The Plague We Deserve (UPDATED)

This morning in the gym, I saw a guy wearing a shirt with a slogan in beautiful copperplate script.  It said: Fuck off.

At first I thought it might be a punk band shirt or something — not excusable by any means, but at least understandable, I suppose. But no. That was the whole of the message: Fuck off.

Since nobody gets custom shirts screen-printed, what must’ve happened was, someone out there sensed a market for a shirt saying “fuck off.” He ordered up a bunch of them, advertised them, and this guy bought one. Which means he either specifically went looking for a shirt that says “fuck off,” or he hangs out on the kinds of websites where a person selling a t-shirt reading “fuck off” would trawl for potential customers.

Ladies and gentlemen, Current Year America!!

Days like today, I wish the Kung Flu really was the extinction-level event the Branch Covidians make it out to be. That’s the plague we deserve.

UPDATE: An interesting divide in the comments. I can guess your decade of birth by your response.

Born before 1960, you can’t imagine anyone wearing such a shirt. You can do it *intellectually*, but you’ll never really believe it happened.

Born after 1990, you don’t really see what the big deal is. Sure, It’s crass, but welcome to the 21st century, Grandpa.

Born to Gen X, though, and you can believe it happened… but only because you believe the guy must’ve been looking for a fight. We’ve discussed Fight Club here. The reason it worked at the time was, even if you were the soulless yuppie Ed Norton type, you knew that out in the sticks there were places to go if you wanted to have a fight… and lots of people did. I never indulged myself, but even I knew of a dive bar where you could walk in wearing your preppie college boy stuff if you wanted to… and someone was guaranteed to say something about it, and you could then invite him outside. It was something of a right of passage for guys in certain frats, even in my day (early 1990s). You can probably ask Pickle Rick to confirm this, but I heard that frat dudes from San Diego State and Marines from Camp Pendleton pretty regularly got into it on Friday nights, again as a rite of passage, not that long ago.

For us, in other words, a “Fuck off” t shirt can only mean that the wearer is looking to start a fight.

For the Millennials, though (I doubt this guy was even 30), it’s just part of that general “make yourself as obnoxious as possible all the time” thing that they do.

 

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22 thoughts on “The Plague We Deserve (UPDATED)

    1. Severian Post author

      Which is what got me thinking more about rat utopia at the other site.

      Wearing a sword or pistol was an open invitation to a challenge. You could probably get away with faking it… but you paid the highest possible penalty if you were wrong. Similarly, wearing that kind of shirt out to a blue collar bar, even today, in the non-pozzed parts of the country will probably end with you getting a pool cue broken over your head.

      It’s only in a modern American middle-class gym here in a nice suburban part of Flyover Country that you can do such a thing with impunity. Judging by the fact this dude was mainly working out on machines, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t last long… and yet, there he is.

      1. Pickle Rick

        Circling back to weird historical shit and rat utopia-
        We’re the first culture in the history of ever to actually put words on our clothing. Seriously, think about it. Your class, status, everything about YOU, back before around 1970 going back to the fucking invention of clothing, was the subtle clues of color, cut, fabric, and the other myriad details of your clothing. Now, we’ve gotten clothing that’s practically a uniform, where the rich and the poor wear exactly the same thing, so we have to literally write slogans on our clothing- or corporate advertising.

        1. Recusant

          Well, yes and no.

          Sartorial standards are a mess – grown men dressing in children’s play clothes and the notion that dressing like an adult is restricting/ boring/out-of-date – and there is probably not a lot we can do about it, but it doesn’t mean that, as individuals, we should not try.

          I make a point of ‘dressing up’: it takes just as long to put on a pair of decent trousers – sorry, pants – as it does a pair of ‘lounge pants’ (God help us). It might be easier for me, in London, to find decent outfitters, tailors and cordwainers, but it’s not impossible for anybody in the West.

          My wife used to be dubious of my notion of dressing formally on our travels, but then she saw how I was treated by the locals in India and Africa, in contrast to how they treated the standard slovenly dressed Westerner in his comfort clothes. You honour others by dressing well for them and they repay the honour by treating you well.

          1. Clown World

            It’s remarkable how much importance a lot of asians put on your appearance, especially dress and shoes, some of them will actually assume you are poor based on the way you are dressed. It took me a while to understand this because, like, how does wearing casual clothes and flip flops say anything about how much money I might have, but it sure does to some of them…

          2. Codex

            My experience as well travelling as a young college student in France: sensible flats, oxford cloth shirts, mid-calf linen skirts, and my hair in two neat plaits.

