My dad listens to talk radio in the car, on our way back from the Portguese American club, where he goes on a regular basis, despite not being of Portugese descent.
Racist White Lady: I want to thank you and ICE for your service protecting our fine country from terrorists. The illegals keep killing people. And there are no reprecussions for them. They just go to to sanctuary cities, and hide, like cowards.
Me: That's not the way sanctuary cities work. If you commit a crime: murder, embezzlement, drunk driving, illegal gambling, you still go to jail, or get deported. You just don't get arrested for existing.
My Dad: I want to hear what she has to say.
RWL: All our money goes to paying for illegals to get health insurance and drivers licenses. Meanwhile, all our homeless veterans are freezing to death on the streets.
Me: This lady should start volunterring at homeless shelters. Maybe donate some money to some veterans' institutions. No one is stopping her from supporting our homeless veterans but herself.
Dad: But our money keeps going to help illegals.
Me: No. Our money keeps going to Jeff Bezos and Zuckerberg, and Trump, and all of those other people who don't pay their employees health insurance or a living wage. Who stiff the people like you and me, who actually work for a living, so that they can afford to play golf on one of the courses attached to one of the dozen hotels they own.
Dad: That's captalism.
Me: IT DOESN'T WORK. I work thirty-five hours a week for a guy that doesn't pay my health insurance, and who owes me seven and a half months of back pay. Capitalism sucks.
Dad: Why don't you work 40 hours a week?
Me: Because the people who own businesses schedule people so that they don't have to pay their health care, because they're greedy shitheads who can't actually afford to support their business while also living the lifestyle they think they've earned.
Dad: But why should my money --
Me: NO ONE WANTS YOUR MONEY. You're not wealthy. Trump has never climbed a telephone pole to restore electricity. Rush Limbaugh has never spent an hour trying to help a depressed mom find a cheap graphic novel to help her son learn to love reading. Tucker fucken Carlson has never volunteered his time for Big Brothers/ Big Sisters Of America. They SUCK. They don't care about you or your money unless it's going to them, personally. They hate you. They hate me. They even hate my boss. Why do you keep listening to a bunch of White Nationalist Assholes who want you dead?
Dad: We can agree to disagree.
Me: No. You are protecting the people who steal from you, and redirecting your anger at people that they are trying to murder. This isn't "which type of music do you like?" The people you're listening to for life lessons are actively starting a class and race war against the people who would actually help you if you were in trouble. If you're tied to a railroad track, and a train is coming, who do you think is going to help you? A person who, like your great-grandparents, came over to this counyry to escape terrorists and poverty, or a smug, shitbag in a bowtie who tells you all Mexicans are drug dealing rapists?
Dad: Why do we argue about this every time we get in the car?
Me: Because you don't listen to music anymore, you listen to wealthy white guys who've never worked a day in their lives, who try to tell you that people who work 40-60 hours a week for a non-liveable wage are somehow the enemy just because they didn't wait twenty years to get a bunch of paperwork signed by the same people exploiting them for work by not paying them enough!
Dad: Can we agree that religion is our enemy?
Me: YES. But note how all those Christians that you don't like are supporting the media and President that you support. Isn't that, like A Giant Red Flag to you that these people are full of shit?
My dad turn the radio to the oldies station.
Random Customer, upon purchasing a couple of back issues: "The demise of Mad Magazine has to be the saddest news of the year."
Completely Correct Teenage Daughter: "Really, Dad? The saddest news of THIS year? I want you to think about that. Because if that's your opinion, I'm never talking to you again."
RC: "The saddest publishing news."
CCTD: "No. The saddest publishing news is that the media is filled with a bunch of Nazi-enabling cowards."
The rest of the transaction took place in Absolute Silence.
Republicans can chatter all they want about how The Current Administration has improved our economy, but both banks I visit regularly have stopped offering free pens this year, and started chaining the ones they have to various counters.
That doesn't fill me with optimism.
