Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"One ticket out of shit-head town please."

I've decided that not only is Dallas ugly, flat, materialistic, and hotter than satan's asshole, it is also completely overflowing with douche-necks. To make matters worse, many of these may be disguised as normal people who you thought you might be able to talk to without pushing them down and then jumping out of a 42nd story window.

I must confess that I've become mostly immune to the douchebaggery of Dallas folks. It's like anything, I guess, you just get used to it after awhile. Like if you lived in an 8' X 8' cage with chimpanzees, you would soon become accumstomed to having feces flung at your face-holes upwards towards a dozen times a day. I mean, you probably would never grow to actually enjoy it, but most likely after 9 months or so you would just wipe it off with a discarded organic banana peel and go right back to trying to convince that damn monkey cage zoo keeper guy to let you out of the cage. I mean seriously, why are you in a frickin monkey cage in the first place?

I say "mostly immune" because sometimes things happen to mentally bring me back to reality. It could be something simple like spotting yet another group of mid-20s skid marks wearing those trendy, hard-core ultimate fighter/skater/ass-neck t-shirts with the old english lettering on them and "distressed" neck holes. Are these guys serious with their effeminate gucci shades, paint-splashed jeans, and randomly anonomous tatoos? How far will some people go to blindly follow fashion trends? I'm forced to wonder.

I try to stretch my immagination to come up with something that might be even too outlandish for even the most devout Maxim reader to get behind. I picture a group of four of them all gathered around a glass coffee table - all with the same pommade faux-hawk haircut and tribal armband tatoos - staring blankly in GQ at the latest bloody chicken feather shorts trend that is sweeping Hollywood. They will all waffle around spinelessly, not wanting to commit one way or the other until the boldest of the group decides that, yes, this trend is sure to catch on and it's far better to be on board and safe than to be left out in the cold wearing last years cargo shorts.

Anyhow, I digress.

Sometimes it's a much more significant event that makes me want to throw whatever will fit into the trunk of my Jetta and burn $4.00 gas as fast as my accelerator peddle can pump it till I'm clear of this state. I had one of these events last weekend.

I went out last Saturday night to grab a beer with a buddy of mine. It was kinda late and I was a little tired from spending the day with my friend Brianne and her family, in from Charlotte for the weekend (not to mention running 12 miles and swimming 2000 meters). I decided to meet him out because I'm trying to build some friendships here in D and he's always seemed like a pretty stand-up guy. We ran the OKC marathon together, he works long hours at a highly-respeced Dallas hedge fund, etc.

Anyway, somehow the conversation switched from the uber-hottie in yellow that we were both commenting on that was sitting across bar to, of all things, religion. I may have made some sort of less than favorable comment (this is most likely) about christianity like how they would eat their babies if jesus made a holiday for it, to which he half-heartedly agreed, but then followed up with the ubiquitous, "But I mean, you're not an atheist or anything, are you?"


But not really, because I've gotten used to this. Having lived as an atheist in the south and now in Texas, you get challenged to say the least. Responses range from mild discomfort to out-and-out rage; the latter being my favorite because at least it's real emotion, and by far the more comical.

First of all, I just have to say that's it's always baffled me the way people will flippantly throw this question out there. "You're not an atheist are you!?!?!?!?" It's as if they were saying something like "You don't masterbate to photos of school bus fire victims do you?!" You know, something totally incomprehensible instead of something completely rational like the idea that maybe your life is not controlled by some bearded, mythical figure that lives in the skies and whose presence is only collaborated by a book that was supposedly written over a thousand years ago and which can be completely dissected and disproved any which way you would like. Unbelievable for sure, but I'm not even to the good part yet.

"Yes," I said, "I'm an atheist." This was followed by a few basically ignorant questions from him like, "Well, what do you believe in then?" and something about a "temple" or something that some group of atheists he had supposedly known had supposedly had that they "worshipped" in. I tried to answer his questions with as much patience as I could muster, finally realizing what it's like to be a preschool teacher when your smartest kid says something like, "Why is clay made out of clay?"

He must have been sensing my utter contempt and disdain for his position and his questions, because he decided to bust out what I can only assume that to him were the big guns: "Well, what about all those people you hear about who decided they were going to be atheist and then all this bad stuff happened to them and their families and stuff. Like really bad, horrible things. Doesn't that scare you?"

Even now I have to wonder what he thought as I stared at him, completely slack-jawed and in total disbelief of what I had just heard, eyes glossed over as my mind ran rampant with 3 hours worth of responses I could lay out at the feet of this simpleton like so many gift-wrapped mice brought home by the family cat.

In the end, my response was a very simple, "No, I've never heard of that." At this point we changed the subject and went back to being two agreeable chaps in a Dallas sports bar, drinking a couple cold beers and enjoying the scenery. One more building block of a new friendship had been added, and we have yet to see if all the blocks will stack up or not. Some of the good blocks may be our mutual love of running or maybe a few really good jokes that totally land with both of us - you know, the kind that envoke that deep down laughter that you get maybe a few times a year - and those blocks are solid. Other blocks, like religion, can be wild cards. Sometimes the thrill of the debate can bring you closer together, at least for awhile. Sometimes though, it can be an insurmountable barrier, never to be overcome.

Basically, no matter how hard you try, though, you cannot use rationality to debate irrationality. It just doesn't work.