Gary Gulman: It’s About Time (2016) | Transcript

Gary Gulman's "It's About Time" (2016) stand-up special is a hilarious and introspective look into his neurotic and brilliant mind
Gary Gulman: It's About Time (2016)

Imagine stepping into the mind of a comedic whirlwind: Gary Gulman. His 2016 stand-up special, “It’s About Time,” feels like a guided tour through the hilarious and neurotic alleys of his brain. He dissects everyday life with a surgeon’s scalpel, turning mundane moments like grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s into laugh-out-loud gold.

Picture yourself chuckling along as he confesses his epic meltdown in the frozen food aisle, or wincing in recognition as he recounts the struggles of navigating the latest tech gadget (while secretly wishing he still owned a flip phone). He’s a master of self-deprecation, turning his own anxieties into punchlines that are both relatable and absurdly funny.

But beneath the laughter, there’s a deeper layer. Gulman weaves in sharp observations about the world around him, poking fun at society’s quirks and human nature’s oddities. He doesn’t shy away from darker topics either, using humor to tackle his own battles with mental health, proving that vulnerability can be just as funny as bravado.

“It’s About Time” isn’t just a stand-up special; it’s an invitation into the world of Gary Gulman, a world where everyday anxieties transform into comedic masterpieces, uncomfortable truths turn into side-splitting revelations, and a trip to the grocery store becomes an epic adventure. So, strap yourself in, hold onto your sides, and prepare to laugh until your cheeks hurt, because it’s finally time to step into Gulman’s brilliant, messy, and undeniably hilarious mind.

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Ladies and gentlemen, Gary Gulman.

Thank you. Really, it’s… Thank you very much. That was… That was too much. Sometimes I do things that are so lazy, that I’m proud of it. The other night, I bought a movie on iTunes, that I own on DVD. Just so I wouldn’t have to get out of bed. I could’ve reached my DVDs. The collection was right there on my bed. I could’ve reached over to the shelf, grabbed the DVD. But then I thought to myself, “Yeah, but you’re not gonna be able to just flick it in there. You’re not a magician.” So I said, “You know what? If Shawshank Redemption is under $15 on iTunes, I’m buying it.” $14.99. And sold. And I was so thrilled. I told all my friends. They were proud of me. But then I told my older brother. He’s such a miser. He was angry. He was angry, and he… He has that Boston accent that’s just… It’s so thick. And I got rid of it, so people would understand what I was saying. And he just… He relishes it. He calls me Ga. He can’t even summon the energy to say, “Gar.” Ga! “Ga, what are you doing, Ga? What are you doing, kid? Come on, pal, buddy, chief, boss, dude, bro, guy, what are you doing buying a movie you already own, for $15?” I’m like, “What, it’s $15. Who cares about $15.” “No, it adds up, kid. It adds up, guy. $15 here, $15 there. It adds up, guy.” Not my philosophy. “It adds up.”

Please. Let me tell you something and pay attention because this is true. It only adds up if you add it up. You’re never gonna be $15 away from your dream house. But you’re always $15 away from owning Shawshank on iTunes. So get busy living or get busy dying. My mom called today. Um, she can only be reached by phone. She can’t text. She can’t email. She doesn’t have a computer. She uses telephone 1.0. It’s incredible. I almost admire it. It’s… How far the cell phone has been… We’re not satisfied with a telephone for nine months. They were satisfied with the telephone. It was invented in 1876. It didn’t become wireless till 1982. A 106 years till you could take it out of the kitchen. I’m aggravated that I can’t use my phone on an airplane. My mom was relegated to a three-foot radius around the refrigerator for a 106 years. Never said a word about it. Unbelievable. We have a completely different relationship with the phone. She talks to people on it. To me the phone is just this seldom used app on my phone. And if you use it on me, I am fucking furious. How dare you? You call me unprovoked, out of the blue. You text me first to see if I’m even accepting phone calls today. And I will text you back with a window.