Me: "When I was a teenager, someone recommended Ayn Rand to me, and some wires got crossed in my brain, and I read Interview With The Vampire, and thought Well, it was okay, but I don't get why it's so politically divisive. By the time I realized my mistake, I had no desire to read Rand's work."
Friend: "Honestly vampires would make Ayn Rand 100 percent better, but it would still be unreadable."
Me: "Yea, 100% of zero is still zero."
While my coworker gets to deal with the very nice botanist looking for comics involving plants, her...partner?..sidekick?..antagonistic wingman? comes to the counter and pretends to steal the sandwich I'm eating for lunch.
Fuckhead: "You've been working in comics for a long time, huh?"
FH: "What do you think about how Marvel is destroying comics with leftist politics?"
Me: "By destroying, you mean increasing sales and bringing more people into comics?"
FH: "Sure, sales, fine, whatever. But you're a purist like me, right?"
Me: "You want to keep reading the same stories with the same characters who never change over and over for forty years?"
FH: "No, but just making a character a woman or whatever" Reminder: 'or whatever' is a reference to when Captain America was Sam Wilson, who is Black, that is literally always what ugly ass middle age white guys with bad haircuts mean when they say 'or whatever', so if you ever hear an ugly ass middle age white guy say 'or whatever', kick him in the dick until he can't rape-roduce again. "it doesn't make the stories interesting, you know?"
Me: "Jason Aaron has been writing Thor for about a decade now. He wrote some kind of okay stories about Odinson Thor, but the most interesting part of his run was when Jane Foster became Thor. She was battling cancer, and every time she picked up the hammer and became Thor, it undid all of her chemotherapy. Eventually, it killed her, and now Odinson is Thor again."
FH: "That sounds really creative. But I see a lot of stories on websites about..."
Me: "Every person who writes articles about how diversity is ruining comics is too fucken stupid to think critically. Marvel has been 'pushing leftist politics' since they introduced the X-Men in 1963, since Steve Rogers punched Hitler in 1941. People who write about leftist politics destroying comics are moronic trolls with zero friends, and no concept of history. They don't read the books they bash, they just reminisce about how they imagined things were when they were kids and still had hopes that anyone would ever find them lovable. But those people don't have friends, and no matter how much money they spend on comics, no comic book store employee has ever liked them or wanted them in their store."
FH: "That's interesting. I guess I'll let you get back to eating your lunch."
After a Very Long Day Of Work, Owen Grey stopped by the store and asked if I would like to go out for drinks. Like a fool who'd never been to Cambridge before, I said yes.
After our first round of drinks, I mentioned watching Stargate.
Owen: "Did you hear about Patrick Stewart coming back to Star Trek?"
Me: "Yes, I--"
Really Entitled Guy: "I have feelings about Patrick Stewart."
Me: "Of course."
REG: "As someone who went to Harvard..."
REG: "But who dropped out. I'm not An Elitist."
REG: "I am a waiter at a Corporate Restaurant, and I could have been A Manager..."
O H N O O O O O O O O O O O
REG: "but I don't believe in corporate bullshit. But My Manager asked me who my favorite President was. I asked 'Can I pick two?' but he said..."
REG: "So I picked LBJ. People only associate him with Vietnam. And, ok, he is responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, but people forget he did a lot of good domestically. I went to Harvard.."
W h a t h a p p e n e d t o P i c a r d?
REG: "and My Manager is smart, but...you look Smart."
REG: "I'm a little drunk. Sorry. But, I grew up in Boston. And I'm Working Class."
Both Owen and I make eye contact with the shame-filled bartender long enough to get another round while he waxes pendantic.
