Archive for the ‘#999 Things that Bother Me’ Category


Read above for social instruction

I’m a little late to the game on this one.  I had my memo sitting in my Palm Pre. It was only when I lost the phone that I remembered this thought about social gatherings.

We’ve all been there before:  you’re invited to a party, and get this, there’s going to be GIRLS THERE.  Douse cologne, pop collar, shine shoes, puff chest. Showtime.

You walk through the door and there are about twice as many people you were expecting, maybe 25-30 in all.  You know about 10 and the catchup is quick and easy.  But what about all the others?  Some are friends of friends, others friends of friends of friends, others generally unsociable and smelly.

New Year’s Eve.

Now I’m there (I’m switching back to the 1st person because I’m in love with myself and will always be the first person as far as I’m concerned), standing in the kitchen doorway, perusing over scraps from the seafood feast prepared not in my honour; the feast I was unable to attend due to the tiresome yet necessary evil of employment.

I'm uncomfortable already

I'm uncomfortable already

I look around.  An ocean of unfamiliarity.  Where are the people whose names I already know? I need a smooth transition here.

Mercifully a friend emerges from the other room, which is clearly the bastion of my dear known associates.

“Everyone, this is Baumer!”

He’s excited because he hasn’t seen me in a year and yes, I’m a hot commodity.

I semi-awkwardly make eye contact with those sitting around the kitchen table, sprinkling a “Hey” here, a “How’s it going?” there.

Ok, introductions mostly made.

It seems like a good time to make my way to the living room and ultimately the patio where my friends await.   Navigating my way through the crowded kitchen, disaster strikes.

Some chick emerges from the bathroom!

What do I do now? I’m already on my way out and I’d have to make a personal introduction now, my hype man is gone.

9:oo P.M. and weary from travel, I do the only sensible thing:  I ignore her entirely and exeunt is I.

I know already that I’ve made a dreadful mistake, even as I happily embrace the ladies and gentlemen that I so adore. I’ll now have to dodge that girl for the rest of the night.  A nearly irrevocable social decision.

If you ever encounter yourself in this situation, just remember the old adage: when in doubt, commit arson. People quickly forget your unsociability when they're on fire.

I proceed to be inundated with sore eyes, truly being a soothing sight, reacquainted with old friends and acquaintances alike.

As we chat and laugh and make excessive noise, more people enter the house, more people that I know not, nor do I have a strong desire to know.  There are enough people here already.

Ok, that’s mostly the end of my story and brings me to my point!

You have a point, Baumer? Occasionally, people.

Any time you’re in a social situation with new people, you’re forced to make the same old introduction, the same old summation of school and success, the same tired talk, the smallest of the small.

And you don’t have much of a choice.  You pretty much have to.  You may otherwise be branded as hostile or rude or racist or Mormon.

Listen to the penguin!

To make matters worse, if you do not engage in the trite introduction, you’ll have set a precedent that there’s no coming back from.  For the rest of the night, you’ll have to:

A) Ignore that person entirely, further

B) Avoid that person entirely, gracefully

C) Become so saturated with guilt for not having perpetuated lame social conventions that you’ll need to make that introduction, regardless, but now having to

i) Make some excuse for having ignored them

ii) Acknowledge your rudeness and blame it on your medication

iii) Accuse the person of having stolen $40 and totally topsy turvying that shit

Conclusion:  society would be far better off if everyone ignored everyone and no one talked to anyone.

No more awkwardness, just calm, silent apathy.  No small talk = no social woes = the terrorists don’t win.

And those are some things that bother me.


Orally-emitted aural agony

It seems to me that a great deal of the general populace was not in fact raised in metropolitan or urban settings; rather, a barn was the preferred environment of upbringing.

One must not stray far before encountering one of these creatures, those beasts blissfully and perhaps deliberately ignorant of some painfully necessary social customs.

Yes, friends, I speak of noises pertaining to the mouth.

We’ll get one out of the way because this is simply impossible to ignore:  loud gum-chewing.

Don't pretend like you didn't at least imagine giving this kid a beat-down.

Don't pretend like you didn't at least imagine giving this kid a beat-down.

There are two stages of gum-chewing that make both my blood and chicken soup boil.

The first stage is the loud, chomping, tongue-lashing, laterally-moving jaw-dropping nuisance.  The experience always happens when you most expect it, i.e. when you’d really prefer not to endure it, e.g. in a closed environment such as a bus, waiting in line at the bank, or while rummaging through a dumpster for chicken discards.

The second stage, perhaps most mind-numbing because it’s incidentally something I’m unable to reproduce myself, is the snapping/blowing of bubbles.

Awwww...cutie PIE!  Don't you just want to pinch those sun-damaged cheeks?  I should warn you though:  if the membrane of that gum breaks, your ass is grass, kid.

