Main | Sunday, May 16, 2004

What Is An Asshole?

I'm a teaser. It's an appalling personality trait.

I find out something that is a sore point with someone and I'll ride it into the ground, far far past the point of being funny to anyone. Anyone but ME, of course.

Still pissed off about who lost the World Series?

I'll find a way to work it into a conversation about hay fever.

Does it bug the hell out of you when people slurp noisily from a soda straw?

Don't sit next to me at the movies.

One of my more *interesting* roommmates in San Francisco was an obsessive fan of the game show Jeopardy. It was the focal point of his evening. He'd race home from work and spin around the apartment getting his dinner ready in time for Jeopardy.

When I first moved in, sometimes we'd watch Jeopardy together. I've always enjoyed the show, and I get a small, juvenile jolt of pleasure everytime I answer the question correctly...as though an approving schoolteacher was smiling and nodding at me with pride.

At first, I think Tim enjoyed having me watch the show with him. We were just getting to know each other, and it seemed like a nice, safe way for us to bond.

But.

Tim, you see, was a stickler for 'The Rules'. In particular, he was adamant about the rule that stipulates that 'all answers MUST be in the form of a question.'

At first, if I blurted out, say... 'kreplach!', he'd say (without looking at me) 'What IS kreplach.'

And I'd say something like: 'Some kind of Jewish meat.'

He'd look at me very deliberately.

'Yes, I KNOW what kreplach IS, thank you. But you have to answer with a question.'

'OK, sorry.'

Me, a moment later: 'Photosynthesis!'

'What IS photosynthesis'.

'It's when plants...'

'Dammit, Joe! If you can't fucking play by the rules, why don't you watch it in your bedroom!.

So, we stopped watching Jeopardy together.

That didn't stop me from torturing him, of course.

I'd be walking back to my room from the kitchen, with a sandwich, and I'd slow down going past the living room to stick my head in.

'The Louisiana Purchase!'.

Or I'd be leaving for the gym, bag slung over my shoulder...pausing as I got my keys off the hook by the door.

'See you later, Tim.'

'Bye.'

'The Hounds Of Baskerville!'

And I'd laugh all the way to the gym.

I even got my friends in on it.

'Tim, you remember my friend Darren?'

'Hi Darren.'

Darren: 'Camille Claudel!'

One evening I was standing on out our balcony, talking on the phone. The sliding glass door was shut, but I could still hear Alex Trebek very clearly.

I can't remember who I was talking to, or what about. Probably because I was looking through the glass at Tim, seated faced me.

I put my hand over the phone mouthpiece.

'Mesopotamia'.

And that was IT. Tim totally snapped. He lept to his feet and flew to the glass.

'WHAT.....IS......MESOPOTOMIA!!!' he screamed.

I could see tiny drops of his spittle fleck the glass between us.

Then he looked me dead in the eyes, and reached over to flip the latch, locking the door. The drapes swooshed closed.

The rest of the story isn't very flattering to me. There's a bit where I banged on the glass to be let in. Then something about me climbing the fire escape up to the roof, only to find the door only opened OUT.

Tim, if you're reading this.... I'm sorry.

And 'COPERNICUS!'

Ha.

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