Update from Planet Erf I'll always wonder what it's like to not have any idea that you're coming across as a most unpleasant person. I'm sure I've had my moments of unawareness, particularly when drunk. But anyway...
There's a police helicopter circling repeatedly over my neighborhood as I go to do laundry this morning. I walk into the 'mat and there's this white American guy in his thirties following the Latino attendant around with a video camera. He's wearing embarrassingly short shorts and he has the pastiest white legs I've ever seen. The guy has a really loud voice, and at the moment there's only me, him and the attendant in the small place. At the time I'm also thinking that I know this guy. He looks really familiar, but I can't place him. So he's following the attendant around, aiming his camera at her, and she's trying meekly to avoid being taped. He keeps saying (more like shouting) stuff like, "C'mon! No, it's great! Here look...see?" as he gestures to have her look at the footage he just shot of her trying to avoid him on the little side monitor on the camera. She takes a look if only to shut him up, and he boasts about how his camera is "no cheapo", using that generic foreign accent people use when they think it helps other cultures understand them better. At one point an Eastern Indian woman in full regalia walks by outside. He sees her, runs out, camera in hand, and shouts, "Hey Abdul!" to get her attention. He then follows her around the corner and videotapes her for awhile. Soon after he's back in the 'mat. He then comments, "Man, there's been a police helicopter circling my house all morning. I don't like that...don't trust 'em". Half of me is thinking about the hubris of this guy, while the other half is thinking they OUGHT to be circling his house. This is followed by more loud banter about how he has to go to the library and use the computers there because his internet service at home is messed up. So he asks the laundry attendant if she wouldn't mind pulling his clothes out of the dryer in about ten minutes and putting them back in "so they won't get all rolled up into a tight ball, you know". She meekly agrees, and out he goes.
At this point it suddenly hits me where I've seen this guy before.
Last weekend Reba and I were walking home, and as we turned a corner this guy whizzed past us on a bicycle. As he did we heard him shout to an Asian man who was in his path, "You give ethnic cleansing a good name!".
On my way back from the laundromat there's a girl at a payphone. She's wearing very snug-fitting jeans. As sure as eggs is eggs, a van stops at the light, and the male contents start shouting to her. "Hey! Is that a local call?" (laughter, honking) "Hey baby! C'mon! I'll help you make that call!". This highbrow humor continues as another car passes through the current green light. He has his eyes firmly on the road until he notices that girl on the phone. Now staring squarely at her, he manages to get in a couple of quick honks of his horn as he whizzes past. I am reminded of an episode of the Simpsons where the mayor had his limo pull over so he could make catcalls at some girls on the sidewalk. The girls pay him no mind, and as the mayor drives away he says to himself, "Ahh, I think that went well".
And with perfect timing, the police helicopter is back to circling our neighborhood.