A New York Liberty Blog

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Asshole on 96th Street - Essay

(This meanders a bit, but I promise it gets somewhere by the end)

I was returning from watching Harry Potter last night when my the MTA, as they are wont to do, decided to have the 1 train run express between 96th Street and 137th Street. This is not an everyday occurrence, mind you, but enough of one that, while it’s a hassle, has not come to bother me that much. The MTA didn’t bother to announce this until we were already underway from the 96th Street Station which is annoying, but once again, not all that unusual. They’re incompetent and waste my 76 dollars a month on meaningless track work

Another passenger’s reaction, however, is what set me off for this essay. He was so upset by this change in events that he promptly called his girlfriend (or the girl he was fucking) and complained about how they were missing “all of the good stops” and that he was now “in Harlem or something". “What neighborhood is this,” “Christ, what a shit-hole,” and “I didn’t even know Manhattan went up that far” were other questions and comments he made. Quality and classy stuff he was made of, it seems.

Obviously, he was trying to draw attention to himself. He was well-dressed, young, and from his conversation, I picked up that he worked on Wall Street. He claimed he had never been this far north in Manhattan before, and then had an argument with his girlfriend about how she was being a bitch by complaining. All of this in the span of the five minutes it took for us to go less than forty blocks on a subway. He then got off and presumably went back to his shallow world, never to venture forth into "Harlem" (actually "Manhattanville") again.

My problems with this guy are obvious and multi-faceted. First, his absolute lack of knowledge concerning the make-up of Manhattan was breath-taking in its stupidity; to begin with, 96th Street isn’t even the halfway point up Manhattan. Secondly, the fact that he had never been outside of his bubble was disturbing (albeit unsurprising). And finally, and most importantly (to me, at least), that he had considered it necessary to drag his fellow riders into his astonishment, all the more surprising considering that most of the people on the subway (The Writer included) lived much further up than 137th Street.

There were several points of this that I found both amusing and ridiculous at the same time. I liked (in that I found it hilarious) that he thought of Harlem as a dirty word. I also really enjoyed his small-mindedness when it came to the actual physical dimensions of the island that he lived on, and the fact that he had never ventured further north than his apartment on 116th Street. To him, the boundaries of Manhattan were delineated by the northern frontier of Central Park, with the area beyond a wasteland of humanity. I had to think it was funny, because otherwise I would have been too ashamed to speak.

He and I are enough alike for me to feel that I have to defend my actions whenever someone like him stands up and makes an ass out of himself. Not all men are like this; not all men are ignorami who don’t want to try anything new or can’t help but reassure themselves by taking their insecurities out on others. We’re not all like this, but enough are that it would make the task of apologizing for them an all-day job if I chose to go about doing it in that fashion. I can’t do that, however, and I won’t do it; there are things that people have to deal with on their own. I am not a superhero, and he is not a supervillain.

This guy was an asshole, however, through and through, in every sense of the word. He took a minor inconvenience and blew it out of proportion. He acted in an ignorant and foolish manner to draw attention to himself and prop up his self-styled importance in the world. And he refused to acknowledge, even for a second, that anybody else’s problems stemming from this occurrence, or any other, mattered to him in the slightest. He was the center of the universe. He was suffering from this. Nobody else was a concern except for Himself. He Him He Him He. And that’s when it occurred to me: this man is emblematic of the problems that the WNBA and its teams face every day.

Every time I read a story from a Hater, it follows this exact same pattern. Most don’t watch the games (don't travel), don’t care about the people who do (insult the people who live there), and go out of their way to make people just as miserable as they are (talking on the subway as if it mattered to someone else). These rants occur with enough regularity that one could set a clock to them, and with enough similarity that they could be brought up on as academic probation for plagiarism if they were submitted to the same class in a college. In the long run, what’s it matter if the WNBA is around? Does a women’s league really hurt anybody, even in the slightest? Does insulting it make up for their lack of tact and humanity?

“Is the WNBA even still around?”

“Let’s put it on Comedy Central!”

