It’s a futile exercise, but once in a while, I do it anyway. I indulge in a little nostalgia for things that used to be. New York Seltzer. Grunge fashion. The theme to The Larry Sanders Show. These things made me genuinely, stupidly happy until, like gnat carcasses, they were wiped clean from the windshield of our whizzing culture.
But when I take my deliberately slow and doubtlessly ill-advised stroll down Reminisce Road, there’s something I find I miss more than anything else, something I never truly appreciated until it was gone — the asshole.
Have you noticed it doesn’t exist anymore? In bygone eras, they were everywhere you looked. The guy who refused to leave a tip, the boss who dumped work on your desk at 5:15, the driver who pulled in front of you and slammed on her brakes.
Different generations had different names for these loathsome blights on common courtesy. Shakespeare called them knaves, pignuts, clotpoles. Early Americans denounced them as scalawags and reprobates. Your grandpa may have cursed the neighborhood lout, heel, or cad.