On Being a Jerk

San Francisco street art

A few weeks ago, I struck up a conversation with a man who seemed unnecessarily rude and aggressive. Jerk-like. We bantered back and forth, until I made some crack about it. He responded with the non-answer, “I just fucking moved here from Soho.”

Oh, dear! Such effort evidenced by your want to impress a stranger! Such inelegant execution in your use of unnecessary profanity! Don’t you know that effortless bitchery is the hallmark of the New Yorker?

So, I asked him where he was from, which was effortlessly bitchy [See?], as it disregarded his implication of being from NYC. It turned out that Mr. Soho is actually from the suburbs of Chicago. It’s always the non-New Yorkers who wear their New Yorkness on their sleeves. Real New Yorkers keep that fact on the DL, quietly reveling in their inherent superiority.

Why not just be upfront? Take a lesson from a former colleague of mine, who obnoxiously held his RISD pedigree over my head. He didn’t have to listen to anything I said, because he’d gone to RISD. RISD, RISD, RISD… Years later, I found that he had not attended RISD, nor any design school, and that he’d learned his trade, as it were, in the skin trade — as a paste-up artist for a porn magazine. You want to impress me? Tell the truth!

So, Mr. Soho, if you had just been honest with me, we might be friends by now. You could have said, “Hey, how’s it going? Actually, I don’t care because I’m a jerk.” I would have appreciated your candor and might have even wondered if you’re a New Yorker [Ha!]. I would have gladly given you a tour of this fine city. We could have commiserated about Cincinnati’s many quirks! I could have helped you navigate questions such as, “Please?” and, “Where did you go to high school?” [Say “Elder”]. Instead, you asked me some tiresome questions about Cincinnati, and I did my best to give you the worst advice possible [effortlessly, of course]. That’s how it’s done, jerk. Stop giving New Yorkers a bad rep.

7 thoughts on “On Being a Jerk

  1. I hope you don’t reply “Elder”, now that would be a blunder for a foreign girl.

    BTW, I’m sure you are going to suffer some Uncle Al reminisces today from natives.

  2. I haven’t yet figured out the right answer for a woman — St. Ursula, maybe? But, if I’ve been paying enough attention, Elder seems like the “best” alma mater for men. There’s always, “What? No, I didn’t go to high school.”

  3. Now hold on Maya! “Effortless bitchery is the hallmark of the New Yorker?” As a lifelong New Yorker (Polish by descent) I must take issue. Jerks come in all sizes & nationalities. 🙂
    ~MadSilence

  4. I guess I didn’t make my point clear — it is not the bitchery per se that is the hallmark, but the effortlessness of its execution. In my experience, it’s the transplants who act out in this sort of way. A New Yorker probably couldn’t be bothered.

  5. Effortless bitchery? This is called kvetching. It is artful, guileless, and usually has a purpose that transcends mere venting.

    Kvetching cultivates commiseration. Bitchery alienates.

  6. No, kvetching is a way to commiserate with others; it’s a bonding ritual. One goal of bitchery is alienation. In my exchange with this guy, I meant to slight him because he was being a jerk. My goal was to cut him down, but to do it covertly — it’s more fun if he’s not sure that I slighted him. See?

  7. Pingback: A Word from the NYC Embassy « Visualingual

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