Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Old White Dudes and Why I Don't Want To Be One

Last week, I talked about the Cotati Accordion Festival, which is a great event, and I enjoy going to it. Generally, speaking, there's great music, good food, and lots of incredible accordions to look at (because they always have booths where they're being sold), and The Great Morgani and his crazy costumes.
One of last year's costumes.
There were a couple of drawbacks this year, though; one of which was that the music wasn't quite as good as it normally is. The other was that there seemed to be a prevalence of OWDS among  the crowd.

Here's what happened (not in chronological order):

First incident:
There was an old dude that kept taking his clothes off. Now, if it had been like crazy person taking his clothes off, that would have been one thing, but this guy wasn't crazy. He just seemed to think that it was okay for him to change clothes wherever he wanted to. I mean, maybe he thought he was at Burning Man or something, but I really don't think so. He just seemed to think it was okay... for him. Seriously, at one point he just stripped down to his "shorts," pulled new clothes out of his backpack, and put them on. And it wasn't like he went off somewhere to do that. He was right up at the stage while someone was playing. Evidently, he just wanted something more comfortable to dance around in. Another time, he went over and bought a t-shirt, so he just disrobed right there at the booth after buying the shirt so that he could change into it. The guy had a flaming case of entitlement.

Second incident:
They had a tent set up with a dance floor in it and zydeco music going on. My wife, her sister, and my daughter went in to dance. Also, the Great Morgani was in there dancing in his old lady costume (so hilarious!). I was standing at the edge of the tent with my left hand on one of the ropes watching them dance (but mostly watching Morgani (because, again, hilarious!)). Someone bumped my left shoulder. I let go of the rope and turned to see who it was, some dude (older than me) with a beer in his hand. Now, the act of turning caused an opening (of sorts) between myself and the rope, and the dude put his left shoulder into the opening so I couldn't turn back to where I had been. Slightly annoyed, I moved over a bit. A moment later, he bumped me again, and, again, I turned to see what was up, and he did the same thing, edging more into the opening I'd made. So I moved again. A moment late, he did it AGAIN, and, instead of just turning to look at him again, I stepped to the side and turned just in time to see him switch his beer to his right hand and grab the rope with his left effectively taking the spot I had been standing in when he first came up. He ignored the fact that I was staring aghast at him and just started bouncing with the music and sipping his beer.

Basically, he had just wanted my spot and proceeded to bump me out of it. If I hadn't known that it would be greatly upsetting to my wife, I would have told him exactly what I thought of his entitlement issues and rude behavior, neither of which he could see. To him, that spot deserved to be his, and he hadn't done anything wrong. But I did know that my wife wouldn't want me to cause a scene, so I moved away from the gashole (that's a new word in our house; it's that thing on your car where you put the gas in), fuming all the while.

Third incident:
The worst one, though, was this dude that was probably actually around my age, so not all that old. Seriously entitled, though. He kept wandering and dancing through the crowd and putting his hands and arms on people and trying to dance them around. By people, I mean women. He was acting all cheerful and cherubic, but it was clearly not welcome attention by many people, including my wife. Now, we'd already been observing his behavior, so when he walked past us and moved toward my wife, she backed away; some women, though, were not that lucky, and, whenever someone brushed him off or pushed him away, he would shrug like it was their problem, not his. He didn't leave the men completely alone, because he would give husbands and boyfriends or whomevers back pats and half hugs to let them know it was okay that he had just molested their women.

When he wasn't doing that stuff, he was walking around like he was the godfather of the festival bestowing blessings on people. And if you're wondering if this was some important dude, don't. It was just some old white dude exercising his entitlement. He had no problems. Any problems were with the other people. After all, he was just having a good time.

So I've used this one event to spotlight these issues, but this is only one example. There was also the recent thing with SFWA and a bunch of old white dudes saying how women shouldn't even be writing science fiction. And there was the deal with the white dudes harassing women at SDCC about how they weren't worthy fans and only wanted to play dress up or some such. And don't even get me started on how white dudes think they ought to get to drive.

In short, we here in the US are suffering from a horrible case of OWDS. Even people who don't have it are being affected by it, probably on a daily basis, much like non-smokers are affected by second-hand smoke. And, like second-hand smoke, being affected by it is worse than actually having it. In fact, people with it probably don't know they have it, wouldn't care if they did know, and would probably think it was a good thing anyway. It's particularly rampant among baby boomers, but there are plenty of signs of the early stages in younger generations.

What is it, exactly, that I'm talking about? Old White Dude Syndrome. It's a horrible disease and usually incurable; however, with proper education and preventative measures most of the symptoms can be minimized. As with any disease, the best prevention is early detection.

Most commonly, this affliction is seen among those we would consider the 1%. At least, that's where we see the symptoms most out-of-hand, especially among politicians. Some current examples:

  • Donald Trump and his unwillingness to shake hands with the disease-ridden poor.
  • Anthony Weiner and his weiner.
  • Romney and his seeming belief (yes, I'm being generous) that half of American citizens want to do nothing more than live off of government handouts. Because they're not rich, see. If only they weren't so lazy, they would be rich, too.
Whereas those are some examples of out-of-control symptoms, we can see the beginnings of OWDS in the entitlement issues that white dudes everywhere have. I mean, come on, since when has it ever been okay to just walk through a crowd groping on women and dancing them around? And that shrug the guy gave was almost as if to say, "It's okay; I'm white."

