Wednesday, January 19, 2011

That Guy

I am not a frequent flyer so I considered it a privilege when, last month on a short flight from Oakland to San Jose California, I actually got to sit next to That Guy.

Well, it wasn't exactly next to him, but in a small confined space like a commuter airplane, aren't we all seatmates, so to speak? And, for That Guy, were were indeed, all in this together.

That Guy? Who is That Guy? Well,if you don't know, you may want stop reading now and wait for the next post, but I'm guessing that both of you, dear Readers, know just who I am talking about. No, not me, of course, even though I can't claim never to have been That Guy, but you have met him, and more than once. You've had to sit next to him on a plane, ride in his cab or sit in on one of his meetings.

He's the guy who is too loud, too outspoken, too insensitive to the needs of others and is far too in tune with his own feelings and opinions. Opinions, alas, are not like assholes. Assholes have way more than just one opinion.

That Guy doesn't need to know anything about a subject, or at least no more than enough to have already made up his mind well past the point of change. Change isn't even a realistic possibility for That Guy. That Guy's most popular subjects are, of course, sports, politics and religion, often in that order.

Despite having (at least) these three popular and seemingly easy subjects to choose from, That Guy usually has taken the time to become an expert on just one of them, though depending on how drunk he is, he may try to connect two or more of the three. Sports and religion are the easiest to link up, but it isn't hard to imagine what political dialog at the bar or Fox News might sound like sans the language of gridirons and concussive campaign web hits.

Still you have your purists, like That Guy on the plane. He was a Sports Guy, and a one loud Sports Guy at that. Worse, he was a One-Team-One-Sport Guy, which, as we all know, is the most obnoxious kind. Worse, even, than the Religion Guy preaching on the corner, who, while as rabid and gesticulatory, is at least thinking of something grander than himself, however fanciful that vision may be.

By contrast, That Sports Guy is focussed on just the one thing. His Team. With a capital T, naturally, because It is The Thing to be Worshipped. It is also The Thing to be Paid For. As in tickets, hats, jerseys and most of all stupid squanderous bets, entered into in the worst and most ambitious kind of ignorant hubris: simple pride and vanity transformed into the false promise of monetary reward. In a word, faith.

But in this faith there is no hope for salvation, only for the next Sunday, for the next Super Bowl (that someone else's team is always seems to be playing in) and for the next season. No one is really a winner in this game.

And it's not just That Guy who's got a losing record. In the end, even (especially?) the players lose their much larger bets, having in their youth unsuccessfully put up a pair of knees, say, for a couple hundred thousand dollars that was gone before they were middle-aged. Ah but who cares, right? Not That Guy.

So this Sports Guy was all That. And he knew it. He even said so.

"I'm That Guy," he said as we settled into our seats at the beginning of the flight. It was a point of pride. He then talked at the top of his lungs for the entire hour or so that we were on that plane. He recounted every drunken episode from every drunken Sunday in the past drunken year. He talked about his 'Old Man' and the 'Old Lady' like he was a dockworker from On the Waterfront. Well, Brando he was not. That Guy, he was.

Thinking perhaps that it was a bit too quiet as we waited to get off, or perhaps that we hadn't already heard, he spoke up again. "I'm That Guy," he said. "If you don't like it, there's nothing you can do about it."

Ah, true that. Well, almost nothing.

I hoped that the San Diego Chargers would kick the Forty-Niner's asses that evening. And lo and behold, they did.

No comments: