Friday, April 8, 2011

Open Forum Friday: Art of the Insult

Several years ago on one of the instant messaging systems, I ran across a kid I vaguely knew. He was a twenty-four-year-old Mexican boy on a bowling league with friends of mine. I’d seen him at the alleys once or twice, but I couldn’t remember having ever talked to him. He had a reputation of being something of a twit. I thought you looked like a good guy to get to know, he messaged.

I think I’m a good guy to get to know, myself, but naturally I wanted to know in what way he was talking. He responded that he was talking about getting to know me sexually. Oh yeah? I wrote back. Why is that?

I know you’re an old guy and really not a GQ type, he wrote. I was in my late thirties at the time. I’m okay with that.

Knowing that my ego was not going to like the answer, I asked, And why is that okay?

He typed out, Because it means you don’t get to have sex all that much. While I absorbed that one, he added, So you won’t give me any diseases.

So let me get this right, I asked him. You’re messaging a perfect stranger to tell him that because you think he’s old and unattractive, he’s a good candidate for sex because no one in his right mind is going to have sex with him and give him diseases to pass on to you.

Yeah I guess so. Pretty much, he wrote back.

Jesus fucking christ. At the time, I wracked my brain all day today wondering if there was ever a time in my youth I ever told a guy he was old or ugly. If I had, I’d probably have understood why I was getting bit on the butt with karmic retribution. I’m positive I was never that unkind, though.

Listen, I told the kid. So you know. I’m sure you thought you meant well, but that kind of approach is really pretty hurtful. Then I gave him a quick thanks, but hell-no thanks. I suppose there are men out there desperate enough to accept the come-ons of a twenty-four-year-old who thinks it’s okay to insult his potential sex partners, but I’m certainly not one of them.

It was a little strange. I ran across this incident in my old journals yesterday when I was poring through some old entries, looking for something specific. Then within five minutes, I had two more encounters of the exact same type. They happened simultaneously, and both left me in a foul mood after.

The first (by mere seconds) came from another Latin twenty-something-year-old—a guy with a misleading profile name that included the word ‘nice’ combined with the year of his birth. He wasn’t so nice. Hey sexy how ru, he messaged me on Adam4Adam.

Hi there, I wrote back. I like your pics. He was a large-framed guy, but fairly good-looking, and had a good smile. A smile goes a long way toward making any man look attractive, particularly in a sea of profile photos taken by scowling at one’s own camera phone.

I rly like urs, he wrote back. U got a hot dick.

Thanks, I said. You should let me fuck you with it sometime.

Then things got rapidly and mysteriously sour. Go fuck urself asshole!!!!! he wrote back. I wouldnt let u touch me!!!

My reaction: What the fuck? So I wrote the kid back saying something like, you know, when you respond to someone’s expression of admiration with that kind of shit, don’t expect to have a real big circle of friends.

It was probably milder than he deserved. Then I blocked him.

Immediately after I sent that off, a message from some other Adam4Adam guy appeared. The guy was scruffy in a homeless way and only mildly attractive; most of his photos showed him swathed in huge hipster-ironic puffy winter coats or wildly-rumpled clothing, so that it was tough to tell whether he was skinny and trendy, or merely fucking enormous. Here’s his message, which I am reproducing in its entirety: you seem creepy - not entirely in a bad way.

And again, I was like, what the fuck?

In what universe, I wrote back to the guy, is it really acceptable to tell a perfect stranger that he looks creepy?

Put your ego in check, asshole! he wrote back. Yes, really. It was a fucking compliment.

In the future, I pounded back on the keys, my cheeks flaming and smoke issuing out of my ears like Elmer Fudd in some Looney Tunes short, perhaps you’d find that a genuine compliment would serve you better than the shit you’re serving up.

Then I blocked the fuckwad.

I’m really not sure I understand how people can be so rude on these sites. Sure, I get snippy when provoked. But are there actually people—outside of a certain subset of guys who maybe are really, really into flasher-in-the-park roleplay—who think it’s acceptable behavior to start off by telling a guy he looks creepy? Even if it’s modified with the damning faint praise of ‘not entirely’? I imagine any guy who’d use that as his opener and then would admonish me to keep my ego in check has some serious issues of his own, but jeez. Why do I have to be the lucky recipient?

So I’m turning it over to you guys. I know we’ve all been on the receiving end of bad treatment before, both online and in person. But have you ever had someone come at you right from the get-go with insults? And if so, how did you handle it?


  1. Funny you should mention this. Just the other night, I had this conversation online (this is the entire run:

    Him: Ur such a fool.

    Me: Oh, really? Please enlighten me.

    Him: if it was possible im sure someone would have done it by now

    Me: Pity, I take it that means you're not up to the challenge?

    Him: again ur a fool

    Me: Perhaps. But then, I'm a fool with enough of a life that I don't feel the need to message complete strangers with insults to make myself feel better. Have a good evening.

  2. Cowboy,

    He obviously isn't familiar with the subjunctive, either. I liked your classy response, though!

