I created a newsletter so I wouldn’t have to keep going on Facebook to fire off links to my work, so all my new writing is there. Check it out and, if you’re so inclined, sign up for the newsletter: ryanross.substack.com
If you’ve listened to Donald Trump speak at any point over the past year and a half, you’ve likely heard him use the phrase “fake news.” It’s become one of his favorite rebuttals — so much so, in fact, that he claimed to have invented the term “fake news” in late October. Much like the man himself, this marvelously idiotic assertion is what happens when you combine boundless egotism and staggering ignorance.
Until about 3 weeks ago, I didn’t know what The Red Pill was. I was vaguely aware that it was a Reddit forum, but that was the extent of my knowledge; based on the name, I assumed it was some sort of conspiracy-theorist subreddit. You know, the kind of place where amiable, like-minded folks can come together to talk rationally about the Illuminati, whether or not Obama is a secret lizard person, and the Bilderberg Group. Your standard Reddit fare, I suppose.
I struggled for a while with how to write this- writing it in a “Dear Blake” style seemed overly dramatic, like there should be a voiceover and soft piano music playing as you read. But writing it to nobody in particular seemed too clinical and detached, like I’m just writing about a nonexistent entity. A noun.
So I opted for the former- I am not inclined to ask for your approval.
I love Mexican food. Continue reading
God knows there’s enough of these articles bouncing around on the internet without me adding my two cents, and I’m positive nobody wants to hear another one, but I hope you’ll bear with me for just a bit.
For those of you who haven’t heard (and therefore didn’t congratulate me via text, Facebook or LinkedIn…you know who you are), I started a new job exactly one month ago. Hang on, I need a moment to bask in my freedom from the detestable machine that is my erstwhile employer.
About a month ago (April 17th, to be exact), I was leaving work when I got a picture message from my roommate. It was a picture of our front door, which by itself would be kind of a weird message to send unless he was trying to convey that “DEATH HAS VISITED THIS DWELLING.” Unfortunately, the picture was of this:
Welcome to “Things I Hate,” a semi-regular installment in which discuss something that bugs the shit out of me. This week’s recipient of my loathing: people who chew with their mouths open.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank everybody for their comfort, support, kind words, what have you, following my last post. Things are by no stretch of the imagination back to normal; in fact, I’m sure my definition of “normal” will continue to evolve as time goes on, but that’s a story for another day. I almost didn’t want to post anything else here, mainly because I didn’t want what I wrote about Blake to be relegated to a second-class spot, but the more I thought about it, the more that seemed like an illogical course of action. As much as I want everything to remain as-is until I’m ready to move on, I think the only way I’ll be able to is to feign some sort of normalcy; “fake it ’til you make it,” as it were. Plus, not writing anymore after promising in my last post to fulfill at least some of my brother’s potential would be fairly stupid, considering he was the best writer I knew.
Anyway, let’s give it a shot.
The subject of “Things I Hate” has thus far really only been something that bothered me at the exact moment I decided to write about it: I don’t really hate faulty headphones all that much, but when I’m on the train and can only hear my music in one ear, that bothers me. Passive-aggressiveness is frustrating, but I can live with it- it’s not like people are being passive-aggressive at me every waking moment, then following me home and sitting in my bedroom going “No, it’s fine that you like to sleep on your stomach.” “Things I Hate” is largely hyperbolic: if it annoys me in that moment and I have access to my phone, I’ll write about it, that’s all.
Today’s topic, though…Christ, just the thought of it makes my blood boil. Open-mouthed chewing upsets me to no end; the smacking of the lips, the mouth-breathing, the sound of half-masticated food being converted into an easily digestible paste before being forced down one’s gullet: It’s all horrible.
People who chew with their mouths open is probably the biggest pet peeve I have, and I think it’s largely because there’s almost nothing I can do about it while still remaining polite. If someone’s being inconsiderate or rude, I can have a frank discussion with them. “Hey, you were really rude about ________, and here is how it made me feel” is a perfectly acceptable comment to make, and more often than not, it will result in a behavioral shift from the offending party (at least in the presence of the person who was offended.) But chewing with one’s mouth open isn’t a behavioral issue so much as it’s a deeply ingrained habit that’s not easily reversed. As such, it’s almost impossible to get someone to stop doing it without actively trying to shame them into changing their ways, though God knows I’ve taken that road before. I suppose it’s equally rude of me to shame someone for doing something they probably have no idea they’re doing, but I can’t help myself. Last week I was sitting next to my boss as he ate a salad with nuts and apples, and good GOD it was upsetting. Every time the fork went near his mouth, I cringed- how do you tell your boss that he’s eating like a pig and is probably an awful, poorly-raised human being? That’s the kind of shit that gets people fired.
I did it anyway.
