Random Sunday: Anger

picture-004.jpgThe Trader Joe´s near me has tyke-sized metal grocery carts for toddlers to push, painted in the same signature red as the regular ones. They´re really cute. The last time I was at the store they were down to one cart. According to the manager, parents are stealing them. They leave with their groceries and their kids and chuck the carts into the back of their SUVs. I´m sure if you asked those parents they would tell you they are not stealing. Hey, they bought groceries, didn´t they? They earned those carts! They (and their children) deserve them! Little metal carts for their kids are just another perk, like the free coffee.

The manager says the folks in regional management keep bugging him; this is not a problem they´re having across the country. You wouldn´t expect this in such an affluent area, would you? He´s worried they think he´s selling them on eBay or something. I told him I´d be happy to write a letter attesting to the sense of entitlement, the self-righteous greed of many of the people who live here.

I grew up in D.C., and there are things I love about this area. The museums (free!) are astonishing. Much of the area is beautiful, if you can learn to take the heat in the summer. We have lakes and rivers and miles of trails. But sometimes I want to kill five people a day. Starting with the guy behind me at the bank making impatient noises at the elderly man at the counter who is putting his money away too slowly. Next: the woman who groused at me because I was talking to the clerk while bagging my groceries at TJ´s, thus speeding up the process considerably. (You can bet she doesn´t bag). “Some of us are in a hurry!” she exclaimed to me. I didn´t say anything, I just looked at her. And if I ever look at you that way, you´ll move your toned little tennis-togs-clad body back away from me pretty quickly, just like she did, on the off chance I am infected with something nasty that I can transmit just by looking at you like that. I lived in Santa Fe for ten years, and unless you´re sporting tattooed tears I can probably take you in the mad-dogging department.

I am so sick of bicyclists I can´t tell you. I followed a man, very patiently, for several blocks down a road that is narrow and winding and full of blind curves. I stayed back a respectful distance so he wouldn´t feel like I was crowding him, and we moved along at 15mph. After awhile he pulled over to let me pass (he had room to do so) and when I did he flipped me off. This fascinates me. I am driving a car that weighs, I don’t know, 5000 pounds? Only my thyroid medication, years of therapy and my love for my family is preventing road rage. Another guy yelled at me after he ran the stop sign on his bike (I pulled out in front of him, having, you know … stopped.)

I know – everywhere has rude people. I found the man on the street in Boston to bite, sort of, no offense to Bostonians among us. New Yorkers are rude in legend and incredibly helpful in person – if you would like to know something, ask, and they´ll tell you. Just get to the point, because they are in a hurry, but they aren´t jerks about it. (Example: when you in the front of the line at the deli at lunch rush, know what you want and say it.)

When I was visit my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in their small town, I always have to recalibrate, because people are so nice it catches me off guard. I have to remember: there you say hello to strangers on the street, because not doing so is rude. Children hold the door for you (or risk being smacked upside the head by their elders). I bought cribs for the twins there years ago (cheaper) along with a bunch of other stuff, and they just carried it all to the car for me. Here: talk to a stranger in public and you are psycho. Or a tourist. There: do the same and you are normal.

We lived in Santa Fe for ten years, and there were many great things about it. One of the great things was how friendly folks were. Okay, maybe they´re a little too eager to share their alien abduction stories or what have you, but go ahead – say hi in the checkout line. Tell them you like their sandals, and before you know it you have the name of a really good massage therapist. In Santa Fe, it was never too late. I think there was absentee voting, early voting, mail voting, regular voting, handicapped voting, voting fiesta, voting on wheels, prayer voting, and after-voting emergency voting. Also, when we moved there from the nightmare of D.C. (govt´ motto: We Hurt You Because We Can) we allotted an entire day for our first attempt at getting our car inspected, new tags, and NM driver´s licenses, which could easily take you three hellish visits in D.C. We showed up at 10 a.m. at the DMV, which in Santa Fe at that time was in a strip mall. I think there were five people and a companion animal in there. We waited five minutes, long enough to fill out the form. For the “inspection” they walked around the outside of the car. Maybe we had to turn the lights on, I can´t remember. Then they gave us our new driver´s licenses. The whole thing took half an hour. I loved my photo on that particular license, because I looked like I´d won the lottery. Which, in a sense, I had.

We have family here. There´s a lot of culture here. We have good friends here. We grew up here. I try to remind myself of all of this on a regular basis. This is home. But sometimes I can´t help but wish the people were different.

Okay, let´s end on a more upbeat note. I was up walking the dog at dawn this morning. As I was standing there in the mist holding my cup of coffee, in a contemplative mood, I made a list of five things that make me happy all out of proportion to their size:

1) Buffalo china coffee mugs. Proof that God wants us to drink coffee (or at least has no serious objections). They´re even better if your collection comes used, one at a time, from yard sales and thrift stores.

