When I was younger and wore my hair long and purple and red, with chains hanging from my hip, trucks would drive by and guys dangling out passenger-side windows would yell, “Fag!” or more commonly, “Get a haircut!” People Who Yell From Cars – hereafter referred to as PWYFC’s – if nothing else, are traditionalists.
Living in a small town in Newfoundland, this wasn’t wholly unexpected, and I didn’t really mind. I’ve always been a strong proponent of Idiot Rights.
These days, however, I blend. I don’t have the hair to grow long anymore. My shorts are khaki. My polo shirts – collars not upturned – signal my status as a serious adult. I’m a good, dull, fashionably indistinct citizen now.
Yet I still get yelled at by PWYFC’s.
I dried my tears and moseyed on.
What is it about PWYFC’s that compels them to yell at complete strangers? At the time I thought, ‘Could his moronism be the Rosetta Stone in my decipherment of why I am continuously vocally accosted? Is it relatable to my perpetual pedestrianism? Purely locomotive motivation?’
Coming from an Anthropological academic background, I tend to jump towards cultural and genetic explanations for just about everything. Perhaps twenty thousand years ago our early ancestors who had horses would ride over to where tribes without horses lived and mock them from the safety of their mounts. This behavior was then passed down through the ages in a sort of Lamarckian douchebaggery. Could People Who Yell From Cars have evolved from People Who Yelled From Horses?
Naw. I decided it was more likely the poor bastards were simply mad about their small penises.
But then I had to throw out the teeny-weeny wiener theory as well, seeing that some PWYFC’s are, unfortunately, women. The women are, however, technically, more like Women Who 'Woo' From Cars – ‘woo-girls' while on foot, but WWWFC’s while locomotive.
Alternatively, PWYFC’s may also sometimes simply sound like women. The Doppler effect does tend to feminize.
In terms of causation, I concluded that it had to be me. In some way I was bringing it upon myself. Perhaps a pheromone I emit, or a subsonic tremor in my cells’ vibration? Frequently, I'm asked for the time in the mall. Strangers will cross the road to talk to me. Drunks need to tell me their stories. From this I have deduced that my public persona holds an aura of knowledgeableness and harmless-ity. Extrapolate that then out to people feeling the need to yell at me at 50 kph. Very much the same phenomena, but mobile.
Then I met ‘Ted.’
I concluded that it wasn’t me.
I was sitting in the back-middle seat of a crammed car; only a short jaunt to the liquor store, so no big deal. I didn’t know Ted, sitting to my right. We’d only just met that night. He seemed nice.
Little did I know – cue dramatic music – that Ted was the enemy.
We weren’t forty feet from having left the curb before Ted rolled down his window and started yelling at pedestrians. He wasn’t very good at it; as a yeller he was only a yearling. As the car would approach a person he’d wind up and yell, “HEYYY NICE SHOES!” or “HEYY ... PANTS!”
I looked on in fascinated helpless horror. Ted was like a yappy little dog in a window. He had no control over what he was doing. He had to bark.
Suddenly I was faced with a kind of human I hadn’t known existed until then. Yes, people yelled from cars. At me. All the time. That, I understood. What I hadn’t known was that they were a kind of person.
He saw me staring at him, turned and said, “What?” I wanted to bring Ted home with me to my test chamber – my rented room – so I could sit him in a cardboard car of my devising and attach electrodes to his brain; flash different sorts of fake pedestrians at him and monitor his cerebral activity.
It was like standing in line at the bank and looking over and realizing that the person next to you in line is a Sasquatch. The Sasquatch then looks at you and says, “Excuse me, do you have the time?”
So many questions. If Ted were on a boat and he saw a water skier, would he be a Person Who Yells From Boats?
Is he that guy on the plane who looks out the window and then turns to you with a smile and says, ‘They all look like ants’?
The grand question: What would happen to Ted if he saw himself walking by?
I desperately wanted to know.
Alas, the science would have to wait. The driver pulled into a parking lot, turned around to face us, and told Ted to shut the hell up or else he’d throw him out of the car. It was embarrassing, really.
The experiment was over.
Abashedly, Ted sat right in his seat, shooting restrained glances toward the window as we went. As we passed pedestrians, his eyes followed them hungrily.
I could sense his pain. “You can yell at me if you want,” I told him.
“It’s not the same,” he said.
What a magnificent specimen.
Does Ted consider himself an artist? Does he go to conventions with other PWYFC’s, rent a big open-air bus with them, and drive around the city obnoxiously yelling at people?
Without being able to dissect, weigh, and compare Ted’s brain to the brains of other jerks I’ve known, I can only conclude that people like Ted give into what Poe liked to call ‘The Imp of the Perverse,’ that little mischievous voice inside us all which makes us do things we know we shouldn’t, like lick icy flagpoles, or pay to see Michael Bay movies. In that one instant that the PWYFC has access to a pedestrian, he can anonymously critique his being in any way he sees fit, emboldened by his power of locomotion and anonymity. In that one instant the PWYFC feels the superior sapient.
Similarly, the imp has been set free to roam in this age of internet anonymity. It’s people like Ted who ‘disagree’ with every comment on every news site, regardless how amiable, and whose membership pretty much includes every last commenter on Youtube.
Like so many other fetishists, nerds, neurotics, and hobbyists who have come together to make happy tent pavilions on the vast rollicking plains of the internet, I suspect it won’t be long before the PWYFC’s fly their own multicoloured flag and proclaim their pride.
At our expense of course.
Reality shows can’t be far behind, soon followed by government grants for PWYFC art, PWYFC literature, PWYFC pez dispensers....
Soon PWYFC culture will be splayed nakedly across the mediascape for all to see and revile equally. We can all grow bored by them together.
Until then, when you’re walking down the street and hear anonymous breath being drawn, look up into that busload of PWYFCs' smug, twisted faces, with their pointy teeth and tongue-waggling imps on their shoulders, all of them with their little penises and wrinkly woo-hearts, gather some breath of your own, and shout something back.