  3. Hi:
    I think it may be an issue with ego. If the person felt he got the upper hand...and at times they are too dumb to even come up with something original...then they think they are somehow in control or it brings them validation.
    I am a lot older than you, I am sure, and lived quite a full life. I have met and clashed with assholes like that my entire life.
    It is doubly painful to be classified as old and ugly when in your youth you were drop dead gorgeous and as an older man, I am still, I mean, I consider myself quite attractive but not in a twink kind of way.
    I like your responses and think they were clever.

  4. Raulito,

    It really is a shame when young people assume that just because a guy is over 35, he's not getting any. Experience proves that far from the case.

    Youth doesn't excuse rudeness, however—whether to you or me or anyone else. I think you're right about some guys wanting to get the upper hand right from the start. If they're that manipulative, though, chances are I'm not going to want to be with them anyway.

  5. I once met a guy over the classified ads in the newspaper, before the internet so there were no pictures. When we met face-to-face he told me I was too ugly to look at and he couldn't stay in the same restaurant as me, then as he was walking back to his car he turned around and shouted that I look like a gorilla (I don't).

    Funny enough, it didn't really hurt my feelings because I was in shock that someone could that rude to somebody else, and chalked it up to him being crazy. Luckily, I've always been blessed with a pretty healthy self-image so I knew what he said couldn't possibly be true lol.

    That night I went out with my friends and we laughed it off, and I ended up having a better night with them than I would have with this looney.

    How some people think it's okay to be aggressively rude and insulting to others is beyond me, but hey, it's their loss, right?


  6. BZ,

    Absolutely. I'm astounded that someone would tell you that you looked like a gorilla, though, to your face. In public. Good god.

    It makes you wonder, though. Do these people have any idea of how rude they are?

  7. This actually made me laugh, because it's so absurd. I think it's easier for people to generally be dicks when they have a computer between them and the person they're talking to. It fits into the same category as breaking up over text messaging.

    On the flipside of this coin. I find that people are so used to putting something between themselves and others when being a jerk, they don't know what to do when you talk to them face-to-face.

    Nonetheless, you would still think out of common decency (which may not actually be so common), someone still wouldn't say stupid shit like that.

  8. Mack,

    I think the potential for misunderstanding and abuse is higher when there's a computer screen between people. Not everyone is a master of the written word, and it's easy to type out something that could be misinterpreted in tone or intent, that might pass unnoticed (or at least unremarked) in person.

    That said, calling someone creepy or an asshole is pretty much out of the territory of misunderstanding and into aggressively obnoxious.

    Do people really break up over text? Over the age of fifteen?

  9. It seems that more people than not really think that their assuming and emoting is the same as logic.

    If old and ugly (in my I think I'm hot shit eyes), then gettin' none.
    And if gettin' none, then safe.

    What a fool...not so much for thinking his butt's apple butter and there aren't enough spoons to go around...enjoy it while you can ass hole, but with his "logic" I'll bet he's already caught what he doesn't want.

    Something makes me think such a behavior is the bastard love child of pride and social ineptness, and social ineptness is magnified online.

    I have been on the receiving end of some serious verbal abuse online, but after things (I thought) were going well and he turned into Sibyl.

    The closest I got from the get go was a guy who insulted they kind of guy I was looking for (someone with a hairy chest) rather than me.

    "When you're looking for someone less baboon-like, let me know."


  10. Seph,

    Even 8-9 years ago, that kid's logic was a truly uninformed approach to disease prevention, you're right. Insults aside, that kind of thinking wasn't going to keep him free of infection.

    As for your detractor, it must be that you were looking for a baboon instead ofwhat he had to offer. Else, why would you pass it up? It's the same kind of logic that a former boss of mine had when a woman would turn his ass down (they all did), and he'd inform everyone in the building that she was a lesbian.

    Now, he was creepy.

  11. Is this type of behaviour only found with gays because i have never really heard woman complain about men being this way towards them, although you do hear some women who act this way towards men. It all comes down to people who think they are too good to be with you and usually these individuals has nothing to offer in bed or a relationship, its much better to let them go and consider yourself luckly to have seen that fool coming. I think these individuals are so full of hate and pain that they need to spread it.

  12. 10:53 Anonymous,

    Oh jeez, I think men are even uglier around women. Often to their faces. Just because they think they can, and because the ones who are being rude are often misogynistic enough to think that they can get away with doing it in the woman's presence.

    I think for a lot of these guys, the 'I'm better than you' pretense boils down to 'I want to reject you before you reject me.' It's a shame if they feel that way, but it doesn't excuse the behavior.

  13. When I just 18 and started dating a bartender at the local bar. I was new to town so he would introduce me to everyone. Well he introduced me to this little Latin shit that after getting his drink came over to me and said "nice to meet you, see you around." then patted my stomach and proceeded to tell me "we need to get you in the gym" and as he walked away should "btw our group is the best". I was so green to the scene I was s flabbergasted I didn't know how to react. Mind u at 18 I was 5' 10" 150lbs wet. It would be more acceptable if he said it today. Since it's true. Lol

  14. Jomo,

    Jeez, Fucking rude!