REG: "Obama was ok. But people forget that Clinton promised the Rust Belt jobs, so when.." LOTS OF RACISM HAPPENS "...The Rust Belt said..." SO MUCH MORE RACISM "I'm not racist but" AN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION OF RACISM "Which is why Trump won. Now, I'm Gay, but, and I don't tell Most People this" BECAUSE I'M A RACIST "but I voted for Mitt Romney" BECAUSE I'M A RACIST "And I say this as a Jew" which he almost definitely was not "whose mother is a Catholic" which is more likely "but I dated one of The Twelve" which is not impossible but fairly unikely "so I know to vote Mormon..." AN EVER EXPANDING UNIVERSE OF RACISM "Sorry, I'm prosteletizing."
Me: "It's fine. You've got my vote." He doesn't, but I'm very curious what's next. Aside from Round Three of Dark & Stormys.
A repetitious half hour or so passes.
REG: something something election Ohio "What's the name of the county?"
Owen lists actual counties from Ohio. Where he lived.
REG:"No. Let's call it" Not An Actual County Name "so the people there have short term electoral memory and..." RACISM RACISM CLASSISM
My mind wanders far enough away to order food and another drink.
REG: "And I'm Gay so I can say" A WORD HE IS NOT ALLOWED TO SAY EVER "and you get to go home and sleep with your beautiful boyfriend while I have to stay awake worrying about The World."
Where and Who is My Beautiful Boyfriend?
REG: "Could I have another round?"
The Bartender gives him a Gansett and a shot of Frenet. I Know This Guy.
REG: "I went to Harvard.But I'm not An Elitist. I believe when you see a Homeless Person..." he grabs my hand...THE FUCK?..."You pull the next one up." WHEN DID I END UP IN A MARC SMITH GROUP PIECE? WHAT IS THIS FUCKERY? "Every night I find a homeless person, and take them to rehab. Which I pay for."
REG: "These White People" so....us "they think of themselves as middle class, but you and me" NAAAAAAAAAAAAAH "you and me know we are more like" DON'T SAY 'THEM' "them...The" RACISM RACISM RACISM "Do you think $33/hour is better than minimum wage?" YES. IT IS. IT IS MATHEMATICALLY PROVABLE. "I was on a boat with my cousin, Ted Kennedy..."
REG: "I wanted to talk to him about Something, but he said 'Cousin, I want to talk about Nothing. Let's just sail together.' So we did." He mimes sailing. Poorly. Like he's driving a bus but is not tall enough to see out the windshield.
Me: "The Kennedys still owe me hundreds of dollars for a catering job they never paid me for."
REG: "Where are you from?"
REG:"I'm from Working Class Boston. My mom is working class, but The Kennedys....Let's just say I could wake up on a beach in Hyannisport..."
HYANNIS, YOU ELITIST PIECE OF SHIT
REG: "And it would be" *kissing sound* "I've gotta pee."
Me: "Did you notice he spent that whole time talking out of the side of his mouth?"
Owen: "I did not. Did you know he is from Boston? And Ted Kennedy was his cousin?"
Me: "No. Every time I take a drink, I do it to keep from laughing in his face."
Owen: "I want to talk about poetry."
REG returns: "Politics are poetry. The results are prose."
SHUT THE ENTIRE FUCK UP.
REG: "I said that to my roommate in boarding school."
Me: "What school?"
REG: "Why do you want to know?"
Me: "I went to Northfield Mount Hermon. I'm just curious."
REG: "Oh. The" ELITIST VOICE DIALED UP TO ELEVEN says the guy who also went to boarding school "International UN School. I went to Working Class Boarding School"
"at Governor's Academy."
BWAHAHAHAHA *cough cough choke cough wheeze choke* BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa *ahem*
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Working Class Boarding School BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhaahaaahaaa hoooooooooooooooooo
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA BWAAAAAAAAAHUHHH Huhhhhh hoooooooooo boy
(Note: the laughter is all in my head. But it is LOUDLY in my head. I can't look at anything but my glass or I will explode.)
REG: "Next month I'm going down to Texas..."
Owen: "Are you moving down there?"
REG: "No.I travel a lot." But I only fly Working Class. "And I'm going down there to unseat Ted Cruz. Are you familiar with Beto O'Rourke."
Owen: "A little."
