Quadrupled

“I was writing at a table in a sports bar last night, and there was a group of five sitting nearby — four guys and a lady — who couldn’t stop laughing uproariously. Every time it felt like someone had exploded an aural fart grenade….’hah-hah-hah-hahhhh!’ After a while I got out my watch and started timing their frequency — no lie, the boisterous noise happened about once every 75 or 80 seconds.

“Everybody explodes in laughter from time to time — it’s wonderful when this happens. But people who do it repeatedly and oppressively in a crowded room are, no offense, animals. They’re the equivalent of a guy who sits down at a communal breakfast table (which I’m sitting at right now at the Star hotel) and loudly slurps down a bowl of Raisin Bran.” — “Oppressive Laughter,” 1.18.07.

“I was awakened at 1:45 am by the upstairs party elephants and their usual (i.e., roughly two times per month) thundering weekend stomp-around. Walla-walla, clomping feet, throbbing Latino music, kids running around and shouting, creaking floorboards. They care about nothing but their own inalienable right to party as late and as loudly as they choose. So I did my usual-usual, which was to call the cops. Except this time I filled out a written complaint, requiring the obese pater familias upstairs to appear in court on 9.29.

“It took a little more than an hour for his guests to leave — it’s now 3:15 am. But Jorge the Elephant really doesn’t like his party rights being challenged. 15 minutes ago he stood at the top of the stairs and yelled in my general direction, “Fuck you, Jack! Ya white cracker!” In other words, if I was somewhat darker I might be a little cooler about the building being nearly vibrated to death and nobody in the immediate vicinity being allowed to sleep at 1:30 am. Either way I’m the bad guy.” — “Pachyderm Agonistes,” 9.19.09.

“I’m sitting in a little joint on Second Avenue near 11th Street, trying to do a little work and savor the warm mid-afternoon air. But I can’t. I have to pack up and leave. A group of hysterical shriekers sat down about ten or twelve minutes ago — okay, a shrieking man and a cackling woman accompanied by two hee-hee-ers — and all I want to do is see one of them choke to death on a piece of ham. Or…you know, be garroted by one of the waiters.

“It has to be said again because this trend isn’t ebbing — it’s getting worse. There’s nothing quite as awful to me (and others, I presume) as people who laugh like drunken coyotes or wild orgasm dogs in restaurants. The key component in any display of obnoxious public behavior is being utterly oblivious to the possibility that you might be offending others. Clearly such a thought hasn’t occured to the gang sitting next to me now. It’s almost as if they’re getting off in some Marquis de Sade-ish way by bludgeoning people with their hideous gaiety.

“I for one have never made other people miserable by laughing loudly — not once. I have never howled or shrieked or thrown my head back and made the paint chip and flake off the wall from my ecstatic gales. And if I’m with a large group that is starting to get louder and louder so as to cause discomfort in others, I’ll politely excuse myself.

“My dream job if I wasn’t writing this column would be to join a secret government group modelled on the East German Stasi. Our whole thing would be to go from restaurant to restaurant and surreptitiously video-record offensive shriekers, and then get their info and get into their lives and their tax records and proceed to make them so miserable that they’d be willing to fink on others. And that’s when the fun would start.” — “Worst People in the World,” 4.30.10.

“I’m having a late breakfast at a cafe near my place, and there’s this jabbering Hispanic guy sitting two tables away who’s louder than hell. To be heard by his tablemate he’d need to talk at a level 4 or 5 (which is how I do it — I talk to someone like I’m having a conversation, not like I’m giving a speech in an outdoor arena without a microphone). This guy is talking at a level 8 or 9.

“A couple of Latino guys sitting at the counter are doing the same thing, bellowing from the diaphragm so everyone in the cafe can hear what they’re saying. Except they have to talk even louder because they have to be heard over the first loud guy.

“There’s no way around it — New York Hispanics can sometimes be socially unsubtle people, and they don’t seem to care if people like me are bothered by their patter. It never even occurs. We all act thoughtlessly from time to time, but the mark of a real animal is someone who never considers that he/she might be giving offense.

“Is this primarily a New York-area thing? Or something that only low-rent Latinos do? I’ve been all around Spain and I’ve rarely noticed this level of conversational obnoxiousness in cafes. Nor did I notice this element when I visited Buenos Aires a few years ago. The Latin men and women I’ve observed in other countries can be spirited and exuberant, of course, but they mostly seem to converse at moderate levels. People with money and/or accomplishment under their belts are always more soft-spoken. You can bet that if you were to go to a cafe with Paul Shenar‘s Alejandro Sosa, the Bolivian drug dealer in Scarface, that he wouldn’t be carrying on like these three nearby donkeys. Does Edward James Olmos bellow in cafes and cause guys like me to complain about him? I seriously doubt it.” — “Loud Latinos,” 6.21.10