Awwww...cutie PIE! Don't you just want to pinch those sun-damaged cheeks? I should warn you though: if the membrane of that gum breaks, your ass is grass, kid.

At least with the chewing you can sometimes push it to the back of your mind and out of focus for at least a minute or two before you remember it’s there and start listening for it again.  However, the crass, piercing, obnoxious snapping and erupting of bubbles often summons my inner murderous rage that I’ve been keeping mostly under wraps while I’m on parole for attempted vehicular manslaughter (I saw some guy chewing gum at a cross walk and couldn’t help myself).

Now that that’s out of the way, we can get to the real meat of the issue…the mechanically digesting meat.

Yes, friends, family, former lovers and current haters, I speak of the heathen who chooses to not only display his current meal to unwitting observers, but also to allow those unfamiliar with the effect that saliva has on preparing food for digestion, the marvelous opportunity to listen and become enlightened.  How gloriously magnanimous of you, kind sir!

No reasonable number of dirty looks, squinted-stares, or thrown cutlery ever seems to jar this violator from his mission to inflict torture and suffering upon those within ear/eye/spit shot.

"Hey, um, I should let you know I have an 8-inch hunting knife in my bag, here.  Maybe we could work out an arrangement where all I do is dice up that delicious Granny Smith for you."

"Hey, um, I should let you know I have an 8-inch hunting knife in my bag, here. Maybe we could work out an arrangement where all I do is dice up that delicious Granny Smith for you."

There are several levels of this infraction, as well.

The first is the unavoidable, incidental violation:  loud and crunchy treats.  These can be forgiven as a matter of course because it’s simply impossible to quell or otherwise muffle foodstuffs such as chips, apples, Melba toast etc.  However, it should be noted that the aforementioned leniency may only be extended until the first bite is taken, which leads me to the next level.

Level two is comprised of one eating chips or apples, and, after having made the first, agonizing crunch, continues to munch away, lips parsed, teeth bared, war incited.

The rhythmic reverberations lay an aerial aural bombardment on your precious sense of sound.  Is this worth going back to jail for? your mind nags.  I’ll fuck him up in the parking lot instead.





Unless you start beating this child now - and I mean immediately, Pavlov wasn't kidding around - it'll grow up to be a drug addict or Republican.  Social ostracism goes hand-in-hand with loud chewing.

Unless you start beating this child now - and I mean immediately, Pavlov wasn't kidding around - it'll grow up to be a drug addict or Republican. Social ostracism goes hand-in-hand with loud chewing.

And finally, level three, the ultimate climax of such an unholy trinity:  the vermin who will chew loudly regardless of the composition of the food being tossed from one row of molars to the other.  Here we find another three levels of social defiance.  The first, lip smacking.  Second, tongue thrashing.  Third, a combination of both.

Is it really so difficult to simply close one’s mouth while eating?  You might as well be eating the rice with your hands, drinking wine through a straw, and foregoing pants at the table.

I don’t want to see, hear, or feel what you’re eating, asshole.

And those are some things that bother me.

Cute Couples

No, I’m not a hater.

I’m more of a strong disliker, irritated by the slightest of transgressions.

But I digress.

My beef is with the expression, “cute couple”.  I don’t have a particular issue with moderately attractive people who are neither gorgeous nor fugly.

“OMGz!  They are such a cute couple!  Aren’t they?!” queries your female friend.

What the hell does that even mean?  Standing side-by-side their combined cuteness increases exponentially?

Or each one of them is cute, so being together makes them a cute couple?  Wouldn’t that just be a couple of cute people?

Or are they so ugly that only their respective mothers can love them, and it’s sort of “cute” that they’re appearing in public?

My problem lies with the fact that it’s just such an empty and meaningless statement.  I’d rather hear criticisms of the girl’s boots or maybe that the dude’s sideburns are too long and he’s making both of them look bad.  But cute?

Sure, hollow and sometimes bellicose banter make the world go ’round, but cute?  Cute?

That word, too, irks my soul.  It’s not quite as bad as “cool” or “nice”, words that have lost their impact through overuse and incorrect context.

And don’t be a smart ass, pointing out “cool couples” or “nice couples”, now.

Although I suppose I’d be interested to meet a “cool couple”.  Do they live life on the edge?  Listen to Indy rock?  Shop at Holt Renfrew?

Gah, just don’t call ’em cute.

And those are some things that bother me.

Infernal Laziness: Trial by Fire

Amidst intermittent back spasms and general discomfort, I occasionally am able to fall into the blissful unconscious for several hours per evening.

Delta waves abound, I had been asleep for about an hour when the pain struck:  the shrill of the fire alarm bounced mercilessly about my apartment, through my 40 decibel-cancelling earplugs, and began tap-dancing across my aural canal.

I groaned, and contemplated my options:

1) Wait it out for a few minutes, it’s probably a false alarm.