It’s crazy that we even call the iPhone a phone. Calling it a phone is like calling a Lexus convertible a cup holder. An incredibly elaborate cup holder. I mostly use my phone to read. I read books on there all the time, and I’m blown away by it. You can download a book of 400 pages in eight seconds. Compare that to the delivery system I grew up with. The Scholastic Book Club. It took me 10 days to get my mom to write out a check, Ten business days, that was her policy. And the procedure was you’d bring in the check, the last Friday in September, they delivered the book, senior year of high school. I got my diploma and Hop on Pop the same afternoon. And my verbal reflected it. I read on it. I mostly use it to get information. Right, with Google and whatnot. And you could use… You could use the telephone to get information by calling 411. But you got very little information. You can still call them. Do you know that 411 is still in business? They’re not expecting your call. They used to answer it, “City and state.” They now answer, “You’re shitting me.” “How did you get this phone number?” “I memorized it.”

And they give you no information. Can you imagine asking a 411 operator for the information you can get from a simple five-second Google or Yelp search? “What listing?” “Um, every movie theater within a 25-mile radius of where I’m standing.” “Where are you standing?” “You tell me.” “Is that all?” “No. That’s far from all. I want movies and show times, I also want an alphabetical listing of all the actors. I want to know what else they’ve been in. I want a review of this movie. Also, I want to know if they’ve been in anything with Kevin Bacon. Then I want you to see if any of my friends are in the area. And if they are, I’d like you to see if they’re hungry. Find a Thai-fusion, Viking restaurant for us. Make us reservations and let them know that Anna is allergic to shell fish. Now play Born To Run. We want all our music on the phone. I can’t believe we had the gall to ask for that. “We want all our music on the phone.” “You want all your music on the phone?” “No, no, I’m sorry. I misspoke. We want all the music.” “Every song ever on my phone now.” “Okay, we can do that. But, like, what are you willing to pay for it?” “Senator, my offer is this. Nothing.” “Nothing. You kidding. I won’t even pay for the phone.” It’s incredible how far the phone has come. And why? Because we complain. We whine, “We want more. It’s too slow. The battery dies.”

And our parents’ phone sucked ’cause they never complained about anything. And I don’t know why? I think it was because they were just so happy to be alive. So, my parents are 88 and 83. They’re from The Greatest Generation. And I admire them. They never complained about anything, and they survived the worst times I can even think of. My parents lived through World War II, the Great Depression, the polio epidemic. Military draft. My father was drafted into World War II. We wouldn’t put up with that. A military draft. I won’t tolerate a cold air draft. If they open up two consecutive doors downstairs, and I get a breeze, I’m out of here, I walk. My father… They didn’t care. It’s incredible. A polio epidemic. Sixty thousand Americans a year would get polio. And you never even hear them talk about all the polio. They never bring it up. We got three cases of Ebola, the country shut down for six weeks.

The wanted to impeach the president. I saw pictures of President Obama with a Hitler mustache. A Hitler mustache, and I investigated.

I said, “How? How is he like Hitler?”

They said, “Socialized medicine.”

“Yeah, that wasn’t our big gripe with Hitler.”

Are you kidding me? We’re fine with the health care. President Obama appointed a Jewish woman to the Supreme Court. A Jew broad. To the Supreme Court. Whereas Hitler… Hitler was notorious for not hiring Jews. It was a real thing with him especially towards the end. My parents survived World War II, the Great Depression, the polio epidemic, military draft. Pulp. Pulp in their orange juice. Unregulated, unlimited pulp in their orange juice, never breathed a word about it. Then we came along, took one sip… “What was that?” Pulp? What is… There’s orange in my orange juice? Do something now!” And Tropicana rolled right over. Rolled right over. “All right. All right. The pulp is gone. We’ve gotten rid of all the pulp. Are you happy?” “Well…” “Well?” “Can we keep some?” “Can we keep some pulp?” “How much is some pulp?” “I don’t know. A pinch of pulp. A dash of pulp.”

My parents had three TV channels. We have three levels of pulp in our orange juice. We’re so spoiled. I wanted to recommend two documentaries. One, Helvetica. Riveting. Riveting. I’ve seen it twice. I gave it five stars. I loved it. And now you’re thinking, “Not the font.” Yeah, the font. “Wait a minute. Is it about fonts?” It’s about font. Helvetica. “Helvetica bold?” No. No, they didn’t have time to cover the more exotic fonts of the typeface. When you spend 20 minutes deconstructing a lowercase “M”, you’re not gonna have time to go into the kinkier forms. So that one was great.