2) Cool morning dew on my feet.

3) Wild blueberries from Maine.

4) Reading on the porch. 98 degrees yesterday? No problem.

5) The smells of summer: Bain de Soleil or Hawaiian Tropic dabbed over my spf60; rain on hot asphalt; tomato plants.

Note on the painting at top: The Big Cheese had my portrait painted by a Burmese artist he likes – that´s me up there. I think it´s a good likeness. I love how angry I look. My eyes are sort of Omen-like. And for those who care and who´ve asked me, why is my husband taking these extended trips to Thailand, Burma, etc.: the Cheese fell in love with Thailand almost 20 years ago when he did this spontaneous, dicey-sounding two-week courier thing to Thailand when we were young and stupid. You carry the manifest for some unspecified goods which are in the hold of a plane; yeah, suckerenjoy that notorious Bangkok prison! I have no idea whether companies still hire kids to do this, but it apparently is completely legit. Your get a free round-trip plane ticket out of it. At any rate, his love of modern art/artists now extends from Thailand to Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

  • kathleen says:

    LOL Not me! I watched it come bounding thru her backyard, over the grassy knoll, onto the golf course, barking, spittle flying all for a taste of me! I am a sweet morsel after all. By the time it reached me I was too terrified to do anything that might’ve caused it harm. Oh, and I was wearing NM’s Rose of Khali.

  • Marla says:

    Love, love, love this post. Many days (in fact today – a Monday) my thyroid medication is also one of the few things holding me back (that and the knowledge that as bad as it can be to be a lawyer, at least I can stick it to a few jerks during the day, and being stuck at the office with the free coffee and internet is better than women’s prison – actually, that part is just a guess).

    • kathleen says:

      With all due respect to you, unfortunately, it’s many of the lawyers who are jerks sticking to some poor sap who had the misfortune to cross a bigger and wealthier jerk.

      • March says:

        Oh, I dunno. We just got through several years of some ugly, tedious legal stuff, and I was very grateful for our not-especially-nice lawyers. It’s easy to hate them, but a good lawyer is a great thing when you need one. And I don’t blame the lawyers themselves for our litigious society — something about the American mindset, everything must be somebody else’s fault.

        • kathleen says:

          I do have to say that I was not particularly grateful to have some woman’s lawyer come after me to try and prove that it was in some way my fault that I got my hand stuck in the mouth of her unleashed, unconfined, 75lb dog (keeping in mind that I weigh 105). I wasn’t suing, it was the state that brought the case to court. Leaves a bad taste in ones mouth.

          • March says:

            So … what were you doing with your hand in that poor dog’s mouth? You weren’t hurting it, were you?

            Something I noticed in Europe: everything isn’t fenced off and labeled with giant WARNING signs. Like, years ago, you could go up on the roof of Notre Dame and it wasn’t fenced off, and if you walked too near the edge and fell off … well, you must be an idiot! I love all our warning labels on stuff — do not stick this pen in your eye!

          • Marla says:

            I’m in a large firm and only abuse other JDs and CPAs in business matters, so feelings are not to be taken into consideration (everyone is getting paid so they have to suck it up).

            But don’t tempt me.

            Honestly, I was forced to watch The Daily Show the other day and Jon Stewart was mouthing off on how all lawyers are evil and I just thought “defend your own tax audit, a&&hole.”

    • March says:

      Musette and I have been debating women’s prison. We’ve decided that orange is a decent color on us, but I’d swim in the jumpsuit, and the shoes are ugly. Also, what about our perfume!?!

    • Kathryn says:

      Marla, my heart honestly does go out to you as someone who is still in recovery from my brief experience of working as a lawyer almost 30 years ago. My cousin, also a recovering attorney who suffered more because he kept at it longer, likened the practice of law to skinning skunks, an olofactory metaphor that always made perfect sense to me. IMO, I might prefer prison; it seemed to do Martha Stewart some good.

      Among many things I did not enjoy about lawyering was the shrieking over-application of already very strong perfumes that other female attorneys would wear to bolster their confidence in court, along with power suits (big shoulder pads at the time) and treacherously high heels. Opium, nice enough when used with a bit of restraint but not when it’s not, was the rage in the 80’s. Women I knew who stayed in the field went on to such scents as Poison and, oh my god, Giorgio. For some reason, probably more self assurance, guys usually smelled better, especially the ones in civil practice. I am still very fond of the smell of Caron Pour Homme combined with good wool suiting. However, male criminal lawyers sometimes memorably reeked; it must have been all that testosterone amped up with cheap musk. Times have changed, I hope. Nonetheless, I would be very interested to see a thread on aggressive perfumes, who uses them, and to what effect to others and themselves.

      And now I’m wondering what scent Jon Stewart wears. I bet I would like it.

  • seagreen says:

    Hi Yr. Sassiness:
    ok: THIS dragged me from the Kingdom of Lurk—cause I grew up in Washington (DC), and I know all too well about the snarkiness factor there…

    …and I have been living in CA for the last 17 years, first in LA(yuk!!) and now in SF, where the snarkiness/Entitlement (because, let’s face it, not only should it be capitalized, but those who feel it need to refer to themselves in the first person plural) is fuggin rampant–only cloaked in a kind of crunchy (in SF) passive aggression.

    There’s this wonderful Callahan cartoon–he’s the quadraplegic cartoonist who draws with one of his big toes?–that has two panels; the first panel is titled “New York” and it shows a cab driver yelling out his window, with the solid balloon saying “F–k YOU” and the dotted balloon saying “Have a nice day” and the second panel titled “LA”, with a person in a SUV, with her solid balloon saying “Have a nice day” and her dotted balloon saying “F–k YOU!!!”.

    Gimme New York any day!

    Anyway, my favorite LA story is when I was at the gym; this was years ago, and I’d just seen Cindy Crawford walk by me in her unmentionables and I could not believe how beautiful she was, so I was sort of in shock…and I was in front of my locker when a botoxed, faux boobied, big-lippied type barreled into me (ouch!), looked at me in total repulsion (I was wearing old torn sweats and a Ramones t-shirt) and sneered: “Well, excuse YOU!!”

    As repulsive as that is, now that I’ve been in SF for so long, what I find so disturbing is that all this Entitlement IS so rampant here—in a city that seemingly prides itself in its openmindedness and in people who preach compassion and who have vegan/veggie lifestyles, do yoga daily, etc etc…unh…WTF???

    • March says:

      I love that cartoon!!! I’ve seen it. And you are so right about the San Francisco thing. I’ve only spent limited time there, but I was surprised it wasn’t friendlier. Here I kind of expect people to be jerks.

      We lived in Santa Fe for a long time, and there were many things I loved about it. But the holier-than-thou thing got on my nerves as well. What kind of positive lifestyle does that represent? /:)

  • Kathryn says:

    Very late to this discussion, I’m one of your silent readers (I hate that word lurk!} What you describe in D.C. is precisely why I finally left Boston to move back, for at least part of the time, to the wilds of Maine where I grew up. So last night, in the cool of the evening after a long, hot day in the garden, I was listening with some hard won serenity to the chorus of peepers around the pond. The calm was utterly shattered by a series of gunshots when one of our neighbors decided it was a good idea to try out his new hunting rifle at 9 Pm. A few minutes later, just to broadcast who it was disturbing the peace, he roared past in his souped up truck. Then, in not too long, he roared past again, going in the other direction. There aren’t too many places to go in a tiny town that late at night, so he was literally driving in circles, at a very loud decibel level. I don’t think he is dangerous, but he’s definitely a fool.

    The world, as my grandmother said upon occasion , is going to hell in a handbasket, not just in cities but even in rural Maine. However, on the bright side, those wild blueberries make up for a lot of annoyances. Later in the summer I’ll get to pick my own. And, as you explain so well, there is always perfume to transport us to other worlds when we need to find them.

    I’m really glad you found some beautiful new shoes, another of life’s great consolations. Thanks for your wonderful writing–it’s always good to read what you have to say.

    • Shelley says:

      Kathryn, you are wise to point out that most locations offer their own particular brand of fool to suffer. I also empathize with March’s sense that certain locales, well, have more to offer in that regard. I used to have this debate with my parents, who left a largely rural environment to live their young & middle adult years in an urban location. Now, they’re back in the sticks, and I’ve gone to an even bigger city. I’d love to be off in the woods…except it’s hard to gather up folks to play a few symphonic works on a cold winter’s night. Or a warm summer’s night, for that matter! It would have been an easier choice if I were like my Papa, who loved books and fishing and the woods. Books you can bring into the woods; clear streams and an eagle overhead aren’t so easy to import to Michigan Ave. …the Orvis store and what it attempts notwithstanding. 😉

      So, I’ve settled among idiot drivers who forget that feet were also made for walking, and huffers and puffers in check out lines. Fortunately, I’m in the midwest, so I can still get a civil conversation from a lot of strangers, and friendly waves “hello” generally generate the same gesture in response. When people get attitudinal, I just tell ’em I’m from Detroit. To harkan to a comment from an earlier post, it seems to elicit a reaction as if I am Santa Fe with a shiv. >:/

