August 8, 2005
With deepest apologies to those readers named Velma or Cletus.
I have the fortune of living in one of the most trafficked cities on the East Coast. Each year, millions visit the city I call home, boarding open-air tour trams en masse with visors cocked close to 90 degrees. Denying the warnings of tram transportation experts the world round, children hang like monkeys from these people movers, pointing excitedly to city-zens carrying out the most mundane of everyday errands. Hauling groceries while perspiring excessively is apparently an extremely foreign activity, evidenced by the fact that more than once an eager visitor has snapped a photo of me taking my cat litter, toilet paper, and hot dogs back to my car. Who knew I looked so thoroughly exotic in my sweatpants, licking Dorito dust from my hands in the Safeway parking lot?

Other than the increase in traffic during the summertime, the general distraction and occasional pileup caused by the amphibious tour bus shaped like a duck, and the defiant refusal of many to move to the right while standing on the Metro escalator, tourists are a pleasure. Their genuine passion for your city reminds you to take a closer look at the monuments and moneymakers that have become a part of the everyday. There are however, those visitors who make you wish that a written test was required for entrance into the city. And, whether it be on public transportation or at my favorite restaurant, these kittens usually end up right next to me.

Inappropriate Couple I sat down behind me on a brutally hot day in July. The air-conditioned Metro car provided relief for professionals on lunch breaks and museum-goers alike. Stretching my toes out in my sandals, pulling my hot skin off the vinyl seat, and grinning, I lowered my head to rest the twenty minutes until my final stop.

They soon broke the silence.

Inappropriate Couple Female (we’ll call her Velma) began to mimic the automated Metro voice alerting passengers to station changes as well as the opening and closing of the doors. And she did so loudly. And every time we stopped and started. Inappropriate Couple Man (who shall heretofore be referred to as Cletus) then interjected such choice, grade A phrases such as “git your butt off” to fellow passengers, while the couple snort-giggled like big betters at the dog track.

What had brought this on? Had this twosome not just come from a quiet, enjoyable day touring the monuments, the Mall, the tee-shirt shop at the Hard Rock Café? Maybe Cletus’ excessively robust and tight camera strap was to blame; was it cutting off his circulation, leaving him lightheaded and unaware of his actions? Their enthusiasm for this display stopped just shy of n*ked chest bumping in front of the Brownie troop in our Metro car.

Ah, but if only they had stopped there. Cletus had most likely been preparing the grand finale since deciphering the primary-colored Metro map that morning. When Velma would state the name of their Metro stop, Ballston (and she did so as often as the conversation would allow), the fully denim-clad Cletus would query, “honey, did you say ball sack?” Wow, Cletus. I’m guessing jokes like this one usually kill at the bowling alley bar.

This, my friends, was the epitome of crickets. Commuters buried their faces in books and some riders stared at their reflections uncomfortably in the darkened windows. I quickly lost that grin on my face.

I also seriously contemplated hitting him over the head with his fanny pack. “Ball sack?” This was a 40-something-year-old man out for the day with his wife, in a quiet subway car with legislators, mothers, children, and perhaps worst of all, other tourists. It saddened me to think that an international visitor with even a basic grasp of English slang might have heard him. I’d rather have people think that we’re all McDonald’s gluttons or the Levi-wearing Madonna worshippers (which of course I am) than the abrasive and loud performers before them.

Why can’t the astronaut food-eating kids ever be on my bus? What about the lovingly embarrassing Dads wearing baseball caps emblazoned with bedazzled American flags? (And come on, who doesn’t love the elderly couple in FBI his and her tees – yes! even when they walk in front of your car at .0068 mph on the green light?) Where are those people who remember that we represent more than just ourselves when we’re out exploring our world?

Make your Mom, your kids, your local Brownie troop – or hell – just someone behind you on the Metro proud.

Or be prepared to be smacked with your own fanny pack.

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40 Comments:

Blogger Oh, that girl. said...

BRA - EFFING - VO! I am in love with you! YOu are fantastic! XXOO Lots of smooches.

Blogger Mel said...

Fanny pack? They were actually wearing a fanny pack? Didn't those all get destroyed in a massive bonfire circa 1995? At least mine did.

Holy jezus, I HATE tourists. I don't know why, I think it has something to do with me hating people in general. But they seriously get on my nerves.

Won't move right on the escalator? My #1 pet peeve.

I like your idea of having to take a written test prior to entering. Like the SAT. With a written essay section. And don't forget the oral exam.

Ball Sack? Crickets. Seriously.

Thank god for headphones.