2) Go pee, because I really have to.

3) Throw on a shirt and shorts and make the descent of shame down the 4th floor stairwell and to the front of the building.

Free showers for all!

Free showers for all!

I decided on a combination of all three.

First I waited about two minutes as I didn’t feel any raging inferno bumbling about my room.  Then again, my delightful air conditioner was cranked to 19 degrees, so most of my body was numb anyway.

Then I went to pee, because ever since I had to hold it in for about 4 hours on a bus trip through the Israeli desert, I have to go about 6 times a night now.

Finally I decided that I value my life to a moderate degree, clothed myself haphazardly, and stepped into the hallway.

Hmmm, I thought to myself.  I think I smell smoke.  Maybe it was actually worthwhile to leave my comfortable bed.  Then it hits me like a hemp sack:  someone is smoking pot.  A lot of pot.  I think I’ll still go outside.  This isn’t really the most appropriate time to introduce myself to the new neighbours down the hall, despite the aroma of hospitality.

I got outside to find about half a dozen other poor souls, half awake, fully frustrated, wandering aimlessly through the garden.

About 5 minutes go by, and maybe another 10 people or so make the exodus from the potentially burning building.

Then the firetrucks arrive.

First truck, check.

Second truck, check.

Third truck, check.

Where are the people?  Show me the people.

I glance upwards to see the idiotic dredges of humanity, hands strewn over railings, cool as soon to be roasted cucumbers.

Maybe they haven’t seen much sun this summer and are hoping for a toasty 3rd degree tan.  Or a delicious meal of smoke inhalation.

I attempt to make eye contact with a few, shaking my head scornfully in disapproval.

I go about several calculations in my head.

There are approximately 12 apartments per floor, maybe 2-3 people on average per apartment, and 21 floors.  Let’s just say for argument’s sake that there are 400 people in the building.

And I shit you not, faithful reader, but a mere 20, at most, were waiting outside the building for the all-clear from the firemen.

That’s 5%.

"Ok Billy, I'm going to take my chances here with the Xbox.  You run to saftey.  Is it getting warm in here?"

"Ok Billy, I'm going to take my chances here with the Xbox. You run to saftey. Is it getting warm in here?"

95% of the people in the building would rather take their chances that there was no fire, instead of doing the sane thing and vacating the premises.

What the hell is wrong with people?  Do they value their lives so little?  Are they truly that lazy to come down?  By the time I got back to my apartment afterwards, only 20 minutes or so had transpired between emerging from and subsequently reentering my sleeping quarters.

Was it not worth it?

Of course some jackasses pulled the alarm on the 19th floor for whatever reason, causing the hubbub and general dismay throughout the building.

But the reigning idiocy of the overwhelming populace of my place of residence is mind boggling, to say the least.

Is it going to take an actual fire with people actually dying to teach the others the lesson that a fire alarm isn’t a suggestion?

And those are some things that bother me.

Exit-way Courtesy

Hurry!  Desperate Housewives is on at 8 and you haven’t met your daily old-lady-trampling-quota yet.

Yes, we’ve all experienced it, and many have likely perpetrated it.

Maybe you’re on your way down from the top floor of your apartment building, two laundry baskets and an ammunition box of detergent in hand, the doors slide open, and it happens:  you’re not getting out!  Oh no, at least not yet.  See, the fine people outside lack the courtesy you often afford them, as they hastily make their way into the cramped elevator before you can even pick your soiled underwear up off the floor.

Oh no you di'int.

Oh no you di'int.

Or maybe you’ve been patiently awaiting another “power failure” on Toronto’s exquisitely-designed subway line, a true testament to the ingenuity and creativity of a half-dozen kindergartners and four chimpanzees.  Its well-thought out design makes it as difficult as possible to travel around the city, but at least it’s better than nothing.

But don’t get ahead of yourself, because even when you’ve reached your destination, don’t expect to depart so quickly, as the mob of aggressive citizens at the Yonge and Bloor stop have other plans for you, dear reader.

Screw "women and children first", we're comin' through, bitches!

Screw "women and children first", we're comin' through, bitches!

As the doors slide open, and you are ever so careful to “mind the gap”, pesky and pushy pedestrians force their way into the train as if you were some sort of ethereal afterthought.  But instead of getting angry or shouting, “Hey!  Could you please let me through first?”, the best way of handling the affair is to simply walk straight through, shoulders abroad, incidental contact both expected and welcome.

Bring it.

Perhaps the general populace has witnessed the epic tear-fest Titanic far too many times, believing there to be only a finite amount of space available before the weakest are thrown into the shark-infested trenches of the Toronto underground.

Or maybe people just need to learn some manners.

Oh, and also, when you’re walking – on the street, in the hall, in the supermarket – stay to the right!  If I wanted a sinister confrontation I’d journey across the pond and take on the Redcoats myself, thank you.