      BTW, bravo to mugs lovingly collected over time…my own are Fire King…;;) Here’s a sip with a nod to the dew on your feet. >:d<

      • March says:

        That’s the two-way pull, isn’t it? We lived out in the country for awhile after we moved to Santa Fe and I thought it was miraculous (and still only 20 minutes into town…) I loved listening to the coyotes at night, and every now and again we’d see them. The quiet was astonishing. Every now and then a hot air balloon would float by overhead, and you knew they were coming because you could hear the burners igniting for miles … oh, making myself homesick just typing that. I would move back there in a heartbeat. I miss the food so much. It’s a different kind of jerkitude, but I would readjust. 🙂

        And now I have to go google Fire King mugs! I learn something new on this blog every day.

    • March says:

      “Lurk” cracks me up. It sounds so deviant. But you can de-cloak and I appreciate it. Yep, the country — with guns and big boy toys. What a doofus, but you’re right, it comes with the territory.

      Maine blueberries ruined regular blueberries for me. I ate them until I was almost sick. They are absolutely amazing. We’re going up in a couple weeks but I am pretty sure that’s too soon. 🙁

      • Kathryn says:

        Wild blueberry season is usually the last two weeks of August, give or take. In the meantime, I’ve been contemplating the blueberry facials at the Cliff House in Ogunquit ME. On one hand there are all those wonderful antioxidants and the opportunity to have a temporarily purple face (there’s deviance for you). On the other hand, I worry that it might have a dreadful synthetic blueberry scent, which is about as bad as you can get. Still, I like their description of one of their skin products, Blueberry Mist, claiming that it leaves “the skin protected from life’s daily insults.” Possibly an antidote for the things that inspired this thread?

        • March says:

          Synthetic blueberry is just ghastly, I agree. One of those scents nobody should be reproducing.

  • Francesca says:

    Oooh, what a nice midafternoon surprise, I didn’t see this post til just now. I liked your take on New Yorkers; sure we’ll help you but make it quick.

    It seems that people all over are behaving worse and worse, and not just with intentional rudeness. Thoughtlessness!

    I think the portrait’s a good painting, but not as pretty as you are in person.

    And to make this about perfume, WHEEE I just got a beautifully-packaged bottle of Annayake Miyako from eBay.:x:x

    • Elizabeth says:

      Oh, I have been looking for Miyako that’s less than $90! Did I miss one on eBay? I haven’t even tried it yet but I know I would love it and would buy it at a good price unsniffed.

      I did just buy a bottle of Matsuri on eBay for $40 after beginning a passionate love affair with it. I am wearing it to bed each night. 😡

    • March says:

      New Yorkers have been unfailingly helpful to me. Sometimes they argue among themselves about the best way to do something. I just wait for the dust to settle.

      And I am so glad you got the Miyako. It is a lovely scent, and I think it will be like Chaos before too long — very expensive and hard to find.

  • Lucy says:

    This reminds me of the Complaint Choir. I went to a meeting last night, they are going to have one here for NYC. You submit your complaints and a composer and choirmaster work together to make a composition and you can hear them sung out by a large group. Sounds like DC needs one. They have been done all over the world. The one I have seen I liked the best was in St. Petersburg. Their complaints were pretty existential and they stomp with this spirited rhythm while they sing out their complaints. The women and men are separated in singing groups, complaining most about each other’s behavior in love relationships. In Chicago they mostly complained about the traffic. In Singapore they complained about working too much. If you’d like to check it out just Google Complaint Choirs.

    • March says:

      Lucy, thanks for sharing. That is the greatest thing. I had no idea. I get cross and then you share something that brightens my outlook on humanity. 😡

  • Lee says:

    You’re charm personified in person, March, so I can totally get why DC chill (in the stifling heat especially) can hit you in the solar plexus. Brits can also have that same frosty-frosty, but I guess generally speaking the politeness stuff is still securely there. I often chat with the checkout (wo)man, say hello to strangers in the street and try to make life sweeter for all whose path bumps into mine. Not everyone thinks the same. There are a lot of tossers out there, unfortunately. And I come across more and more of em every day…:(

    • March says:

      Tossers! I love that. And I of course was totally swayed by the general Brit charm while I visited. Although I had the uncomfortable experience of roaming Stowe-on-the-Wold when a busload of black tourists arrived by bus, and I have to say, the reception for them seemed a little frostier.

      btw I am fascinated by the new no-drinking laws on the Tube. I had no idea you could drink in there! Public drunkenness is much more acceptable there, I think, maybe connected to pub culture?