Owen: "Not really."
REG: "He's Very Important."
Owen: "Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "
REG: "No. No." HEEAAAAAAAPING MISOGYNIST RACIST CONDESCENSION. "That's a one off. This is Real Change. New York needs another Cuomo. I'm gay." He stands up AND PUTS HIS DICK ON MY KNEE "But I'm old school."
I move my knee.
REG: "I'm going to change the world." Great. Now I'm in a Taylor Mali po----his dick is on my knee again.
I grab the check, and my credit card.
Me: "I've got to go."
REG: "Most people just watch the world change around them. But we're going to do something." He grabs my fucken hand again. "Pull the next one up. The Blacks, The Hispanics, The Jews ---"
REG: "Most people don't think about the dishwashers." FUUUUUUUUUUCK OFF. "But that's who changes the world. I'm Irish, and last century, the governors were Irish and we did it for each other." He grabs my fucken hands again. "I'm all about freedom. Except those Muslim women in burquas. I'm pretty old school about that."
Me: "Holy fuck."
Owen: "I'm from Boston and I'm working class, and Catholic, and Jewish, and gay, and my cousin is Ted Kennedy."
Me: "I hate him So Much. After he stood up, he kept putting his dick on my knee."
Owen: "Oh no. I didn't see that."
Me: 'It didn't feel that impressive."
Random British Customer, after purchasing "Mad About Trump": "It's quite an interesting President you have here."
Me: "It's amazing how your accent changes the pronunciation of 'morally bankrupt piece of shit'."
"You know that guy who works at the hardware store? He was on the phone with someone, and he was saying a bunch of Pro-Trump stuff, so I sort of tuned him out. And then I heard him say 'You're going to abandon me for being pro-Trump? After I stuck with you through your whole child pornography situation?' I have to know that now. I have to know that this guy isn't just a Trump voter, but that he's a long time supporter of a child pornographer. And you know that everyone who works with him knows both of those things."
A dad in his thirties comes in with a six or seven year old on a leash. The retail employee senses trouble.
It's not a leash,exactly. It's not around the kid's neck. It's toddler handcuffs. They're plastic. They probably don't chafe. As much as metal.
A dad in his thirties comes into a store with his sixish year old son handcuffed to him . But, you know, big goofy, colorful plastic handcuffs with a two foot long cord, so it doesn't look as terrible as it is.
A dad in his thirties comes into a store where there is one employee, and one former employee on a ladder...
The former employee loves to stand on ladders. Earlier in the day the current employee got up on a ladder and made a joke about how he wasn't like that former employee who just went around standing on ladders for no reason. He clearly Bettlejuiced the former employee who is now standing on the fucken ladder.
...and the dad is followed by two also bearded, also thirty-something dadbros. No other kids.
The handcuffed kid is crying. "I want Pigget. Give me Pigget."
The dad with the handcuffed son says "We didn't get Piglet. Remember? You weren't good enough for Piglet."
I am not a dad. I do not know what this kid's behavior is like. I do not know their financial situation. It is not yet for me to judge how the dad is handling the Piglet crying. This could be totally legit. You know, without the toddler handcuffs.
The dad turns to me. "This is his mom's fault. Bitch has to mention Piglet. he doesn't even know who fucken Piglet is."
I am now judging him. In my experience, misogynists are rarely good parents. Particularly when they misogyne in front of their seven year old handcuffed kids.
The dad and his short prisoner wander around the store, coming perilously close to knocking my former coworker off her ladder. She doesn't notice this. The air is thin up in ladderland. The ground is another terrible world.
The handcuffed child sees a series of Pops and Dorbz. He wants one. Dad says "You don't even know who they are." which, again, might be reasonable without the context of the misogyny and the handcuffs.
The handcuffed child says "Huck."
The handcuffer dad says "Hulk. That's close, though. Good. Uncle Stan will get that for you." And then, to me. "That was pretty good. He was non-verbal until a few months ago."