Here’s another one. It’s about the men and one woman, who abbreviated all 50 states down to two letters. Now… This one comes with a little preface. Or if it’s the first time you’ve heard the word said out loud, a little “pre-face.” I was saying “pre-face” for a really long time. And then I heard it said out loud probably once, and I think, “Yeah, shit. I’m. I’ve been wrong for a long time. ‘Pre-face.’ Of course, of course, it’s preface. How long have I been saying ‘pre-face?’ How long have I had the verbal equivalent of spinach in my teeth?” It’s embarrassing. I was also saying “quino.” And then… And I’m still not. It’s “keen-wah.” It’s “keen-wah.” I don’t… I don’t… It sounds so pretentious. “Keen-wah.” My nose involuntarily rises when I say “keen-wah.” It’s spelled “quinoa”, it should be “quino.” But it’s “keen-wah.” ‘Cause of the type of people who eat it. “Keen-wah.” I don’t think it will be “keen-wah” everywhere. The South is not gonna put up with that. They resist health food and change with equal vigor. They honestly equate health food with homosexuality. I once ordered an egg white omelet in Knoxville, Tennessee. And yes, of course, I pronounced it egg “whaite” just to irritate them. Egg white… You would’ve thought I had ordered the balls-in-my-mouth. The way they reacted to me holding the yolks. So they’re not gonna say “keen-wah.” They’ll say “quino-” till they can come up with a folksy, but offensive nickname for it. “Y’all… Y’all try these Jew grits?” “Tell you what. You add a little bacon and butter to ’em, they ain’t bad, which is ironical ’cause them Heebs don’t care for bacon. So the preface is this. It’s a movie about the men and one woman who abbreviated all 50 states down to two letters. But if you’re too young or you don’t remember, there was a time in this country where every state had a different length abbreviation. It was chaos. Massachusetts was “M-A-S-S.” New York was “N-Y”. But like Utah was “Uta”. They just dropped the “H”. But then in like 1973, the post office said, “No, this can’t be anymore. We need uniformity. Every state must have a two capital-letter abbreviation.” So they brought together a crack squad of abbreviators. They assembled a rag-tag outfit of rogues, misfits, and ne’er-do-wells. “How often do well?” “Ne’er.” “E’er?” “No, ne’er.”

They ne’er did well. And these brave men and one woman were charged with abbreviating all 50 states down to two letters. Now I read the description and I thought to myself, “How are they gonna make a 98-minute documentary about a task that couldn’t have taken more than six minutes to complete.”

Boy, was I wrong. It was an adventure every bit as compelling as Helvetica. A tour de force. Ups and downs, ins and outs, friends became enemies. Enemies became friends. They started off, they thought it was gonna be easy. No. They said, “What’s the first one.” “Alabama.” “A-L. My God, this is easy. We’re gonna be finished before they stop serving breakfast in the hotel restaurant.” Which was 9:30. It’s too early. And the boss said, “Guys, if we finish before they stop serving breakfast, breakfast is on me.” And one of the guys said, “I hope they have an omelet station.” Just for context, the omelet station had just been invented, and understandably, it was sweeping the nation. This guy was thrilled. He was like, “I hope they have an omelet station.” And this other guy said, “You know what? I’m not comfortable with the Omelet station. I just feel like the omelet chef resents you. You know, ’cause he didn’t want to be the omelet chef he wanted to be the chef-chef. And now he’s making like the easiest dish while you and your ugly wife, and your stupid kids are watching him, demanding he put more ham cubes into a Denver omelet that’s already busting with cheese. And you get turkey-bacon, and now it’s healthy. No. I think, one day he’s gonna snap, and I don’t wanna be there when it happens.” And they said, “Well, then just get Eggs Benedict.” “I don’t like holiday sauce.” “Did you just say holiday sauce?” “It’s hollandaise, you fucking moron.” And the boss said, “Guys, can we get back to abbreviating the states, we still have 49 left.” Apologies were made and an understanding was reached, and they went back to abbreviating. They said, “What’s next?” “Alaska.” “Everybody cool with A-L?” But somebody caught it. “Sir, I think we might have used that one before.” “Are you sure?” “Pretty sure.” “Well, let’s just check the minutes. Dottie! Dottie, read the minutes back to us.”