“They’re all dykes anyway.”

Enough. Please, just shut up for five seconds and actually listen to yourselves for once. Stop being talking heads and actually develop your own opinions on matters and not act like hypocritical circus seals that bleat out some cracked tune on rubber bugles. Just leave it be.

In the end, if it were just some blowhard from ESPN, I'd be able to deal with it, but it’s not just the columnists and comedians who get laughs at the league’s expense, but the average Joe who feels threatened by women playing basketball. Rather than travel outside of their zone of tolerance, they would prefer to watch their collegefootball and keep women in Girls Gone Wild and away from a sector of life where females could succeed without having to use their physical attractiveness. Is the only way that a woman can get ahead through their bodies? According to these assholes it is.

That is what the problem with staying within a safe-zone is; it breeds contempt and fear. Comforts and laughs become walls and screams as a person busily constructs mental and physical barriers to block out the Other, That Which Threatens. While one is safe within this shelter against the outside (and outsider) that they have constructed for themselves. Nothing can touch them, or so they think, but in reality, they have built a prison for themselves, one that doesn’t really keep anything out but truly confines their emotional and intellectual growth. These people become monsters, animals, something not what they intended to be. It starts out small, and eventually, the Other becomes the Enemy, and there is no turning back, because once the Enemy is engaged, hatred is bred and if there is anything in this world that is hard to eradicate, it is hatred.

Of course, the door is always open for them to return to the real world, where everything isn’t black and white but much subtler shades of gray that, while terrifying to some, actually make a much more beautiful and interesting world, one against which a self-made penitentiary could never hope to compete. Is it so much to ask for people to step outside of their bubbles once in a while? Is it so much for people to take a chance and see something that, despite its unknown qualities, might be beautiful and different? And what’s the worst that could happen if these people go to a WNBA game? That they’re out ten bucks? At least they will have proved to themselves that they don’t like the league and could go to sleep content never to step foot inside a WNBA arena again (which would be a bonus to us, as well).

That would involve them giving up their fear, however, and their fear is what keeps them going through their whole life. Hunter S. Thompson spent his life railing against the fear and loathing that he saw eating away at the American psyche. It was these qualities, he argued, that made people do stupid and cruel things, and that to deny the chance to be a part of something different for the familiarity of the staid and cracking fa├žade of a diseased culture was a sign of absolute moral decay. I would not go so far as to agree with Thompson’s absolutes, but I dig his style; evolve beyond your simple existence, or condemn yourself to a lifetime of unfulfilled dreams and potential.

So, I urge you, the readers, to do something new yourself. It doesn’t have to be major, but take a chance and do something that you’re frightened of. Maybe it will awaken something in some dark recesses of your grey matter and you’ll never knew how you could live without this newfound discovery. Eat sushi, take a tour of Harlem, go bungee-jumping, ride a roller coaster, take in a game at a sport you hate (I’ll even get into this one and try to make it out for New York Red Bulls game). You’ll never know what you’re missing until you confront it face to face, and at least you can go to bed with the assurance that you’re not some stuffed-shirt prick from the Financial District who buys and sells cars, apartments, and women to make up for the emptiness in his soul.

It’s a long, hard road ahead if this man represents even a sliver of the American Male population. The WNBA will undoubtedly suffer at the stings and barbs of their comments for many more decades to come. But eventually, like the dinosaurs, he and his ilk will be crushed under the weight of their own inadaptability. It sucks to be stuck on the subway ride of life with these clowns, but at least we know that they’re getting off soon.

(This is a rant, and not important or nearly as awe-inspiring, but I felt that I needed to get it off my chest. There were also two Columbia girls standing in front of me who similarly complained about the same occurence but did it under their breath. Their major complaint was that they would have to actually exit the subway and deal with the people who, though they lived a dozen blocks below, they never chose to interact. You’re in college, you dumb-ass morons. Live a little and get out of your white-crust, daddy’s-little-girl world)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Annoying assholes? See sendahole.com. for satisfaction.

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