  • Gail S says:

    Oh wow, March! Remind me NEVER to mess with you :d

    We’re reputed to have a friendly population here in West Texas, but really, just like everywhere else, that’s not always the case. The old-timers are very friendly and helpful to Caucasian Republicans. Unfortunately for them, we have a rather sizeable Hispanic population (actually they’re the majority here now) so there’s a lot of grousing and grumbling about the immigration issue and tons of ill will to go around. I do happen to be Caucasian, but very definitely a Democrat so I tend to get into a number of heated disputes at times. You wouldn’t believe the venom that can spew from the mouths of sweet little old ladies and gentlemen toward that hated party >:) Ah well, it just goes to show that people are people everywhere, good and bad I guess.

    • March says:

      In NM we loved our Texans. Because they were (at least superficially) polite, gracious can-do people who threw great parties and put out a big spread. The long-timers sometimes complained, the old joke being: once the Californians arrived, everyone missed grousing about the Texans. 😉 Because in general the Californians were more gated-community and less effusive.

      I am familiar though with the kind of casual racism you can encounter in some places and it always startles me. I was a grown woman in the Midwest before I heard an adult use the n-word, and it was done as a descriptor — that was clearly the word he used for black people.

  • minette says:

    i was going to say “remember that amazing porch” but good girl, you swung back around and included it.

    i have two buffalo china “steak n shake” mugs of which i am inordinately fond, and some smaller coffee cups in different colors. nothing like the heft of the cups and thickness of the rims. you can slop liquid down the side if you don’t get your sip just right. then you gotta lick it. love that.

    my good friend lives in mclean and complains all the time about the stupid drivers up there. but you guys don’t have a lock on them, trust me. a few of them have migrated down to texas.

    with gas prices so high, lots of people here are buying motorcycles and scooters. we did a story on it and discovered that about 85% of motorcycle accidents were caused by car drivers. i’ve always said i’d ride a bike if it weren’t for the other drivers.

    • March says:

      Ooooh, Steak n Shake mugs!! I should have added that to the post: bonus points for camp logos, etc. Yours sound wonderful. And it’s funny what a personal thing that is. The Cheese HATES using those mugs, he’s a thin-edge guy. 😉 He hates the exact thing you and I love about them. My childhood memories of New York involved drinking hot chocolate in diners out of those coffee cups, sipping the whipped cream over those edges. Maybe that’s why I love them so much!

      Goodness, I hadn’t even thought about more people on motorcycles and scooters. That’s pretty terrifying.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I just posted this but I don’t see it, so here goes again…feel free to delete it if it actually is a duplicate.

    I am laughing aloud at the “filed under” category. :)) I totally hear you – I am astounded by the rudeness of people here, and I know from experience that it’s actually better than a lot of places I’ve lived on the east coast. Thankfully, the “good” people far outnumber the “bad”. I am pretty sure they aren’t stealing kid’s carts, but they sure are driving like idiots on the highway in thei huge SUVs with kids in tow. 🙁

    And I am ashamed to say it, but the MANY bicyclists here drive me nuts, even though I appreciate the good they are by not driving. If you are going to act like a car and drive in the street, you have to stop at stop signs and do other things we drivers have to do, too!!! That includes obeying stoplights, but really, does that need to be said? 😕 I guess so.

    On a positive note, people are genereally soooo much friendlier in the West than in the East. I am shocked when I fly back and go home at the fact that people don’t give strangers a smile or a hello.

    • March says:

      Hmmmmmm, wonder if you are in our spam filter? I’ll go look. Generally people are only winding up there recently if they put a link in their message, like to a perfume site. Spam is full of links to other, um, interesting places.

      Yeah, that’s the thing that chafes me about cyclists. If I’m not being a jerk in my car, at least you could reciprocate. But I don’t know…. I bet every cyclist out there has some horror stories about what idiots car drivers are, maybe they hate us with reason.

      PS Patty invented that category a long time ago, and I’ve used it more than I thought I would!

      • Elizabeth says:

        It’s happened before that I thought I posted and didn’t see the post, so maybe I am not losing my mind!! I definitely am not a spammer, I promise. 🙂

        Yes, I try to keep in mind that cyclists must be on the defensive (more like offensive around here) because of bad treatment, but it doesn’t always help.

        • March says:

          Yep, you were in our spam filter. I don’t know why. It was catching Louise for awhile. It was catching me too. We joked about it sensing our perversity.

          • Louise says:

            That wasn’t why is caught us 😕 ?

          • Shelley says:

            Just caught this sub-thread…better check me for spam, too, as I’ve had that experience around five times in the past week (and sometimes got a message from WordPress saying “looks like you already sent that message”…but it didn’t post. Zoiks!