Blogger A Unique Alias said...

Sometimes it's easy for the yokels to confuse DC with some sort of amusement park. A while back, I saw some tools over at the new WWII memorial with their shoes off, soaking their effing bunions in the fountain. It's not a fucking water park, you feebs!

Blogger Queenie said...

Touche! Some people are just sickening.

Blogger Queenie said...

P.S. - I linked you on my blog.

Anonymous Jorge said...

This kind of behaviour really irritates me when it comes from our own citizens.

Toronto is a great city. A lot of people complain about it being snobbish, but I don't see it that way. There are still those who greet you on the street with a friendly smile and a slightly-shy "hi".

And then you have those morons on the subway or the bus who like to talk a little too loud because they get off on making other people uncomfortable.

Here is a story...
I was riding the bus on the way home from a TKD class a few years ago (98?). At the stop after I got on, some guys (probably about 18 or so), got on the front of the bus and started making fun of people until they got to the back (where I was sitting).

They pretty much sat all around me, surrounding me.

And then they started talking loudly and being obnoxious. Making fun of place names, and trying to get a response.

Then they started talking about how they were going to beat me up, and take my wallet.

It was a joke, of course, designed to make me sweat and squirm in discomfort. I don't usually give in to these kinds of things on principle.

They didn't like the lack of resopnse, and then shofted closer. There were about five of them.

And then I looked up, and said...

"Don't fuck with me, guys, " I made sure to look at each and every one of them, and, I pulled my toque off, revealing my statically charged hair, in all it's glory, sticking up madly in all directions, "Do you really want to mess with a guy whose hair looks like this? "

Stark silence.
And then..
Laughter. EVERYONE on the bus was laughing.

I chatted with them, and they admitted to just playing around. I told them that sometimes this kind of humour might get them into a lot of trouble, and that there were better ways to be funny.

Whether or not they took my advice, I don't know...

But it was fun. :)

Too bad not all idiot stories turn out this way.

I'm convinced that half the "crazy" people on Public transit are just people trying to get attention...

Blogger Kiki said...

He actually said that?!? OMG. I can't believe you didn't hit him with a fanny pack!! Or at least a verbal fanny pack.

How do you now he didn't mean "Balzac"? Maybe he really digs French Novelists.

Um......yeah, you're right...nevermind.

Blogger Megarita said...

The Balzac comment made me laugh. I just remember the phrase we all used when I worked on the Mall -- "if it's tourist season, that means we can shoot them."

Blogger erin said...

sorry...gotta have a giggle...they said ball sack...he he he he....no seriously though,
i feel your pain--currently in new orleans--the city for which people come into town to act and look like jackasses, though they've put up an invisible electric fence that usually keeps them within the confines of bourbon street and the french quarter, but every so often a bunch get out and the local police have to tag & bag them and escort them back into the maylay...
great for weekends, but i get a little jealous when i come across drunk tourists on a monday morning.

Blogger babyjewels said...

In all fairness, they killed at the Air & Space Museum with their Uranus set. Good stuff.

Great post - I felt like I was right there with you. Although like Erin, I'm having church giggles.

Blogger Jeremy said...

Snort-giggle...I like that. I will do my best to ensure that all my displays of mirth now include this.

Blogger Sub Girl said...

the sad thing is, i can picture that happening all too frequently and i would be so infuriated as well!

Blogger Mel said...

I just got back from the gym a few minutes ago - While I was working out there was a commercial on TV for a laser treatment center in Ballston.

All I could think was "Ball Sack".

Thanks.

At least you get them as tourists. We get them as residents.

Anonymous meme said...

wow, sounds like a day trip with my ex-husband's family!

the operative word (or prefix rather) being EX

Blogger Poppy Cede said...

KRIS - congrats on the Washington Post blurb! Woohoo! You truly are famous now! ;)

Do you live in Ogunquit?! :)

Blogger Tao said...

Great post!! I love the way you can poke humor at really annoying people/situations!

Anonymous Sanora said...

Kris, as usual you nailed it (same problem in LA except it happens in restaurants because god knows we don't have convenient public transportation) Megarita, you totally cracked me up with your tourist season line and I'm borrowing it from now on but will credit you always....

Blogger The Megan said...

Thank you for making me look forward to all your great city has to offer.

Blogger Melliferous Pants said...

Too bad you didn't smack him in his “ball sack” with his fanny pack. That woulda shut 'em up.

Blogger Jason said...
Blogger WonderCorky said...

ball sac? did he say ball sac?

HOW FUCKING FUNNY>

I think you should have stood up and slapped him on the back and said 'good one cletus'.