It's getting to be a thing between me and my wife whenever we see some old white dude acting in one of these entitled ways that I will turn to her and say something like, "Don't ever let me act like that. Just slap me or something, and, if that doesn't work, shoot me." I don't want to be one of those old white dudes. At all. Hopefully, I'm taking the correct kinds of measures to make sure OWDS doesn't take root in me, but, you know, feel free to let me know if you ever see any signs of it coming out. Hopefully, this small bit of educational information will help others onto the path of avoidance and prevention.


  1. LOL This was really funny... I'll have to remember this OWDS to make sure Dwayne doesn't ever show signs of it. I think it's too late for my brother... :)

  2. I wouldn't have cared if it bothered my wife or not - I would've said something to that dude who took my spot.
    And if one of the symptoms of OWDS is entitlement, too late - a lot of those younger than us have it already.

  3. Awesome story!!!!! The clothes changer may have had mental health issues and the dancer was probably a lunatic. However, the bumper was flat out rude and needed an ass whoopin'!!!!!

  4. This was great. I loved it. Fantastic PSA.

    A "flaming case of entitlement"... I like that description. Can't tell if gay reference or not. Either way, doesn't matter.

    Also, it's not just OWDS where people try to force you out of your spot. Went to a concert a few months ago (one that I was really anticipating, at that) and right before the opening act started a group of about 3-4 really tall college-age douche-bros decided that getting to the concert early to get up close meant nothing and tried to shove their way in front of people, landing them directly in front of the wife and I, who'd been there for hours and who could now no longer see. So I tapped the first guy on the shoulder and told him, "Dude, you and your friends need to get the f*** out of here. We were here first and I'm not staring at your shoulders all f***ing night." He turned, saw the seething expression on my face, and took his buddies somewhere else without saying a word. I don't tolerate that s***.

  5. A lot of opportunists take advantage of crowded situations, thinking they'll be excused for bad behaviour.

    I like my 'private space' bubble, and if anyone invades it, they had better be prepared for reaction.

  6. I forgot to mention the chauvinistic remarks about women writing science fiction. Perhaps the old guys feel threatened? Tut-tut, boys. . .

  7. RG: It can be insidious and hard to detect in the early stages, so be vigilant!

    Alex: You know, if I had realized from the start what he was doing, I would have. But I took it for accidental bumping due to jostling right up until he actually took the spot. For a moment, I was just too shocked to know how to respond. I mean, who does that? Well, evidently, that guy does. And, by his posture and attitude, it was apparent he felt like he just deserved to have that spot (or whatever spot he wanted). I was kind of too mad to have dealt with it in a reasonable manner at that point.

    JKIR,F!: I'm pretty sure the clothes guy just didn't have any boundaries. And the dancer was... well, he was taking advantage of a situation where people would be reticent to make a scene.

    ABftS: Actually, no, not a gay reference. I didn't even think of that till you said it. More like a "flaming case of hemorrhoids" reference.

    I would have done the same as you at the concert. You can see my response to Alex for why I didn't at the festival.

    D.G.: I know! I couldn't believe the thing with SFWA. Some of my favorite sci-fi books ever were written by women. One of those is one of my top three books of anything ever.

  8. Mm... I totally have to disagree with you, but that's mostly because I've lived near the "Projects" of NYC and here in Florida, I know WAY too many people who think the government should pay their way. (And none of them are white. Imagine that.) There's a difference between entitlement and a lack of manners. These guys at the festival, they lack manners. People who are entitled? They expect everyone else to pay for their health care, their schools, their groceries, and even their cell phones. So what that the majority of the country pays 40 to 50% of their income in taxes?

    The problem is, most people grow up thinking they deserve these things. They've forgotten what it means to work for you place in the world. Kids are handed too much without expectations, and it's a serious epidemic.

    Okay, I'm done. Sorry for the rant.

  9. I can totally get behind this cause. I think we're gonna need bumper stickers for this one.

  10. If only there were a pill or immunization shot or ankle restraint you could use to make sure you're never like this in public. I mean, you're a white dude already, and you're getting older every day!!! I'm glad you gave your wife permission to shoot if you ever come down with this horrible affliction. :)

  11. Thanks for stopping by my blog this week and leaving a comment. I know I'll never be an old white dude :)

  12. Crystal: I'm not saying that there aren't those people out there; I grew up just blocks away from the projects in Shreveport, so I know that there are. However, I am saying that it is nowhere near half of the country that's like that. Or, even, half of people on welfare. In fact, nearly every study/survey done shows that the vast majority of people that require government assistance wish that they did not require that assistance and do what they can to un-need that assistance. Most people on welfare feel ashamed to be on welfare.

