Norm doesn’t care much for Kim Kardashian. Or Blue Ivy, for that matter.
“That name,” he slurs over a 99-cent cheeseburger, “is stupid. My mom’s name was Mary. She lived 72 years. Mary. Mary.”
A valid point, Norm. Especially from the likes of a clearly intoxicated fellow traveler with a mouth that seems incapable of containing the river of saliva within. Here’s a little airport advice from the terminally chilled-out — say it, don’t spray it, my friend.
Norm isn’t his real name, by the way. Like all the 5’11” white guys out there with wire-rimmed glasses, untamed Dumbledore beards and breath smelling vaguely of cabbage — or maybe fermented Mad Dog, I couldn’t tell — who stumble over vacant seats, gracing unassuming women with their presence, Dave, 62, of Decatur, Ill. wanted to make his presence known.
“Like that guy who keeps painting over the Moaning Lisa, what is he — Banksy? British, I think. Do you have any gum that’s not this green shit?”
No, Norm, only spearmint, but thanks for asking. We sat across from each other: two strangers patiently waiting for a flight that would invariably arrive late. I anticipated the curiously angry stares from flight attendants — after all, it was my fault westerly winds had distracted the pilot from being distracted by bosoms of Southeast Asian women eager to refill coffee on that return flight from Dallas.
I hadn’t by any means invited Norm to sit next to me — I mean, he smelled weird — but I suppose we were both a little lonely. After all, his flask was running dry and I had already listened to all of the Tom Petty on my iPod. Twice. And aside from the difficulty I faced trying not to stare at that weird mole on his neck, it was almost enjoyable. Well, as enjoyable as strange, old, dirty companionship can get for a misanthrope.
And then he started talking. Preaching. What had happened to America? What’s with society’s mindless infatuation with celebrities? Where was the bathroom near this gate? And what was worse — I started to listen.
“You know there’s something wrong with this country when babies, who haven’t even done a goddamn thing, get more panties in a bunch than anything else in the paper. I mean, I swear to God,” he garbled, as my face crimsoned and I began planning my conversational getaway. “You know that Blue Ivy baby kept regular parents out of the ICU? Yep, in just one day of living that infant was so valuable that security guards kept new parents from seeing their babies. And I can’t even get my landlord to get off my ass.”
And so on and so forth. Norm had a lot of issues — most related to alcohol — but in the hour I spent with him in the airport terminal, it became clear that society’s insatiable appetites for all things shiny and famous drove him mad. And with his blood alcohol content, he really shouldn’t have been driving anything.
“Everything’s just so… shallow… these days. No one gives a damn about anyone that ain’t pretty. It ain’t like how it used to be. I mean, in the 60s…”
He paused, sinking into what appeared to be memories of weed and Woodstock past. Then he began talking again, but I started picking my teeth and zoned out for a while, so we’ll move along to the parts I did write down.
“I mean everyone that’s anyone now got that way because they paid their way. It’s all about the money… fame… iPhone… WiFi… the Blackberry… ”
Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.
“Everybody ain’t worth nothing now. Jus’ think about it. Like that skunk-haired chubby and the Paris…” — Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, The Simple Life — “…and the twins, the skinny wide-eyed nothings from California…” — The Olsen twins, maybe — “…the damn fuck from the movies that won’t shut up about who’s-it-what’s-it from wherever, you know”
Okay, I legitimately have no idea who that might be.
“But it just don’t make any sense. We’ve got people all wrapped up in the lives of people they’ll never meet, giving a damn about the weddings and the shows and the I-don’t-know-what’s. But let me try to get a damn cigarette from anyone in this fucking city and. I. Won’t. Get. One. No one’s even gonna look at me.”
In everyone else’s defense, that mole was horrifying. But maybe he was onto something. The cult of the celebrity is everywhere in America. It’s on our televisions. It’s in our movies. It’s in our sewers. And if we don’t stop and take a second to think about what we’re digesting, we’re going to end up with pizza-eating green turtles crawling out of underground conduits with stupid catchphrases and dumb headbands that will later be sold in Hot Topic and even later will embarrass every last alternative middle-schooler.
It’s something to think about. But for now, I’ve got a plane to catch.