April 14th, 2003


There's no better buzz than arguing with strangers.

Saturday night, I went to a birthday party for this set of twins that is friends with my sister-in-law's aunt. Neither me, my brother, my sister-in-law, nor her brother were all too excited about going, but we went nevertheless. The party itself turned out to be more fun than we had anticipated, and the only potentially bad thing that may have happened is when I met one of the twins' friends. We approached her, my aunt-in-law started introducing us and the friend chose that very moment to emit a hack of a cough into her hand. I tried to play it cool, laughed, put my hand on her shoulder and said "don't worry, I'll take the shoulder pat instead", she laughed too, and then outstretched her cough hand to shake mine. My throat is a bit more constricted today than it has been. This better be allergies.

We stayed at the party until around 12:30, chatting it up with my (ok, she's not but this is just easier) aunt and her housemates, and drinking the grownup drinks. On our way home, we decided to hit a bar for another beer, but promptly stopped kidding ourselves and ordered two pitchers when we got there. I was seated at the bar next to a guy who was alone reading the karaoke song list and struck up conversation with him. At first it was very friendly and normal. It turns out that he is a government employee from San Fransisco in D.C. on a year contract. I told him about good bars to go to and we bitched about the weather some. Somewhere down the line, the conversation got a little deeper. That was when I was introduced to the crazy.

I am a little hazy as to how we got onto these subjects. I remember talking about how classism is more of an issue in America than people would like to admit. I remember talking about places we have been, telling him that Luxembourg was my favorite place that I visited in Europe, and he said he liked Monaco. I remember him telling me that like Monaco and Luxembourg, there was an aristocrat ruling class in America that decided things for us. I remember talking about how in order to advance in life, you have to make some sacrifices. He said he only is where he is today because of luck. All seems pretty normal, right? Stay tuned.

Then he proposed a hypothetical that began with, "let's say you have a kid..." I interrupted him, saying that his hypothetical is flawed because I do not have a kid and I will not be having a kid because I cannot afford one. I can barely afford my apartment. He tried to get me to bite a few times, but said that I had proved his point anyway because what he was getting at is that the Aristocrats decide how much things cost, like apartments. I said I didn't think that was true, because supply and demand decides how much things cost, that apartments will go up in rent until people are no longer willing to pay for them, and the rent will go down. He shook his head and smiled at me like I'm some poor rube. Nope, it's the Aristocrats who cause demand.

Also on the subject of children, he told me that the rich have more children than the poor. I said that this is factually incorrect, but he clarified that he didn't mean the "regular rich people like us [sic], but the Aristocrats. They have tons more kids than poor people". I told him I didn't think this was true, but if it were, what did it matter? If they can afford to have a dozen kids, they can go right ahead. It's when you can't afford kids and you keep squeezing them out, it becomes problematic. Nevertheless, I asked him who these rich people were that had dozens of kids, and he said, "you know, the people in Forbes Magazine." Like who? "I dunno. They're in Forbes. I don't know off the top of my head." I persisted that his theory was incorrect, but he kept repeating that the proof was in Forbes but that he couldn't give me any examples, so I gave a few. "Bill Gates doesn't have any kids. Oprah doesn't have any kids. Hell, I don't even know if Steve Forbes has any kids. Who are these rich people who have all these kids?"

The guy kinda shakes his hands in exasperation and spouts, "I can not believe you are trying to prove me wrong with just three examples." I told him that I was doing better than he was, who was trying to prove himself right with nothing. "They. are. in. Forbes. Magazine. I can not be expected to remember who they are." I told him that this was like me telling him I read somewhere that aliens exist but that I couldn't tell him anything about the article and expecting him to believe me. "ALIENS DON'T EXIST. What the hell does that have to do with anything?"

I told him that I grew up in a fairly affluent area, in the same town as Lawrence Taylor and the Houston/Browns, and that I didn't know of anyone in my town who had more than five kids. He waved his hand aside and said "you think you're impressing me with your so-called rich neighbors? Lawrence Taylor is an employee. These Aristocrats are bigger than him." So they're bigger than sports or movie stars. "yes." Then, who are they? I think this is about when steam started coming out of his ears. I tried to sum it up for him: "you are telling me that there are people in America that control the laws of supply and demand, that have dozens of children and are richer and more famous than movie stars or sports stars, but you can't tell me who they are, and I'm supposed to believe what you're saying?"

"OKAY. Let's take your aliens analogy. There are millions of stars out there with billions of planets orbiting them. So, taking probability into it, there has got to be at least one planet that has aliens on it. So they must exist, but I can't prove it right now."

"But you told me a minute ago that aliens don't exist."

I swear to god, with this, the guy got up and walked out of the fucking bar.
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