the two main characters, and on their mutual inability to escape their private nightmares.

                      Thanks for listening, by the way, and the same goes for you. I would listen, had you anything you wanted to say. I’m mostly just screaming my pique at the Internet, these days, because it’s kinder to yell at the void than to burden anyone in particular. So, y’know, you don’t have to assume I’m talking directly to you, or feel obliged to comfort me. Not that I don’t appreciate it, I mean, but you shouldn’t feel any sort of pressure. I can be quite petty when I’m in a bad mood. Nobody needs to pay attention all the time.


                    8. Ha, other people’s problems are almost never a burden… At least, as long as they don’t expect you to solve them. And, uh, I really don’t do anything I don’t want to do, I’m stubborn and selfish, so it’s not a question of pressure or obligation. I did pick up on the “pettiness” bit, by the way, but usually you’re self-aware (and funny) about it, so it’s not as bad as you think. Although, if we’re going to play the “I’m way worse than you” game, I think I’ll let you win (which would still make me worse than you, because who toys with their friends’ self esteem like that…). P

                      Anyway, I really do enjoy your posts, even when you are just screaming your pique at the Internet. There’s something vicariously liberating about others’ tantrums. They’re good for the soul.

                      If it gets really boring you can try calling me on Skype (although this always runs the risk of “now we’re talking in person and have no idea what to talk about” kind of situation).

                      By the way, don’t you just hate when it turns out that you used the wrong emoticon? I thought I put the normal smiling one in the above message, not the coyly blushing one it turned out to be. I never coyly blush (insert stoic manly stare emoticon here).


                    9. Ha! You’re lucky: I’m not wearing my specs. I had no idea you used a coyly blushing emoticon. Y’know, I had an editor who did that, at my last job. She used it ALL the time, and worst of all, the virtual office software we used translated all emoticons to text when it sent out e-mails, so I’d get messages like “Chapter 6 is looking good! If you could give Connor more of a Southern drawl, that would be amazing. *softly blushing*” She used that one emoticon for everything. I was never quite sure what to make of her.

                      It’s not that I’m avoiding you on Skype, by the way. I did add you back. I’m just not quite up to talking—haven’t been in a while. My throat’s a bit raw. Heartburn, sort of thing. You could talk and I could listen, but I always feel like I have to entertain whoever I’m talking to. Good manners, you know: your parents drill it into you, and you get it into your head you’ve got to be lively and engaging at all times, even when you’d rather lie and whine.

                      I used to try to hide my pettiness, but lately, what do I care? It’s just the Internet. Nobody knows who I am. I can be as embarrassing as I want. Oh, that’s mean, though, letting me win that particular game. I hate being the worst in the room. Ha, ha, ha!


                    10. Oh, she’s probably one of those people who feel the need to make everything sound as positive and upbeat as possible but inadvertently end up passive-aggressive. Because when every tiny criticism sounds like a blow that has been softened, it feels more like you’re being indirectly told that you’re screwing up all the time. It’s a thing a lot of people in positions of authority suffer from.

                      I have the same thing, by the way, the constant pressure to be entertaining and engaging. Although speaking of being the audience… I have a friend who mostly calls to update about the progress of the D&D campaign he’s running and bounce off ideas for it. He’s the one who does most of the talking and he never implements any of my ideas, but it’s a nice, comforting ritual kind of thing (we’ve been friends since high school).

                      There’s an upside to pettiness though, it automatically grants you sharp observation skills that allow you to zero in on all the tiny details of everyone and everything around. See? Maybe you won’t win the “I’m the worst game” (or you could just turn on the TV, so the worst person in the room instantly becomes Trump).

                      The guy who honked your boob probably felt rather embarrassed about it, so not bringing it up was the merciful thing to do.


                    11. Oh, right, maybe that WAS it, an odd attempt to be positive. It was so strange, though, in certain contexts. Almost indecent. I often wondered if she knew how the virtual office software was rendering her emoticons into text. I can’t imagine she wanted to be softly blushing at me all the time. Or maybe she liked keeping writers uncomfortable. Who knows, eh? Technology is the worst for that sort of thing.

                      That does sound like a pleasant ritual. I still have a couple of friends from high school, but we mostly talk on Facebook. We aren’t all that close. Though, it was funny. I was talking to one of them the other day, and I mentioned something I thought nobody knew about, and she said “Yeah, I know.” I guess I wasn’t as hard to read as I thought. Ha, ha. Maybe I’m still not. Though, I do find that people have an irritating habit of taking me at face value, thinking I’m being far more serious than I really am. This is unfortunate, as Scottish humour tends to sound a lot like complaining or fatalism to the uninitiated.

                      The worst thing about Trump is…there’ll never again be a time when he hasn’t been President of the United States. As with Rome, who thinks first of Augustus or Aurelian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius? Ask most people to name an Emperor, they’ll tell you Caligula, Nero, someone embarrassing—though, perhaps history’s been unfair on Nero, to an extent.

                      Dear God, the Dollarama appears to be on fire.


                    12. In the last few posts it’s pretty clear that you’re milking the frustration and bad mood for all the exaggerated dramatic effect they may have (which is, really, probably the only good use you can channel bad mood into), but it’s also clear that they’re very real. The “face value” thing though is almost unavoidable with black humour.