And those are some things that bother me.

Entrance-way Courtesy

I’m walking really fast.

Not because I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, but because just like I tell the cops when I get pulled over, I’m just going the flow of traffic.

And everyone is in such a god damned hurry.

Creepy, but necessary for sustaining the integrity of our societal values and norms.

Creepy, but necessary for sustaining the integrity of our societal values and norms.

But no matter how swift my strides, how jiggy my jaunt, I’ll always summon my rudimentary understanding of the laws of momentum, expend extra energy to slow and stop my moving body, reverse direction entirely, reach back, and – you guessed it – hold that door open for the person behind me.

I don’t do it for a thank you.  I don’t do it because you’re good looking and my ingrained chivalrous nature ignites then contracts the muscles in my arm.  Nay, I do it because it’s a nice thing to do.

But shit, son, it sure would be nice if you did say thank you.

You need to learn how to swim, eventually, sweetie.

You need to learn how to swim, eventually, sweetie.

And more often than not, a gracious smile or utterance of gratuity is, in fact, offered in exchange for my ever-so-slight extra energy expenditure.

I could live without the thanks, as being such an awesome and incredible human being on a daily basis constantly commands respect and rejoice which I strangely do not receive, but then there are those who won’t return the courtesy.

You know who you are.

No, really, that’s ok, I’m sure your peripheral vision is working just fine, and you more than noticed my fast approach behind you as we both neared the same door.  But thankfully you’re in an extra altruistic mood today, and I have a devastating contusion deficit on my face, so walking into that closing door is just what I needed to make my day complete.

Thank you.

Please kick me in the ass on your way through.

Please kick me in the ass on your way through.

Or maybe you stare at the enchanting dried gum on the elevator floor, conspicuously ignoring my encroachment of the slowly closing elevator doors.  Please, I insist, do not disengage the infrared beam that would cease the closing of the doors; I’d be more than happy to wait five minutes for the next one.

Finally, there is you, my fair lady, the poacher who aims to really get my goat – whilst my chivalry is tied to my good nature, you have the expectation that the door will be held open, thusly voiding any responsibility for thanking me.  Go bake me a pie or something.

And those are some things that bother me.

Talking when silence is the generally accepted convention

You know what I’m talking about.

Those people who feel it necessary to speaky when there should be no speaky.

#1: At the movies.


Ma'am, the kleenex in your bra, is that from an outside establishment?

Ma'am, the kleenex in your bra, is that from an outside establishment?

“Is he with them?  I thought he was a good guy…but why did he shoot that chick?  She was a dude?  So why did he shoot him?  He didn’t?  …What’s a diorama?”

Save the chat for your post-movie gelato, jackass, I can’t hear the hugely engaging dialogue over your inane gobbledygook.


#2:  In the library.


Cute?  Yes.  Punchable?  Also yes.

Cute? Yes. Punchable? Also yes.

This is sort of self-explanatory, unless of course you’ve been to Weldon Library at the University of Western Ontario.   More a conglomeration of a social gathering place, cafeteria, and entertainment repository, the books and research materials act as a benign afterthought to actual academia.

If you’ve come here to study, well, good luck with that.

There seems to be some sort of unspoken, agreed-upon consensus among any who enter that anything except quiet study is not only acceptable but mandatory.

“Please do not eat” signs are used as napkins, meek librarians begging for quiet are promptly blasted with shotguns, and students are often found replacing fluorescent lights with the strobe variety.  In fact, the school was forced to apply for a liquor license to appease the library dwellers.



#3:  People trying to cheat off you in an exam when you’ve actually studied this time and don’t need to cheat off of someone else.

You’ve managed to dodge tweets, pokes, “uh oh!”s, bleeps, blips, and rings; your focus is impregnable: you will pass your final.  Having managed several solid study sessions, the time arrives, as you march confidently into the exam room, not drunk this time.

Placing your three pens in a row, bottle of water within arm’s reach, and study materials underneath the chair, the proctor fires the starting pistol, and you’re off!

A few minutes in, you’ve done a preliminary scan of the exam, giggling at the ludicrous simplicity of it all.  Not just the exam, but also love, life, and the pursuit of happiness, too.



And then it happens.


Don’t look.


Is this guy trying to get me expelled?

You slowly turn your head as your lips curl into a snarl, both irritation and rage fighting for pole position.

Well, well, well.  Guess who it is?  Mr. Assface.  The one that thought it would be funny to throw snowballs through your open window.  And withhold payment for his share of the cable.  And threaten you with bodily harm for no good reason at all.

“Come on man, please…”


A delightfully passive aggressive karmic payback.

Then for good measure you spill your water on his shoes.

You’ll catch a beating, but you’re going to grad school, and he’ll be trimming your hedges someday.


And those are some things that bother me.