          • March says:

            Shelley, I’ll look for you too! I am so sorry. In defense of our spam filter, it catches an ASTONISHING amount of spam every day, most of it porn but a lot of random crap. It’s a huge help, but sometimes … it loses its mind.

            Louise changed something, I can’t think what. Her computer? Her login?

            I started to lie when I typed in my email address, I used a random gmail account, it seemed to spam me more when I said I was with Verizon, but not sure that holds any water at all.

            You can always Contact Us, or try leaving another short msg, saying “yo beaches, go fish me outta the filter.” I feel bad about people typing and retyping long comments. 🙁

  • Erin T says:

    After my parents moved to the Maritimes (New Brunswick), I borrowed their car and drove it around urban Ontario. People kept tooting their horns and waving manically on major highways. I was sure my gas tank door was open or a seatbelt was hanging out or something before I realized these were other East Coasters, waving because they saw the license plate. I couldn’t believe it…

    • Erin T says:

      Oops, that was supposed to be attached to the thread started by MattS.

    • March says:

      That is so funny. I can’t imagine that happening around here! OTOH that’s not true, I accost the (very occasional) person with a car with NM plates, assuming they don’t look crazy. 🙂

  • Elizabeth says:

    I totally hear you. I am astounded by the rudeness of people here, and I know from experience that it’s actually better than a lot of places I’ve lived on the east coast. Thankfully, the “good” people far outnumber the “bad”. I am pretty sure they aren’t stealing kid’s carts, but they sure are driving like idiots on the highway in thei huge SUVs with kids in tow. 🙁

    And I am ashamed to say it, but the MANY bicyclists here drive me nuts, even though I appreciate the good they are by not driving. If you are going to act like a car and drive in the street, you have to stop at stop signs and do other things we drivers have to do, too!!! That includes obeying stoplights, but really, does that need to be said? 😕 I guess so.

    On a positive note, people are genereally soooo much friendlier in the West than in the East. I am shocked when I fly back and go home at the fact that people don’t give strangers a smile or a hello.

  • rosarita says:

    I live in small town, rural midwest US, and people can be awful here, too. I think it’s the vague idea that someone’s out to *get* us, that peculiar American fear-syndrome. Here that fear is fed by the distrust of the flood of immigrants into the midwest, rising unemployment and poverty. It’s an entirely different dynamic than the sense of entitlement that you describe, but a**holes are still a**holes, whether they’re in Trader Joe’s or WalMart.

    On another note, I love the portrait! And the little things that make me happy? Everybody grows flowers here, even if it’s just a geranium plonked into a pot. Coffee is still an affordable luxury. And the library is within walking distance and I’m reading my way through Sinclair Lewis and Boothe Tarkington novels, which are like diving into time machines.

    • March says:

      Now you have hit on an issue I can relate to. And that was pretty rampant in NM too, now that you mention it. Lots of off-the-grid types with backyard bomb shelters and theories about helicopters and stormtroopers, etc. I remember where I worked when we rolled over into the new century — our IT guy was SURE it was all going to end on that day — he had a shelter stocked with food, ammo, etc. Stayed home that day I assume with his rifle loaded. /:)

      And also, in small towns people can be more casually racist, in my experience. At least around here they have the sense to be quiet about it. /:)

      Yes, flowers! In NM everyone left Christmas lights strung up year round for outdoor parties, which I loved. Around here that would be pretty suspect.

  • Catherine says:

    Stealing carts? ooo-kayyyyy.

    I get annoyed at our city government that needs to build up the police force. We’ve been living in a shockingly, wonderfully peaceful utopia for decades, but now violence and all such things are dramatically affecting one part of town. Instead, the focus continues to be on ticketing cars. I also get annoyed at how the center of town is a constant undergraduate booze-fest that the rest of us actively avoid. Yet, here in the sweet Midwest, the privileged do not steal kiddie-carts, and bicyclists do not flick off cars (although the opposite certainly does occur). Your discussion brings to mine my (righteous, too righteous?) anger at my husband’s very wealthy family who have no concerns about ripping off people and companies whenever possible.

    But I’ve been pretty happy lately–maybe it’s just the ability to wear camisoles and skirts all day and night. Or heading out to the local bar and chatting with new and old persons. Or my husband’s increasing giddiness over Gris Clair, and the fact that my outdoor cat definitely wants to be outside, but she screams if I don’t go out with her. Love.

    Best wishes to the Big Cheese for creating good in the world.

    • March says:

      I went to college in central MO. Everywhere has its issues, but I loved being in a college town, although I’m not sure how it was for regular folks. Yes — drinking, partying, etc. But gosh people were friendly. And I remembered all that when we moved to another friendly place.