                      I think Trump will be remembered in the same way as Mussolini, as far as the level of prominence in collective memory is concerned. Unpleasant, buffoonish, thoroughly detrimental, and much less significant than the problems and ramifications he caused. No superstar factor for him.

                      Funnily enough the first Roman Emperors that come to my mind are Augustus, and Caesar, and yes, Nero. And Caesar by far is the most unpleasant of the three. He is the personification of coldly utilitarian and ruthless warmongering. Much worse than, say, Caligula, who was a creep and a psycho, but at least mostly terrorised his own court and not the world at large (at least, I don’t remember any mention of him ordering and large scale military campaigns, although maybe he did). Marcus Aurelius gets the honour of being remembered first and foremost as a writer, with the whole “emperor” thing being a negligible side gig.

                      That green smoke billowing over Dollarama was beautifully eerie. Also I like how your street is the last widely lit area, and the landscape beyond looks mostly dark, edge of civilization sort of feeling. And you get white street lamps, instead of the ubiquitously annoying acid yellow that’s practically everywhere here.


                    13. You’re quite right. My irritation is not affected at all: I really have been in a terrible mood. But the drama’s entirely manufactured. Sadly, sitting around working and feeling waspish, well…there’s no real excitement in that. It’s either hide it, play it up for all it’s worth, or become a genuine bore, droning on in my misery. Nobody wants to see that.

                      I hope Trump isn’t remembered as Mussolini is: I think the one image that sticks in everyone’s mind with Mussolini is him lying dead at the end of his reign. Much as I loathe Trump, I’d not see him murdered. I’d rather he find his way to prison. Somewhere nobody cares about him, and he doesn’t have Twitter, and he has to sit and think about how sad it is to go unheard. Ah, maybe death would be more merciful. I don’t know—maybe give him a Speak & Spell. He’d hardly know the difference. (Oh, that was unkind.)

                      You mean Julius Caesar? Yes, quite an unpleasant fellow, by all accounts, and bloodthirsty. You know, there’s a rumour that Caligula once declared war on the sea, but I seem to recall that coming down to a mistranslation of something more banal. Either way, what damage could he have done? Neptune would hardly fire back. I have to say, though, when I think of Julius Caesar, the first thing that leaps to mind is always this: “Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights. Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look: he thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.” Why that line? I don’t know. It’s a Shakespearean earworm.

                      Beyond the Dollarama, it’s all green in the daytime, just trees and rooftops all the way to the mountains. At night, it’s the great black gorge you saw. There are sparkling lights in the distance, the city climbing the foothills, but those don’t show up in a low-resolution video.

                      The Dollarama is fine, by the way. The firemen arrived pretty much immediately, and they hosed it down in minutes.


                    14. I’m not sure Trump can think. There’s an argument that solitary confinement is a much more cruel fate than a death sentence, and it’s probably true. People can go insane when isolated for decades. Personally, I don’t mind if he goes off to a lifelong vacation in Hawaii surrounded by all the luxuries the world can provide, just as long as he doesn’t affect my world. That’s the real grievance. Someone should coin “The Trump Touch” as an antithesis to Midas, everything he touches turns to shit.

                      That is a memorable quote. The interesting thing about Shakespeare that’s never emphasised is that he was also an actor (probably even before he started to write). I’d like to that his knack for writing memorable lines comes from direct experience of having to perform plays that are less than stellar, and forming the mindset that you should write plays that are fun to perform (and won’t cause any of the actors later embarrassment).

                      The latest horrible sheep is adorable. Horribly adorable. ❤️


                    15. I didn’t even notice the missing word in your comment. My brain filled it in for you. I wonder how often we correct ourselves, and no-one would’ve noticed, had we not?

                      What would you call it if everything you touch becomes invisible? I think I have that touch. The curse of going unnoticed. Well, except when I want to, of course.

                      Solitary confinement is, indeed, cruel. But if I went to prison, I think I’d try to get it anyway. If I had to choose between being confined alone or being trapped in a cell with at least one person I couldn’t get away from, I’d pick solitude. I’d have to. I’m too frightened of people to have one in the room with me at all times. I’d never eat or sleep. I’d probably die. I hope I don’t go to prison, because how do you even get solitary confinement? You can’t just ask for it, can you? You’d have to do something violent, and I don’t want to do that. What if I hurt someone? What if they hurt me? What if I only got thirty days for my trouble, and then I had to do it again, and they added time to my sentence, and the horror never ended?

                      I’d better not commit any crimes.

                      I read somewhere that Shakespeare was expected to turn out plays at quite a sharp rate, and that may have been why he made up so many words: if he couldn’t think of the right one to fit his meaning and rhythm, he’d invent one for the purpose. Who knows if that’s true, though? It sounds like someone’s theory, more than fact.

                      Sheep are so silly-looking, aren’t they? That’s what makes them fun to draw, all that fluff and those weird eyes, and their goofy bleating mouths.


                    16. Sorry about that. I just looked out the window and the Dollarama was on fire, so I had to go and check that out. They seem to have doused it now. Everyone was out there making videos, though, so I had to do it too. So as not to be left out, and all. Well. I wonder how that happened? The lights are still on, so the damage can’t be too severe.

                      As for the boob honker, yes. Yes. I think we were both quite, quite mortified. And it took him a while to finish picking up the food. I didn’t want to start a conversation. Really, what could I say? Obviously, neither of us wanted the honk to happen. Commenting could only make it worse.


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