WWHD - What Would Hiro Do?
Have you ever gone to a party where you just immediately get bad vibes? That happened to me last night, at one of my friend’s Halloween parties. I went as Hiro Nakamura, remember. And I’ll admit my costume was lame. It was. Hey, it cost me $4. Well, actually, it cost me a lot more than that, but 95% of it I already owned. Shirt, pants, shoes, etc. And now I don't even know what I'm going to do with this stupid plastic sword.
Anyway, so I walk in the front door. Most of the party-goers are in the back playing beer pong or some other such game, but there are a couple of people in the living room watching the Bosox game on TV. And I kid you not, but I hadn’t even closed the door behind me before this guy in an orange prison jumpsuit started criticizing my costume. In his defense, he was clearly drunk. But that’s not really in his defense, because I believe that a person’s true self comes out when he’s drunk…and it became immediately clear to me that this kid was kind of an asshole, which is sort of the point of this post.
Anyway, here’s the court reporter’s transcript of the conversation:
Dude: So you think you wear a sword over your regular clothes and that suddenly makes it a costume?
Me: I don’t know if you watch television, the show Heroes?
Random girl: Oh my god! You’re Hiro!
Me: Yep. Good call.
Dude: Oh, well, I don’t own a TV.
And there was a moment when I seriously stood there debating whether to just tear into him. Not a lot. Just a little. Just to whet my NFL-sized appetite. “Well, you should probably think about getting a television, because they’re really not that expensive. In fact, and you’re probably not going to believe this, but some people have more than one, because we don’t actually live in the 1950s anymore. You also could have watched the show on the Internet, or do you not have that, either? Do you suffer from some chronic aversion to the basic technological amenities of the 21st century?”
But I didn’t say any of that. I was 50-50 on it. I’m not really sure why, but I guess it’s a sign of some sort of blossoming maturity that I kept my mouth shut. Oh, let it slide. He’s just drunk. Don’t bring down the party vibes. You’re probably just overreacting. He's a friend of Becca's. You should be nicer to people, anyway.
It wasn’t that he offended me. If anything, I found it bizarre. What? I'm sorry, did you just insult me? Did you just put me down?
No, it was the principle. Why would I tolerate this? Why would I tolerate someone who immediately criticizes people he’s never met before? That would be silly. His comment was the kind of thing I'd say to my friends and immediately think, "Wow, so that was pointlessly negative." But to make it the first thing he said to someone he didn't know was just inappropriate.
I know some people think tearing unto others isn’t worth the effort, so why bother? I don’t grant their premise. They must never have torn into someone, because it’s totally worth it. And it really isn’t any bother, either, because it really wouldn’t have required any effort on my part, intellectual or otherwise, to do it. Someone mouths off to me about my costume, and I immediately think, “I know it’s not as good as just going to a costume shop and buying an orange jumpsuit for $20. That’s a level of creativity that just never would have occurred to me.” The thought just pops into my head, beseeching me to utter it. Please say me. PLEASE. SAY. ME. No, Mr. Smart-Ass Rebuttal. Not this time.
I think my real motivation was, in fact, ultimately altruistic. I felt I owed it to my kin and kind. I’m clearly a nerd, and my huge glasses and terrible acne in high school will both testify to that effect. But I’ve never really been picked on the way other nerds are. I’m not really sure why; I think some people are intimidated by me, but it doesn’t really matter. The point is, something about this dude, his attitude, the situation, etc…it all felt to me like he was the kind of kid who picked on those whom he thought were in any form weaker than him in middle school. And I felt I owed it to the past victims of his alpha-male jockeying to demonstrate that there are nerds who don’t actually endure other people’s bullshit.
In the end it didn’t really matter, because I ended up leaving after about 15 minutes, anyway. I said hello to my friend and got myself a drink, but I didn’t really know anyone there and didn’t particularly feel like schmoozing with a bunch of random people. Which I suppose is the point of parties, which in turn is probably why I don’t by-and-large enjoy them. I’d rather be at home learning about the distinction between just and unjust wars.