Dottie was the wise-cracking secretary. Every 1970s office had a wise-cracking secretary. And 60% of them were named Dottie. The other 40%, Carol. But this one was Dottie, and she was a card. A… A pistol, a hot ticket. Dottie was sassy. They said, “Dottie, read the minutes back to us.” This is so Dottie. How Dottie is this? She goes, “You mean the minute.” That is quintessential Dottie. That is Dottie in a nutshell. He said, “Dottie. What are we gonna do with you?” “Spank my ass and make me a martini.” “Dottie. Dottie, you’re incorrigible. Now read the minutes back to us, you little vixen.” And she said, “It’s hollandaise, you fucking moron.” “Et tu, Dottie, et tu.” “How do you know Shakespeare, but you don’t know hollandaise? That is a paradox. Anyhow Alaska, A-L. Alabama, A-L. We did use that one before, boss.” And boss said… He was a leader, you gotta give him credit for this. He was a leader. He said, “Guys, not a big deal. We’ll come back to it. We’ll go ahead, we’ll circle back around, we’ll get it. It’s not gonna happen again.” Certainly not gonna happen 27 more times. Foreshadowing. “So what’s the next one?” “Arizona.” “A-R.” “Boom, I told you. Next.” “Arkan…” “Shit!” “All right. I’m sorry, guys. I… All right, all right. Let’s just keep going. We’ll come back… Come back to it. “California.” “C-A. All right. There we go.” “Colorado.” “C-O. Some momentum.” “Connecticut.” “Fuck me hard!” “Somebody needs a drink.” “Not now, Dottie!” “You vulgar lush.”

By the time they got to Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, followed by Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Missouri, shots were fired. They were at each other’s throats. They did what any savvy business would do. They hired a consultant. They brought in a contractor. Not a “con-tractor”. A “cun-tractor”. A man who made words smaller. By combining them or apostrophizing them. And he was the best. He was very respected in that field. He was very well-known because he had done some of the greatest abbreviations of all times. He wrote, “o’clock.” Many years ago, we would say, “It’s nine of the clock. It’s ten of the clock.” This man said, “We don’t need the ‘of-of.'” “I’ll do that with a sky comma.” That’s how long ago it was. The apostrophe hadn’t been named yet. He also wrote “Beli’e that?” Huge in some communities. He also wrote the most controversial abbreviation of all time. He wrote “won’t”. People said, “How are you gonna abbreviate ‘will not’ and not use a single ‘I’?” He said, “Watch me.” “What are you saying? I won’t be able to do it? I just did!”

Long story short, they made it on time for breakfast.

So, I’m a… I’m a Jewish man. Not, Not very religious. I believe in God. Not a fan. And I don’t know how we are… Why we are so dedicated to this God who is clearly trying to get rid of us. Honestly, I really believe that Judaism… We are the most dedicated group to God that I feel safe mocking. I just don’t know how we’re so dedicated. Every 75 pages of the Old Testament, we’re nearly wiped out. The Old Testament, which is like a compilation of Jewish suffering. The Old Testament is our Bible. The New Testament, tremendous sequel. Which is unusual because usually when you add a new character, late in a series, it goes off the rails. But Christianity, without a doubt, the most successful spin-off in entertainment history. I like to call Jesus the Frasier of Nazareth. I mean, just the Old Testament, we get our asses kicked so frequently. That book should be called, “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Which is a good book. He’s Just Not That Into You is an excellent book. More practical than the Bible. The Bible will tell you how many goats you owe your neighbor for stealing his wheat. But He’s Just Not That Into You gives you practical advice. Like if he doesn’t text you back the same day you text him, he’s just not that into you. If he asks you out for Saturday on Saturday, not that into you. This one’s kind of obscure. If he enslaves you in Egypt for 400 years… And then “delivers” you to the only strip of land in the Middle East without an oil well beneath it, not that into you. Not into you. It’s clear Yahweh wants to see other people. I’m not religious. I won’t wear… I won’t wear a yarmulke.

Even if God said, “I’ll let you into heaven, just wear the yarmulke.” “I’m good.” And the reason is so crass, but it’s the truth. The reason I don’t wear a yarmulke is because I wanna have sex with non-Jewish women. That’s my heaven. And they’re not into that look. That is not a look. No non-Jewish woman, looking at that guy… “He is so pious.” “Wow, I would wear a wig for that. A wig and a jeans skirt that scrapes across the sidewalk.” “I would gladly walk four paces behind that.” This, not a fetish. Not a fetish. You wanna stump PornHub? Type “orthodox Jew” into the search box. And then stand back because your computer will smoke. Not that religious. We’ve just been in too many scrapes over the years. My… This is great. My friend recommended a documentary to me recently about Hitler. It was about Hitler’s atrocities. But my friend, God love her, she couldn’t think of the word “atrocities”. She tried to cover for a second She went, “…” while she searched for a synonym. But it didn’t come out right.

