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Idiot Mittens

There are some people who make my face twitch. People who I just can’t stand, for any concrete reason. They come from all walks of life – city, suburbs, Fox News (sorry, easy joke from the obvious liberal). I’m reminded of a kid I used to work with who fell into this category. Not only was he particularly irritating, he was generally clueless in a way that really made me fear for his overall well-being. We had a conversation once that left me mind-boggled. It featured me, the co-worker whose desk was next to mine, and Irritating Guy:

Guy Who Sits Next to Me: Hey, is the Heritage Festival this weekend?

Me: Yup. If you go, you should stop by my booth. I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday.

Irritating Guy (IG)(interrupting conversation): Why do you have a booth? Are you working there?

Me: Yes, my theater company has a booth.

IG:  You have a theater company?

Me: I’m part of it.

IG: What do you guys…do?

Me: (Pause) What does a theater do?

IG: Yeah.

Me: Ummmm….plays?

IG: Oh. So why do you call it a Company?

Me: (Flummoxed) Because it’s a group of people…

IG: (Blank stare)

Me: It’s a business.

IG: Oh. What kind of plays do you do?

Me: Well, we just did “Hamlet”…

IG: Shakespeare.

Me: Riiight…we did “The Glass Menagerie” last year.

IG: The what?

Me: Glass Menagerie? Tennessee Williams?

IG: (Blank stare)

Me: Tennessee Williams? Ever heard of him?

IG: Nope.

Me: Really? One of the preeminent playwrights of the 20th century?

IG: (Blank stare. Picks up a pen to write the name down.) T.S?

Me:  TENNESSEE. (Pause) Look him up. (Pause) Really? You never…really?

At that point I just smiled benignly at him, sighed and went back to my desk where I immediately emailed my mother. We had just had a conversation about incorrect punctuation, mostly regarding my major grammatical pet peeve — inappropriate use of the apostrophe — so I figured she was the best person with whom to share this item. (She’s an English teacher.) I wrote for several paragraphs, going on about how this guy had never heard of Tennessee Williams, the state of public education, and should I be surprised that he hasn’t heard of him, what are they teaching kids today, boy I won’t let that happen when I’m an English teacher, yadda yadda yadda. Her response?

“He’s an idiot.”

My mother has a gift for nutshelling things.