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Civil Disobedience Come, civil night,
2003-03-06 23:51
by Mike Carminati

Civil Disobedience

Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron all in black.

- Juliet on that fateful night (moral: be careful what you wish for)

You get some interesting emails when you decide to throw up a weblog. I now turn over the mike to Andy Rooney:

Did you ever notice how people aren't as civil as they used to be? The clerk in the supermarket who rolls his eyes when you question him if the pomegranates are fresh, the waitress who is too busy to hear your views on the newspaper story that you are reading because you are again eating alone since no one can stand to hear your whiny voice while eating, the English teacher who corrects you when you have ridiculously long, run-on sentences consisting of a tangentially-related laundry list of ideas, each expressed in a rather prolix phrase form?

Time was when you when the mule-drawn streetcar was so genially accommodating that a lady could whistle to it from an upstairs window, and the car would stop and wait for her while she shut the window, put on her hat and cloak, went downstairs, found an umbrella, told the "girl" what to have for dinner, and come forth from the house.

The previous passengers made little objection to such gallantry on the part of the car: they were wont to expect as much for themselves on like occasion. They had time for everything: time to think, to talk, time to read, time to wait for a lady! [Mike: I must warn the patient reader here that I strongly suspect that he has lifted this streetcar story from Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons.]

Today, if you take too long at the local Quickie Mart digging for change in your pockets to purchase your girly magazines, the thug behind you who's dying to imbibe his tightly gripped slurpee-if that's what you do with it-will cut right in front of you with a self-assured grin.

Mike: Sorry, I can't take any more of this so I had to off Rooney. My point is that no one has any social graces nowadays. Sorry, it's hard to concentrate on this piece while Rooney's groaning on the floor-I must not have hit him hard enough.

Anyway, witness these two emails I received lately. The first is a fellow blogger, who evidently feels that my blog is a flophouse for any squatter who stumbles past. Let me just say that I have never before refused a link exchange with a colleague even when he has some unflattering comments for my views. However, this guy had all the earmarks of a bad house guest with a fiercely overdeveloped sense of entitlement:

Subject: a small advert for my blog

I see you have links to baseball blogs. As it happens, I just kinda started one,.... Feel free to link to it if you like it, or send me a nasty Email if you don't.

Well, there is always the third option of utterly ignoring you. I did notice that one of my colleagues did link-swap with the gent, so maybe he reserved his insouciance for me. I guess when you call your site Rants you open the door to being treated like a sports radio personality.

That one could be easily ignored, but an email that I got earlier tonight screams for a response:

Subject: baseball trivia question

My son needs to find the answer to this question for extra credit on a test. Here goes:
"Who was the last national league team to play in Boston?"
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

This I appalling to me on so many levels, I just don't know where to start, but I'll try. First, the answer is of course the Braves who played in Boston until 1952, moved to Milwaukee, and then to Atlanta in 1966. They were and are the oldest, continuously operating club in the majors. Any fair-to-middling baseball fan should at least know their name if not the particulars of their history. But there is no way in H-E-Double Toothpicks I am sending this woman the answer.

Why? Let me count the reasons:

First, it's pathetic that this woman has to resort to me and can't Google up her own answer.

Second, the son is too lazy to even cheat for himself ("Why can't Johnny Google?").

Third, It's cheating, right? It's extra credit on a test. I am not in the class, am I? I'm not the kid's chem partner or anything. I know I have that dream where I'm in my underwear and the twelfth grade finals are about to commence, but that always ends when I click my heels together three times and repeat, "There's no place like home."

Fourth, if she is going to cheat for her lazy-ass son, she could at least pay me my props and lie about it. Come up with some decent story like, "Me and my buddy's got this here bet..." Lie to me. Come on, baby, lie to me.

My last thought was, "Who invented liquid soap and why?" but then I realized that I had just lifted it from a John Cusack film. I was as bad as the rest.

I had to cleanse myself. But what to do? Giving her the answer was out of the question. How 'bout a rude letter detailing her and her son's offenses? How 'bout looking up their school and telling the teacher? How 'bout sending their email addressed to some spam-inducing address? How 'bout posting her email address andletting the world have at her? Those were all too kind.

Then the answer struck me. Here was my response:

Dear Madam,

The last National League team in Boston was called the Plymouths so named for the the famous rock that bears the same title. They played in the NL between 1885-1896. They then became the Worcester Ruby Legs, who in turn became the St. Louis Arcs, which are today's Cardinals. Best of luck to your son.


Kill them with kindness. It was perfect. Now if I just had the cajones to send it.

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