She said, “Gary, I saw this very interesting documentary about Hitler’s… shenanigans.” Shenanigans. Not even close. And as a Jew, I’m obviously not overly sensitive, but when people trivialize Hitler’s monkey-business… When the Nazis hijinksed tomfoolery and ballyhoo is understated, I feel it does a disservice to the millions who were, inconvenienced… by Hitler’s mischief. “Tomay-toh, tomah-toh” Shenanigans, genocide. Now… Now, I’d like to tell you a story of a meltdown I had at Trader Joe’s. First of all, let me preface this.- Let me preface this by saying that I love Trader Joe’s. I love them. They are so nice. They all do each other’s jobs. There’s no hierarchy. There’s… I… It sounds Communist. And maybe it’s Communist. But at least it’s not Soviet world code… Communism. I would characterize the Communism at Trader Joe’s as Narnian. Narnian during the reign of Aslan, the lion. Obviously, it’s not gonna be the White Witch. God forbid. During the reign of Aslan, the lion. Aslan, the lion, let me add… The most obvious Christ figure in the history of literature. I called it in fifth grade, and I’m a Jew. When we got to the part in The Lion, Witch, Wardrobe where Aslan dies, and the kids were weeping. They were so distraught. And I remember, I was so cool, I said, “Hold your tears. If this goes where I think it’s going, he’ll be back on Sunday.” And sure enough… They’re so nice at Trader Joe’s. They always compliment me on one of the items I chose. It feels so good. Like, “Have you tried the olive oil popcorn?” And I always make the same adorable quip. I always say, “Tried it. I can barely keep it in stock.” Let me tell you why that’s funny. I’m not the purchasing agent for a grocery store. I’m just a guy. They compliment me on my item. They know what to do because I bring my own bag, and they know what to do with it. A lot of grocery stores, they’re dumbfounded by that. I’ve had them put my reusable bag into a plastic bag.

“Did you think that your store sells PBS tote bags, is that what you thought? No, no, no. That’s only available with a $100 contribution.” Yeah, I contribute along with the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The Bill and to-a-lesser-extent Melinda Gates Foundation. The Chubb Group. What age do you get to when you don’t laugh when you say, “Chubb Group.” And viewers like me. I bring my own bag. That tells you everything you need to know about me. Thoughtful, environmentally conscious, good lover. Patient, attentive lover. That’s what that says. Bring my own bag. And a lot of times… Now this is… You’re gonna be like, “This is insignificant, but I’m gonna show you something that they do at Trader Joe’s that makes me so happy. I pay with a credit card, and I have to go to sign the receipt, and a lot of times I have my tote bag over my shoulder. So I can’t get leverage with two… I don’t have two hands available. I can’t get leverage. And at Trader Joe’s, they subtly, very subtly put their hand on the top of the receipt and give me that leverage, so I can make that quality signature. And it’s the most intimate moment of my day. When that person looks at me, and without saying a word says, “You’re not alone.” “Thank you. Thank you.”

And I can feel my brain awash in serotonin and dopamine. I can. And then… Then I read this study… I didn’t… I didn’t read a study. It was a summary of a study. All right, I read this summary of a study that psychiatrists did where these little interactions during the day, the “hello” to a neighbor, the, “Hey, nice weather we’re having,” or whatever. Any of those little interactions during the day, raise your level of serotonin and dopamine in your brain. Serotonin and dopamine, that’s the same thing you get from your… From your Prozac, your Zyprexa, your Effexor, your Celexa. Whatever you use to drive over the bridge without getting out of the car. I won’t judge you. I’m on everything but roller skates right now. They’re so nice at Trader Joe’s. They always ask me if I found everything I was looking for today. And I don’t even think it’s limited to their inventory. I honestly believe that if I told the cashier, “Well, today… Today I couldn’t find a friend.” I feel like she would stop everything and say to her boss, “Bev, Bev, I’m gonna take my 15-minute early, if that’s okay. This young man needs a ear and I have two of them.”