    Mind you, I've had a couple of guys say similar things to me after sex—stuff like, "We really need to do something about your hair/complexion/clothing/face." That kind of slam is never pleasant, but the condescension behind it—as if there's some kind of committee that decides the standards to which I'm not living up—is what really galls me.

  15. Ugh, this happens to me a lot actually. For some reason the area I currently live in is full of stuck-up guys. Even when I was 18 I would get crap for letting my hair grow on my chest and face. All the guys my age told me I was too hairy and would sometimes offer to help me shave before having sex. I'm a swimmer, so I've shaved my entire body before, but I find that it is too much of a hassle to do on a daily (my hair grows back that fast) basis. I've even been called a neanderthal because of it.

    It got worse when I started looking for guys online. I'd get a lot of guys who wouldn't understand why I wasn't jumping in my car to drive for a hour to fuck them because I had to be desperate from the look of my pictures. I don't even reply to guys like that anymore. Just block.


  16. I briefly dated a guy who worked at one of the local adult bookstores, and he got a great kick sending back into the video arcade to hook up with guys. He'd occasionally come back and watch or just listen to my report when I got back.

    Once he sent me after this kinda hot guy who had a really nice dick. I should know because within 5 minutes of going back, I was on my knees sucking him. While I was sucking him, a third person - probably the same age as the guy I was sucking came in - and they started making out and groping each other. They then proceeded to talk together as if I wasn't even there.

    Then the new guy casually gestured in my direction and asked the man I was sucking, "Do you even like this kid?" And he said, "No."

    With his head still brushing the back of my mouth, I felt flames shoot across my face. I immediately zipped up, got up, and went back to the front counter. The new couple were leaving as I was telling my bf about what had happened. Yeesh.

    But you've heard plenty of my horror stories.

  17. Wow, I don't know why it still surprises me that people can be so cruel and hurtful yet it does.

    To your previous commentor I can confirm that this behaviour is not only found with 'Gays' I am a woman and I have had straight men make disparaging comments about my looks(to my face) in the past even though I would consider myself attractive ;)

    People can be hurtful whatever their sexuality but the only way to deal with these 'bullies' is to ignore them and pity them. Their asinine behaviour is a result of lack of confidence and self esteem.

    Rob if it were to ever happen again it's simply not worth the ten seconds of your time to type out a reply. Block them.


  18. I'm going for the obvious here:

    I wonder if it's a way for men--who felt no control, or had a low self-image--to try and gain control of a potential situation. Now, having said that, it's ASININE... as well as rude, and hurtful. No one deserves to be treated that way - and, frankly, it's abjectly false.

  19. "Else, why would you pass it up?"

    It wasn't as if I was passing him up exactly. My ad stated...blah, blah, hairy chest, blah, blah, and he responded nonetheless with his baboon quip. Why bother respond with essentially saying 'you don't want me but let me know when you do'?

    Yet he also provided his description and a body shot. He actually had a rockin' bod, and smooth or not, I would have nailed him if it weren't for his opening salvo.

    Another odd thing about it all is that I'm far from smooth, and my ad didn't hide that fact. I was even (then as now) fully, thickly bearded. Evidently he liked baboons too. Maybe he was just projecting his angst of not being a baboon.

    To Ace, fret not. I think hairy, or at least fully bearded, is the new black. Hipsters have paved the trail. Embrace it and avoid the razor bumped crowd. Or maybe it's just me, but I'd tackle anyone on a fixie with a beard and rolled up pants.


  20. Seph,

    The best part of your comment is that you basically described me in the summer: beard, ponytail, cuffed jeans, and I bike whenever I can (more cuz I want to stay in shape than because I'm a hipster, but I'd count it). Personally, I also like the scruffy look and I think I wear it well.


  21. You have no idea how much i can relate to this topic. I'm a larger guy and have a profile on Manhunt. I got this sweet little message: "Hey unlock your pics...I'm morbidly curious what you look like". nice huh?

  22. Ace, If you live in LA, I'll laugh my ass off. My last visit back, I met this little hipster dude named Ace in the Melrose bicycle district.


  23. Seph,

    Sadly, no. I'm in Ohio. But wouldn't that have been hilarious?


  24. Ace,

    I've commented on the mania for manscaping before. I don't get how men have been natural for thousands of years, yet a decade and a half of manscaping in porn has somehow managed to convince an entire generation or two to become shaving Nazis.

    I think you're right to block.

  25. Writer,

    Oh my god, that is so damned rude that I cannot even begin to formulate an answer. MOVE.

  26. T.,

    Thanks for the confirmation. I've seen misogynistic men be so amazingly rude to the opposite sex to their faces that sometimes it's a marvel that the human race survives at all. If I were a woman, I'd be kicking most of the male sex in the nuts.

    I think a reply is necessary, though. If we don't tell people they're behaving badly, how are they going to know? Maybe I'm just naively optimistic, that way.

  27. Chris,

    That's fucking rude, too. Assholes.