    I left this part out of my post (because I didn't quite know how to work it in), but the most serious cases of entitlement among the young, right now, are with white males who have a strong feeling of being "too good" for certain types of jobs.

    TAS: Oh! Bumper stickers! Yes! "Stop OWDS!" I'll have to think of slogans...

    L.G.: I know! It's so scary! It's like I'm halfway there already!

    Carol: No, in all likelihood, you will not. Unless something weird and, from the sound of it, unwanted happens to you.

  13. If you give people an inch, they will shove you out of the way. Any guy who tried those things with me would end up with a broken arm. It's a good cure for Old White Dude Syndrome.

  14. It really is true isn't it? Hadn't noticed it before, thanks for pointing it out.

  15. Jeanne: Like I said up above, if I'd realized what was happening, I wouldn't have moved. I was bamboozled!

    Jo: Yeah, sadly, it really is true.

  16. OWDS is a growing problem Andrew. That was a lot of work just to take a spot.

  17. LOL; this was entertaining Andrew, but I seriously see where you coming from.

    I see a lot of "entitlement" attitude in my day job.


  18. Those guys sound awful.

    I read a Louis CK line recently. It went something like "There was a story in the paper that 80% of New York is now minorities. Shouldn't they be called the majority, when they're 80%? That's a white person thing: A white person would land in Africa and say 'Look at all the minorities here! I'm the only majority!"

    It's that kind of thinking that lets people budge into your space, or grab women and dance with them, or repudiate the health care plan they designed and back efforts to defund it.

  19. I meant to comment the other day but wasn't sure what to say. Stuff like that irritates me to no end. Probably best you held your tongue.

  20. If that guy grabbed me and tried to dance, he'd regret it in a heartbeat. I elbowed a guy in his stomach when he grabbed my butt and whispered something nasty in my ear while I was trying to get a drink in a bar.

  21. Maurice: It was. More work than I would have been willing to put in.

    Donna: Yeah, it's like that free money experiment they did with people some time ago. Not your job, just the entitlement issues.

    Briane: Yeah, I know; the whole thing kind of makes me sick. I mean, on a global scale, Caucasians are not the majority at all, and, yet, we walk around the world like kings.

    Rusty: It was probably for the best. I think the best I could have hoped for otherwise was getting thrown out of the festival.

  22. Elsie: Good for you! And I'm just gonna bet that it was a white guy that did that.

  23. It was a YWD (Young White Dude)

  24. Elsie: He's clearly suffering from the early stages of the syndrome.

  25. Obnoxious people are everywhere and often they are neither white, old, or male. Boorishness is not confined to any gender, age, or racial group. They're everywhere and they seem to be increasing if you judge by what you see in public places. Personally I prefer to mind my business at home and avoid public gatherings.

    Oh, and as far as Trump's malady you cited, I'm with him. I too prefer not to shake hands with disease-ridden poor or anyone else for that matter. Who started that weird custom of shaking hands? Everytime I'm at some gathering where there is a lot of hand-shaking going on I feel the need to go wash mine. Can't we just salute each other or bow like the Japanese or something that doesn't involve physical contact? Who knows where those hands have been and what they've been touching.

    And, besides all that, what would you expect at an accordion festival? Especially if they're serving beer. Gotta be at least a few weird characters show up at something like that.

    Tossing It Out

  26. Hilarious post. We definitely need bumper stickers and slogans. I would disagree with you on one thing though: it's not just dudes. I mean, you had some great dude examples here, but entitled bitchiness is rampant and flaming as well.

    Right now we're dealing with people's belief that since there's been a flood and so many roads are gone, all traffic laws have been suspended. I've NEVER seen such rude, entitled, dangerous driving. Not even on Washington D.C's Beltway, and that road is a war zone...So NO, you can't drive down the southbound shoulder going north because you're in a hurry. You can't cut me off because you're more important. No, you can't ALL go through on your (no longer) green arrow just because they just opened your road. I still have the right of way if MY light is green. Yes, it's been horrid, but we all need to work together. We all have places to go now that we CAN go and NO you're not the most important person on the planet...sigh. Sorry. It's just that it's truly nuts out there.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  27. Lee: The festival just provided some concentrated examples; it's certainly not confined to that.

    And I'm not saying that other people do not have entitlement issues; however:
    1. In my experience white dudes are the worst, and they get worse the older they get.
    2. Repeated studies show that whites (and white dudes, specifically) have a greater sense of entitlement and "I'm better than you are" than any other people.

    As for the Trump thing: I'm not big on physical contact with strangers, either, but that extends to all people. Trump's issue is with people who are not rich. It's the attitude behind it that I have an issue with. If he treated everyone that way, it would be something different entirely.

    Tina: It's not just dudes, but, as I was saying to Lee, dudes are the worst. Which is not something I like saying, because, well, dude.

    Driving brings out the worst in everyone. It's why I can't wait for robot cars.

  28. Hilarious post, but I'm still gonna say that a day at a Cotati Accordian Festival sounds so much better than a day at the Rattlesnake Festival here in WV.

  29. GG: Oh, no, the festival was good; it just had some OWDS problems.
    You actually have a Rattlesnake Festival?