I don’t write for women well, I apologize. That’s the knock on me. They say, “Did you find everything you were looking for,” at other grocery stores, but they don’t mean it. They don’t mean it. They’re just saying it just in case you’re the undercover shopper. They don’t mean it. They just want you to get out of the store. Just say yes. “Did you find everything you’re looking…” Just say yes. And get out of the store. What am I gonna hold up the line because you couldn’t find your 100-calorie Oreo cookies. Hundred-calorie Oreo cookies are such a scam. They’re such a scam. They’re neither Oreos nor cookies. They’re chocolate-flavored oyster crackers. Which is fine if the soup of the day is marshmallow bisque. But it’s lentil. It’s always lentil. At least where I sup. At Trader Joe’s, they ask if you found everything you were looking for today, I followed up with them. I said, “Well, last week I was here, and I got some fair trade, conflict-free pumpkin seeds. And this week all I could find is the conventional, the unfair trade, blood pumpkin seeds.” Depicted in the ever-so traumatizing documentary, Blood Pumpkin Seeds. I said, “Are you out of them?” She said, “Did you check all 60 of our snack aisles?” “I did. I even checked all 35 of your trail mix varieties. Nine of which contain M&M’s, how are you getting away with that? Please, point me to this trail where I can pick candy-covered chocolate with Times New Roman M’s typed on the side.” I said, “I couldn’t find them.” That’s when she rang a bell, and the stock boy, who’s also the chief financial officer, he came running up the aisle with my pumpkin seeds, and a bottle of spiced cider that he said might be a fine compliment, and it was. It was. It was the Pinot Noir to my pumpkin seeds Chilean sea bass, I shit you not. “‘Might be?’ Why you humble son of a bitch.” So, now of course, that begs the question, “How did you have a meltdown in this Shangri-La? “How did you lose your mind in this Xanadu?” The people who shop there. Godless savages. They’re pushy, they’re aggressive, they’re hostile, they cheat. You say, “How do you cheat at a grocery store.”

It’s easy. You put your cart in the checkout line with a few items in it, and then you abandon it, and go get more things, and bring it back, and shuttle back and forth. And don’t worry, the schmuck behind you will push the cart forward when the line moves. And I was that schmuck. I was that schmuck, that putz, that yutz that schmendrick, that schlemiel, that schmegegge, that schlub, that zhlob, that schmo, that schnook. Eskimos have a 100 different words for snow, Jews, we have a 100 different words for loser. ‘Cause we have so many fucking cousins. And then, recently my tune changed. I said, “You know what? I’m sick of pushing their cart forward.”

They’re taking advantage, they never come back and say thank you, they never apologize. So I have a new policy, when the line goes ahead, I go ahead of their cart, and strictly because I’m spiteful and vengeful, I steal an item from their cart. And I am diabolical. I always pick an item that will cause domestic strife were it to go missing. And then, I just fantasize about said strife. I’ve got this whole fantasy in my head about the husband coming home, and he just wants to put on his salmon-colored slacks, pop his collar and watch The O’Reilly Factor. But he wants a snack. And his wife was at Trader Joe’s today. So he goes into the kitchen, and he starts looking through all the brown paper bags on the island in the kitchen. One, brown paper bags, they don’t recycle these. Two, they have an island in their kitchen. Do you know how wealthy you have to be to have an island in your kitchen in New York City. A land mass in your kitchen. Do you know how wealthy you have to be to have a kitchen in your kitchen in New York City. And they have an island. I hate them already. And he’s going through, and he’s becoming increasingly angry.

“She got the cookie butter. Of course, she got the cookie butter. She got The Trader Jose’s salsa, of course. Where the fuck is my Kashi Go Lean Crunch carrot? I’ve got the Crunch. I have the Crunch. And it’s marinating in almond milk as he loses his mind. The other thing I like to do, and this is strictly… Well, this is community service. I invite any elderly women in the vicinity to cut ahead with me. You say, “How do you get elderly women to join you in your pursuits?” I appeal to their vanity. I say, “Come on, girls.” When elderly women are referred to as “girls”, for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis… They light up. One of the women was so overcome with lust, she was fanning herself with her hand, which any third grade teacher will tell you is futile. Fanning herself with her had, she said,”Young man, young man, if you had any idea how old I am.” And I said, “Phyllis… Phyllis, I have some idea how old you are. The fact that the department of Commerce discontinued the first name Phyllis in 1933, I can ballpark it, you randy minx.”