            I never ran into the French snottery so many of my peers did, despite my miserable excuse for pronounciation.

  1. texinole

    What a crass Neanderthal. He should wait until he’s safely at home, clicking anonymously through blogs, before uttering such impolite dreck.

    / fans self until fainting and falling off tasteful chaise

    1. Severian Post author

      I take your point, I think, but there was a time — well within living memory — that someone wearing a t-shirt that says “Fuck Off” would be invited to step outside pretty much everywhere he went. Not because of any concern with coarse language and public standards of decorum, but because them’s fightin’ words. Me fuck off? No, YOU fuck off!

  2. MBlanc46

    I try to imagine the reaction to such a display in the Chicago suburb in which I grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s. I believe the reason that I’m having a hard time doing so is that no one—no one—would have done such a thing there and then. The thought would not—could not—have occurred to anyone. I resist contemplating the destruction of this world because in my mind, it’s still that world. But it is not that world. That world exists only in the memories of the aged and the aging. So just burn it down.

    1. ganderson

      Mr. Blanc you are correct- there were no laws against wearing such a shirt, because no one, not even criminals and other assorted nogoodniks, could have imagined anyone doing such a thing. As I’ve said many times before I want the world I grew up in back.

      1. ganderson

        I’m a year younger than you, and grew up in the central city- not Chicago, but a smaller Midwest metropolis. It was paradise. There was nowhere we wouldn’t go- and even though the black neighborhood wasn’t as nice as ours, we weren’t afraid to go there, and it was paradise compared to today.
        I notice in passing that David Dinkins, probably not an evil man, but one of the worst mayors in NYC history has shed his mortal coil.

        1. Severian Post author

          I can’t say about Dinkins, but I truly feel sorry for the over-promoted Blacks who are honestly trying… and they are legion, or at least they were 30 years ago, before the rot set in permanently.

          My first boss in my first “boiler room” job in college was like that. Hell of a guy, he always had your back, we all respected him as a person… but so obviously over his head that it would’ve been hilarious if not so sad. We developed workarounds, as White people do, but the #1 unwritten rule of the office was ironclad: Do not, under any circumstances, force Larry to make a decision (that was really his name; he must be long retired, or I’d worry about outing him, as he was the only Black guy in the history of the USA to have been named Larry). In the few cases where it was unavoidable that Larry would have to make the call, the whole office did the duck-and-cover drill.

          This was 30 years ago. He might well be dead by now, and if he is, he undoubtedly went to his grave thinking he was a great manager. How could he know otherwise? All the guys liked him, his office ran smoothly, the job got done, done well, and done on time….

    2. dave b

      I grew up in the western suburbs in that glorious time – I tell people I am among the luckiest humans to ever live, as being born in 1953 in the white USA was winning the ultimate trifecta. I left years ago but from what I hear from people left behind, the joggers and the muzzies have taken over. Being born in the USA of 2020 is like being born a white person in South Africa.

  3. Southern Belle

    And it is so very wrong to have the vulgar words in copperplate, a beautiful classic calligraphic hand!
    From the ladies’ view, hat pins were our weapons of choice until laws were passed to limit the length of them to 9 inches or less. Any longer required a permit! I keep mine within the lawful limits…

  4. DeaconBlues

    I always thought someone wearing a shirt like that was sending a signal that they were looking for a fight. Maybe he was looking to start his own Fight Club.

  5. Fifteenth Reader

    Just a few years ago thousands of women showed up to a march in hats made to look like their private parts. Nothing surprises me any more.

  6. urbando

    I was born before 1960, true, but I find a “Fuck Off” t-shirt not surprising at all; merely emblematic of the vulgarity and cheapness of our times. My own language is a product of the times yet I would never utter four-letter words around Mom or anyone of her generation. Nor around my children. Time and a place for everything and all that rot.

  7. texinole

    In high school we had a pansy fight club (with 10oz boxing gloves and out of shape wannabes throwing up from body punches) because if you went looking for a fight – as a right of passage or otherwise – you were far more likely to get stabbed or shot. But we young men needed some kind of violence in our life so we did what we could. A “fuck off” tshirt simply doesn’t rate a notice from me.

    1. Rangifer

      Agreed. That Window has been pushed too far left to even care. Remember how naughty Carlin’s 7 words were? How Eddie Murphy used to be described as “foul mouthed”? That’s not even a blip on the RADAR these days.

  8. Codex

    Out from the far side of the peanut gallery; It could be a reference to a band or a comic strip or some other fandom, that the chap purchased on a whim. It stuck his funny bone or it was clever in context.

    So many people living in their alienated bubbles, no common culture at all.

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