I do not reply with "Maybe he just didn't want to talk to his shitty dad." but I think it really loudly.
Uncle Stan says "I'll get him the Hulk. But if he cries about Piglet again, I'm going to throw it into traffic."
I don't like Uncle Stan, either.
The group inoffensively talk about Comic Con both to me, and each other. Again, without context, their conversation is fine. With context, I hate them.
The handcuffed child says "Huck."
The handcuffer dad says "Be patient."
The handcuffed child says "Pigget."
The handcuffer dad leads the kid out of the store. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt (which he doesn't deserve) that he took him out of the store so that Uncle Stan wouldn't hear him talking about Piglet and refuse to buy the Hulk.
With the Escaped Convict Family gone, Uncle Stan starts talking to me about comics he's looking for. Again, without context, his conversation starts fine.
While Uncle Stan rambles about books he can't find anywhere, my former coworker finally descends the ladder. She has been up there since the late Cretaceous Period.
Uncle Stan says "We don't have comic stores like this where I'm from." I do not ask him where that is.
Uncle Stan says "Where I'm from, we have a church basement where once a week, they pull out hundreds of long boxes and some specialty items."
Uncle Stan says "They had this really cool signed Spider-Man plate that I wanted, but it was $1500."
"That's a lot of money." I say. "That's a lot of money to spend on Spider-Man plates."
"That's three antique guns worth of money." Uncle Stan says. "I'd rather have guns than Spider-Man plates."
I really want Uncle Stan to buy his shit and leave.
Uncle Stan asks "Do you collect guns?"
"No." I say. "I don't collect guns."
Uncle Stan says "Where I'm from, a lot of collectors double-dip. Comics and guns, coins and n...paraphernalia."
Is Uncle Stan a Fucken Nazi? Of course Uncle Stan is a fucken Nazi. Of course Handcuffy Dad has a friend he calls Uncle Stan who is a fucken Nazi. Handcuffy Dad? Probably also a Nazi.
Today? Nazis in the store to-fucken-day?
I don't know they're Nazi fucks. Maybe he was embarrassed to say Naruto to me? Neopets? If Uncle Stan and Handcuffy Dad hadn't been otherwise shitty, would I have even assumed the "n" paraphernalia was Nazi?
Uncle Stan returns to talking about humdrum humdrum whatever comics that he couldn't find. Very polite. Talks more about Comic Con. Nothing offensive. Regular conversation.
Is Uncle Stan a Nazi Fuck, though? I mean, I think so. I definitely think so. Don't Nazi Fucks just look like anyone now? No visible racist tattoos. No Klan hoods. No racist shirts when they are just out buying comics like regular people. Like Nazi Fucks are regular people.
Uncle Stan pays for his comics with a Hundred Dollar Bill. It was not the last one in his thick wallet. I don't know what Uncle Stan does for a living, but he appears to be loaded.
The Third Man, who has been Entirely Silent for the entire trip says "Stan, you should tell him about the Hulk vs. Wolverine statue you bought."
Uncle Stan says "It's huge."
"Could barely fit it in the car." Third Guy says. "We almost had to tie Tiernan on the roof."
Uncle Stan says "If he mentions Piglet again, I'm going to tie him on the roof for real."
Third Guy says "I told him he should have Stan Lee sign it. Stan Lee was Right There."
Uncle Stan says "But it was too big."
Third Guy says "The base, then."
Uncle Stan says "But I don't think Stan Lee created Wolverine. It was someone else."
"Len Wein" says my former coworker who is on the floor like a reasonable human being, and not up on a fucken ladder.
Uncle Stan does not acknowledge her. She does not appear to notice. "Chris Claremont or someone." He says.
"Len Wein." I say.
"Really?" Uncle Stan asks. "Huh."
Taking a walk around my neighborhood this morning, I noticed, for the first time, that there are about a half dozen rainbow flags hanging from various houses on the block I live on. I also noticed that all of them are upside down. I just don't know if that was done purposefully.