The only thing with the elderly, they’re The Greatest Generation people, so, they’re rule followers. They’re like, “What’s gonna happen when the woman comes back to the cart?” “Well, Rose, Blanche…” “Dorothy… There’ll be a showdown, and I’ll handle it.”

I know what we’re dealing with here. I’ve profiled this criminal. Based on the time of day, and the neighborhood, I know what she’s gonna look like. 3:00 p.m. Upper West Side. Wealthy. Also, she’s shopping healthy, which means she exercises, she works out. She’s gonna have that body because she goes to pilates, yoga, soul cycle. She’s gonna have that combination body where the head doesn’t really match. ‘Cause there’s no yoga pose for the face. So you have these minotaurs walking around the city, with the lower body of a yoga instructor, and the head of a Komodo dragon. And that’s what came back to the cart. That’s what came back to the cart, armful of frozen foods. Now why is that significant? Well, at this particular TJ’s where I trade, it means she went downstairs to frozen foods. It’s a 10-minute round trip. The audacity. Nay. The temerity. To go downstairs to frozen foods, come back with an armful and said, and I quote, “Yeah, no.” She said “yeah,” but then she said “no”. I hate that expression so much. It is the ultimate in passive aggressive. They get your hopes up with the “yeah”, only to dash them upon the rocks of “no”. “Yeah, no. I was ahead of you.” I hate, “Yeah, no.” It’s my third most hated expression. Number three is, “Yeah, no.” Number two, “At the end of the day.” I hate, “At the end of the day”. They think they’re so smart, starting their sentences with, “At the end of the day”. And they really wind it off with, “At the end of the day…”

Look… They say so much and say nothing. They just go on and on with these little… Look, listen, nothing, nothing. I’m just thinking out loud here. Here’s the thing. The thing is, when it comes right down to it, when all is said and done, when push comes to shove, at the end of the day, it is what it is. Just saying. At the end of the day, I’m just saying… Those people… I hate… I hate them, I hate them. It’s wrong to hate somebody for their expressions, but I do it. At the end of the day, they think they’re so… And then, they drop some empty cliche on you.

“At then end of the day, it’s all about family and community.”

“When? When? At the end of the day?” What is it at breakfast? Hookers and cocaine. Is that what it’s about? Just let me plan my day.”

And, “Just saying.” “I’m just saying.”

They always were just saying something irritating, offensive, or ignorant. Nobody said anything brave or courageous, and then backtracked with, “I’m just saying.” “Give me liberty, or give me death. I’m just saying.” “I know those are two stark alternatives, but… I just want you to know I mean it.” “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Hey, I’m just saying. If you have the time. I don’t wanna inconvenience you.”

No. It’s always some Facebook status update. Offensive. “I never had any trouble with bears in my backyard before we elected a black president. I’m just saying.” “I’m not saying there is a correlation, I’m not saying there ain’t a correlation, it could be specious.” But this… This woman said, “Yeah, no. I was ahead of you.” And so I said, “No, yeah.” I flipped it. I said, “No, yeah. You were ahead of me, then you went shopping.” “You can’t go downstairs to frozen foods, come back with an armful, and take your spot in line. The best I can offer you at this point, ma’am, is back cuts. I feel that’s incredibly generous considering the Golden Girls have minutes to live.”

And I wish I could say it ended there, but it didn’t. She got violent. After I said that she couldn’t go ahead of me, she just rammed ahead. She rammed me in the basket with her cart, sprained my wrist, crushed my lentil chips, rendering them useless. It’s for dipping not topping. And I just stood there… I don’t know what I was looking for. A bouncer, I don’t know. I don’t know what I was looking for. It’s Trader Joe’s, and I’m like, “Will somebody… Will somebody say something?” I was like, now I gotta say something. I gotta take a stand. At Trader Joe’s, I gotta take a stand.” I don’t wanna take a stand. The most stand I’ll take is I’ll insist on a booth of Cheesecake Factory, all right, it’s more comfortable. But I don’t like to take a stand. But I said, “No, there’s no way. I have to. I have to say something. This aggression will not stand.”

So I took a stand, right. I’ve seen stands taken. You need a gesture and a slogan. And all I could come up with was… I used the black power symbol, which is completely inappropriate, from the 1968 Mexican Olympics. I raised my fist. But the slogan was even worse. I said, “This isn’t fair.” And like higher-pitched and whinier than that. It came out so bad. My voice was shaking… “This isn’t fair.”