And Mertle Mae was just trying to be helpful. I can tell you've not traveled in the great state of arkansas. They don't have subways/trains there, except freight cars you can hop when your 4X4 is broken down and you need to get all the way to Granny's house in Little Rock.

Don't put down what you don't know. You should go live like Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie did.. and make out with a few inbreds before you start judging them. I mean.. come on.. they're what we call 'simple folk'. and simple humor is what makes them laugh. They like Larry the Cable Guy and jeff Foxworthy. they ARE redneck jokes.

and fannie packs, as long as they are color coordinated with your garter belts, are fine to wear wiht taupe hose.

peace

WC

Blogger WonderCorky said...

you look just like a girl I met in springfield missouri who smoked and sang sintra songs at the top of her lungs when she gave me a ride.

I didn't mind the sinatra songs, even through she really didn't have Frank's intonation or ability to turn a phrase... if this is you..
call me.. we didn't make out, as I was busy making out with your friend, but we did make eye contact and I think you secretly wanted me. or at least you wanted to be with me.. or you wanted to know how I kissed.. or.. you just wanted to know what fragrance I was wearing.

I can't remember what the hell your name was, but does it matter? I mean.. we shared a moment. you're forever emblazoned in my mind as that 'smokin sinatra singing' girl who drove me to a bar while I made out with your friend.

I can't remember your friends name either, but you were funny. and your friend wasn't, but she could kiss good.

well, if you aren't her, I apologize for monopolizing a pitance of your blog space.

peace
WC

Blogger Pink Lemonade Diva said...

hooty hoo! Navigating Times Square from the subway to my office used to be a game of Frogger with the "Fanny Packers' all eating their soft pretzels and looking upwards at the billboards...

I feel your pain.

Blogger Danielle said...

Awesome! NY is pretty bad too. Just wrote about it yesterday. I feel ya...

Blogger Slade said...

oh this is good...I used to live in a beach city where tourists were a constant annoyance. They came to the beach, littered it with their shit, caused traffic jams for miles, and then left...I hated the summer especially because it was so bad. I feel your pain.

Blogger deanne said...

Eh - we get the same Inappropriate Couples here in London. I can barely handle the automated voice blaring "MIND THE GAP!" and "THIS STATION IS [pause, it always pauses] PADDINGTON" at every.single.stop let along the tourists who yell it too and collapse in laughter.

One day I'll stuff one of them into that gap, and they won't be laughing so freakin' hard THEN, WILL THEY! WILL THEY!

*Breathes heavily, sweats*

Blogger notasoccermom said...

Too funny!!!

Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Ball-sac???? Seriously????

Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

You got me to laugh! That was too funny. Cletus and Velma. Love your choice for the names.

Blogger Laurie said...

Oh, God. When will fannypacks NOT be funny? How can you take yourself seriously - a man, especially - when wearing a purse strapped to your groin? It just doesn't make sense.

Blogger Shawn said...

Wait...fanny packs aren't cool. I'm gonna kill that guy at the store. He told me... Oh, I'm so mad I can barely speak.

It sounds like you met my lovely neighbors. They're really quite funny once you get to know them. Cletus is always cracking up the guys in shop class at Sweet Blogger High...

Blogger t2ed said...

The cutest part is that you thought anyone named Cletus or Velma might be able to read!

Oh, stop it, you're killing me.

Cletus and Velma don't believe in the interwebs anyway.

Blogger Dave said...

You know, in the UK, they don't call it fanny pack. Fanny is, uh, something else over there. Don't look at me--ask your mother.

Blogger deanne said...

Yes - we call them - you'll love this - "bum bags".

Sometimes I think I prefer fanny pack. Or, "ugly fashion trend which refuses to diiiieeee!"

[It'll be baaaaaaaack!]

Blogger Mel said...

PLEASE COME BACK!

I'm going insane here.

My day isn't complete without a dose of Kris.

Anxiously awaiting your return...

Blogger TenaciousTab said...

I agree! Checking in everyday awaiting your return!

Blogger Char said...

The next time I'm sitting near this couple (and I have on numerous occasions) I swear to you I'm gonna look at him and say "Good one Cletus" and slap him with his fanny pack!!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the everyone has gotten in the wrong train here....and if they haven't...maybe they aren't aware that the trains were scrambled up like someone was playing with three nuts halves.....hiding a (what felt like) a real dream...under the nuts. Each time she turned her head....or sneezed...the nuts were scrambled.

Not fair.....or humane...

Broken hearted, scrambled and confused.

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