At first I tried to couch it in a joke: “Is that salad good? Sure sounds like you’re enjoying it! LOLOLOLOL.” He laughed, I laughed (through clenched teeth, angry beads of sweat forming on my brow), and he kept eating. Then it happened again. The second time, I was decidedly less jocular: “Hey, can you please chew with your mouth closed? The chewing sounds kinda bother me.” He nodded his assent, and was quiet for, oh, 15 seconds. And then I heard the smacking sounds again. Visions of a world ablaze entered my skull, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if my irises turned bright red from anger. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it was no use: he’s a goddamned open-mouthed chewer, and he will never change. I tried everything: I stepped out of the office for a second, got myself a glass of water, all that shit, but it was all for naught. Eventually I had to sit back down next to him, and almost as soon as I did, he did it again. I snapped. “DUDE. CHEW WITH YOUR MOUTH CLOSED.” He looked at me, taken aback by the stern reprimand, but so great was my fury that I didn’t even care. His expression changed from indignation to submission, he lowered his eyes, and the fork lowered. His salad-eating days were over, and my rage subsided for the moment. (I’m actually still kind of mad about it, though. I’m a weirdo.)
Long story short: table manners are key to the long-term preservation of both social decorum and of my sanity, and anyone who chooses not to observe them should be lowered into a pit of snakes.
Welcome to “Things I Hate,” a semi-regular installment in which I discuss something that bugs the shit out of me. This week’s recipient of my loathing: passive-aggressiveness.
First things first, allow me to apologize for the ever-increasing gap between posts. (This is where an excuse would normally go, but I don’t have one, so that’s pretty much it. Sorry.)
I was on the subway last week and, as fortune would have it, I found an empty seat on the train. It’s nominally a three-person bench, but if you’re going for comfort, two people is a more viable number. Usually I’m stuck standing from 23rd Street in Manhattan all the way to Myrtle Ave./Broadway in Brooklyn, which is about a 30-minute ride, so needless to say I was pleased with my good fortune. I sit down, headphones in my ears (YES I GOT NEW ONES), and open up my book (“Charlie Wilson’s War,” in case you were curious, which I’m sure you were.) After a few seconds of reading, I decide to pause the excellent music pumping through my headphones so I can better focus on the book. As I read, I notice the train growing more and more crowded, but since the guy to my right isn’t moving over to let anyone else in, I elect to do the same. No sense sacrificing comfort until I’m asked to do so, right?
(I know that sounds kinda dickish, but unless someone elderly or with a disability is trying to sit down, I think I’ve earned the right to have a little comfort. I’m at work and on my feet for about 12.5 hours a day, and I get a seat on the train about once every two weeks. If you think I’m not going to milk that shit for all it’s worth, then you clearly don’t know me very well.)
After a little while, I hear someone muttering the word “asshole”- I don’t think much of it at first, since I assume they’re just talking to themselves. But it persists. “Asshole…fucking dick…asshole.” I start to pay closer attention to the man lobbing these invectives, and it becomes painfully obvious that he’s talking about me. With my headphones in, I continue to stare at my book, but by this point I’m not reading at all- I’m just trying to discern what I could possibly have done to engender such hatred in this man. And then I hear this beauty of a sentence:
“Must be nice to be sitting down on a crowded train, asshole.”
Are you fucking kidding me?! Seriously, who says that?! Keep in mind, this bastion of passive-aggressiveness never asked to sit down OR gave any indication that he would like me to move over so he can sit; moreover, he seemed to be placing the blame solely on me in spite of the fact that the bench was occupied by two people. Look buddy, I don’t know from what fur-lined cave you crawled, but here in the real world, if you want something you open your mouth and fucking ask for it. I’m not a mind reader, and I have neither the time nor the patience to try and anticipate the needs of every other person sharing a subway car with me because they’re too chickenshit to ask for what they want. If he had asked, I would have had no problem whatsoever moving over so he could sit down; hell, even if he hadn’t asked and just started to plop down in the seat, I’d have moved. Honestly man, did you think if you sat down without my express permission I’d slide a blade between your ribs? What really chapped me, though, was his willingness to stand there and swear at me, but only because he assumed I couldn’t hear anything he was saying. If you’re so sure you’ve got the moral high ground on this one, why not tap me on the shoulder and make me aware of your displeasure? If he had at done that, I’d have been more willing to accept his opprobrium; at least it would have come in a constructive manner.
Anyway, the guy was being a dick, so I decided I had a choice: move over without being asked, or continue to sit there exactly as I had been. Because I’m a petty and small-minded person, I chose the latter. And guess what? I REGRET NOTHING. That guy sucked.
Oh, and we got off at the same stop, and when I stood up, I saw him looking daggers at me, so I turned to him, took out my headphones and said “You know, next time you want someone to move over, you should probably ask them like an adult instead of cursing at them when you think they can’t hear you.” Closed/muttering mouths don’t get fed around here. The look on his face was priceless, by the way.
The point I’m trying to make is this: don’t be passive-aggressive. It accomplishes absolutely nothing, and it makes me hate your guts.
An afterword: I changed trains at Myrtle Ave., and the very first thing I saw was a black guy yell “PARDON ME!” and careen wildly onto a bench already occupied by two people. Now that’s how you sit down on a train.