      And YES on the camis and skirts! It’s been in the high 90s for two days and I couldn’t be happier. Took the kids back to the pool today — wonderful.

  • tmp00 says:

    I sometimes really want to get Beverly Sutphin on people’s a$$es, but the thought of my friends on TV darkly intoning “we knew he’d snap one day….” keep it somewhat in check.

    I do like being able to do that look though..

    • March says:

      I try, I really do, to go through every day adding a little lightness to the world rather than taking it away. But sometimes the other folks in this city make it hard…. :)>-

  • MattS says:

    The rude and pushy folk of DC beware; the lady in that portrait is not to be ‘effed with.

    Living in the South, I’m accustomed to holding doors for and saying hello to strangers. Having a job where Southern Hospitality is a vital part of my job description, it’s even more ingrained for me. But times are changin’ everywhere. A$$holism is a national disease. I do my part to challenge it by looking strangers in the eye and SMILING. Then there’s always what I call the Country Nod-a slight tip of the head with a “How do” or “How’re you doing?” The subtle wave at passing motorists on country roads is big with me too. It’s just a simple, polite acknowledgment that we’re all here and we’re all in this together.

    • March says:

      I have a friend from Santa Fe who visits me here. She makes it her daily challenge to greet people as we are walking, passing them, facing them in the hallway, subway, whatever, just to see if she can get anyone to answer. Mostly they ignore her, or appraise her as a potential mugger. The people who respond to her hellos are probably from somewhere else.

      I love the way people in the country wave to each other. It took me awhile to figure that out. I was thinking, what are they dOING? /:)

    • rosarita says:

      My husband is a southern boy transplanted to the northern midwest. What you call the Country Nod, he refers to as “the ole go-ahead”. His mission since we’ve lived here is yours exactly – to look people in the eye and smile, with the intent of getting them to maybe smile back. Sometimes they actually do. :d The world needs more southern hospitality….

  • Louise says:

    So well stated, March. I often wonder if it’s just me-that finds myself so often pissed off by what I find abhorently (sp?) rude behavior. I also feel really lame, still expecting people to behave, em, like people. Or my expectations thereof.

    I grew up in Oregon, and it was just so normal to say hello, chat up strangers, hold a door for a child-toting parent, smile and laugh in public. I just can’t get used to the chilliness of DC. So thanks, for the affirmation.

    Funny thing is, the people who often the nicest are the natives, like you and the Cheese. I think in former times, DC must have retained a dose of Southern manners-and has now slid into a no-man’s zone of rudeness. It was more or less stated in the Kennedy years (forget by who) that DC had all the charm of a northern east coast city, and all the culture of a rural southern town. In other words…nada.

    It disturbs me that the coldness extends often to my work place. I stil am dumbfounded when a colleague ignores my “good morning”

    Fighting impoliteness with great fragrance-today wearing Nu, it’s spices protecting me from the hoards :>

    • March says:

      Back in the stone age, when I was a babe, I do recall it was a friendlier city. It was smaller and less swish and a lot slower paced. But that Kennedy quote (and I think it *was* Kennedy) about D.C. having southern efficiency and northern charm makes me wonder if things were already like that.

      I wasn’t really aware of how unfriendly folks were her until I lived somewhere else.

  • Nava says:


    Can that Burmese artist do a portrait of me? I could give you a serious run for your money in the anger department.

    While I was on my family visit in Toronto, I had to deal with similar rude behavior from strangers, and it gets worse all the time. This time around, I had the extra added stress of being followed around by police cruisers. For the past couple of years, if they spot out-of-province license plates in non-tourist areas, they follow you while they run your plate. I even got pulled over once. Years ago, Torontonians were so polite, my cousin and I used to ask for change from strangers in the mall and they would give it to us!

    In addition, I got flipped off by a totally random individual, while I was attempting to make a left turn out of a shopping centre. Much anti-American sentiment?? My family was starting to accuse me of paranoia.

    Additionally, why is it that if you shop in places like Trader Joes and Whole Foods, you tend to run into the biggest a-holes in creation? The people who shop there are the vilest, rudest creatures I’ve ever encountered.

    • March says:

      Wow, I have this delusion as Toronto being this really friendly, sophisticated place. I guess … not. And what are they worried about in Toronto? (no offense) I mean, at least on some level the paranoia of everyone in D.C. makes some sense. We had 9/11, the D.C. snipers…

      • Erin T says:

        Toronto used to be called (somewhat snidely) “Toronto the Good”. There’s certainly some of your garden-variety rudeness and snobbery here, as well as the crazies that seem to exist in every urban environment, but I still find there’s a fairly nice sense of community, and people smiling on the street, etc. (And I’ve lived in Calgary, lower mainland B.C., on the East Coast and briefly in Montreal.) There’s definitely a lot of Anti-American sentiment, though, as there is all over Canada.

        • Nava says:

          Hey, don’t blame me – I voted Democratic.

          I should put that on a bumper sticker before I cross the border. Either that or “Obama ’08” would keep me in the good graces of my Canadian bretheren, shouldn’t it? :)>-

          • Erin T says:

            Hey, Yanks are always okay with me. The anti-American thing up here is so silly – it’s that jealousy/resentment people often have for their older, more famous sibling…

        • March says:

          I’ll keep a low profile if I visit. I am ashamed to say I have never been to Canada. :”> We talked about taking the kids, but we’re no longer incentivized by the exchange rate and everyone hates us.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Good choice,Kathleen !

    March, I feel your post.
    Boston is tough- but I refuse to behave that way- even after almost 36 years here.
    It’s stunning when you visit the Midwest, or the South, and meet the Courteous…

    Love that portarit.
    Almost Modigliani-ish.

    • March says:

      Hey, it is a little Modigliani-esque, isn’t it?

      So … I’m not mistaken about Boston? They reminded me of home. :d

  • bella says:

    I loved your post. i live in San Francisco, where I grew up and people are shockingly rude! It is only getting worse.
    On another note, I really like your writing.

    • March says:

      REally?!?! I am shocked! No, seriously, isn’t San Francisco the city of brotherly love or something? I thought people would be self-righteously crunchy but friendly.

  • kathleen says:

    Appreciate the free museums now because I hear that they are an endangered species. We’ve recently moved from Mclean/Arlington and I believe that area must be the epicenter of the self centered and self absorbed. We now live in Leesburg. We were floored when we began to notice that people acknowledge your presence when they pass you on the street. Even when you haven’t been formally introduced! Even the kids say hello when they pass. Just like real people. Our thermometer on the porch actually broke 100 yesterday and is on its way there again today. And to bring this on to a perfume note, I am wearing Neil Morris Intimate Lily, which has positively bloomed in our heat & humidity.

    • March says:

      I love Leesburg! And I’d like to have a competition between residents of McLean and Chevy Chase — sort of an Olympiad of Rudeness. There would be events like: dissing the help; rude driving; ignoring the existence of others; etc. Not sure who to put my money on.

    • Molly G says:

      Leesburg *is* a great little town… much more relaxed than the burbs inside and just out of the Beltway. It’s great if you can work out there, but I don’t know how people survive the daily commute into D.C.

      My friends and I mostly live in or around the Shirlington Biosphere… and my friend Jill summed it up so perfectly by saying Northern Virginians have “an unapologetic sense of self-entitlement”. Not really sure why, but they really are some of the most obnoxious people you will ever encounter.

      March – I’ve never seen parents steal the kid carts from TJ’s… but if I do I’ll lay into them like no one’s business. That’s beyond ballsy!

      • kathleen says:

        Molly, your friend Jill is so right on the money. The Arlington/Mclean area is where we moved when we first came back to the US. We just thought it was an American attitude. Since we’ve been living in Leesburg we’ve been happy to discover that there are still civilized people around. We are lucky, and do not have to commute into DC or we would still be living in the town of “self-entitlement”. DH’s office is in Purcelville, that’s why we moved here. I’m a fitness instructor and can do that anywhere.

  • Shelley says:

    Dimwits and jerks exist everywhere, but it does seem that there are some locales in which they are more easily found. 😉 Here in the midwest, they are called many things…including this post’s file name…but I’d say there’s a balance between d-head and friendly chat. Alien abduction experiences are on the periphery…but so are the worst of the officious offenders.

    Yup, the mug collection slowly gathered is the best. Right now, I’ve got a small cluster of Fire King mugs ready to accept a pour, should you show up on the doorstep. In fact, I’d say that most collections that gather slowly over time are the best kind, my garden being a living case in point. Perfume, it seems, would be a notable exception. (Would that be “ACK!” or “tee-hee”…hmmm….:-? )

    A few more scents of summer that I love:
    * The change of temperature and scent of pines and birch that hit when you drive into the northwoods;
    * Wet bathing suits;
    * Freshly mown grass (cliche, but true);

    And beyond scent:
    * Squeals in the lake waves, or running after the ice cream truck;
    * The transition from dusk to night as you sit in a comfortable lawn chair;
    * School’s out. Forever and always an association for me, just as the thrill of school, er, office supplies will be in the fall.

    Sorry about the dipwad encounters, and thrilled about the dew on your feet. Happy Summer!