And in my… In my fantasy, it stared a groundswell of support, and the people rallied behind me and they said, “You know, I’m glad you said something.” Nothing. There was silence. There was no chanting of USA. There was silence. Except for one guy behind me who said, “Here we go.” Then I looked to the perimeter for support. And all there was was an eerie glow. As the people raised their phones, and switched from “pic” to “vid”. “No! I have seriously miscalculated the political climate of this Trader Joe’s. They are not ripe for revolution.” And I would have backed down. I’m just saying, you know. I was gonna back down. But then the woman who cut me… She couldn’t leave well enough alone. She woke this sleeping giant. I said, “This isn’t fair.” She turned around and she said, “You’ll get over it.” “You don’t know me at all.” You have just ensured I will never… I will never get over it. I am sensitive. And I hold a grudge. I have had axes I have been grinding since second grade. There is no way I will get over this. I will be bringing it up on my deathbed. My last words will be, “This isn’t fair.”

It will become my rose bud. People will analyze, “What could he have meant by, ‘This isn’t fair.’ Life is too short? Life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing. No, no! A woman cut him in line 56 years ago at Trader Joe’s. The freak never got over it. I swear to you. Even though she said that he would.” So I knew I wouldn’t get over it. So I… So I had a, counter attack. I picked up my basket, but I didn’t make the same mistake twice. I didn’t want to get inside of me. So I picked up my basket, I jabbed fake left, she bit. So I crossed over to get the baseline on her, but she was spry. She spun and rammed me once again in the basket with her cart. But I was so drunk with righteous anger, that I screamed, “That’s assault. That is assault. Ring the bell. I’ve been struck.” “I’ve been struck.” That’s when she realized she’d been out-crazied. ‘Cause, you know, think about it, I’ve never said, “I’ve been struck.” Nobody has said, “I’ve been struck,” since the 19th century. I’ve been struck went out with, “Good day, sir. I said, ‘Good day, sir.'” “Good day, sir,” of course, the go-fuck-yourself of 1876. What a splendid time in American history. We’d just say a greeting in an angry tone, and everybody knew you meant business. So she started her retreat. She said, “Fine, you know what, fine. Fine. Go ahead of me. If it’s that important to you.” It is. If what’s that important to me? Justice? Yeah, justice is that important to me. It’s the cornerstone of my philosophy. But she says, “Just know. Just know you’re allowed to leave your cart in New York City. That’s how it works.” “Yeah, no.”

That’s… That is not how it works at all. I know how it works. I’ve been operating grocery carts since I was 11 years old. My mom felt I was mature enough not to ruin old ladies’ Achilles Heels with the cart. I know how it works. Let me show you how it works. All right. Here’s your cart. Here’s your foot. Anything you can reach without lifting your foot off the ground, you can put into your cart. You cannot lift your leg, get on an escalator, go downstairs to frozen foods, come back with an armful of Skinny Cows and Amy’s organics, because you would’ve lifted your pivot foot, and that, my dear, is a travel. And I’m calling it. Had she just asked, I assure you, had she just asked, if she had just said, “Do you mind if I go downstairs to frozen foods? I forgot Skinny Cows. And I’m craving something sweet. I only have three points left today.” I’d say, “I know of Skinny Cows. Two points, how?” “I love Skinny Cows. I can barely keep them in stock.” I would say, “Go, go. Get your Skinny Cows. Godspeed.”

‘Cause that’s the truth about Americans, and even New Yorkers. We love, love doing favors for strangers. Strangers. Not our family. They can go fuck themselves. For a stranger, I will bend over backwards to show them I am not the person my family said I am. All right. This next one… Not as long. I’m, um… I’m not hungry. I just ate some very filling Greek yogurt. It’s so thick and creamy, and it’s quickly become my favorite ethnic yogurt. And, no, it wasn’t a very crowded field. There was pretty much just, Yoplait. Which I never liked. Yoplait. I couldn’t put my finger on it for the longest time. And it’s this. The French. Even in their yogurt, cannot hide their disdain for American values and sensibilities. First of all, they mix the fruit for you. That’s not America. Not the America I know. No. We like fruit at the bottom. And guns.

But the French… “The Americans with their freedom. Well, we will take one freedom back. The freedom to mix blueberries as they see fit. These animals, they have taste up their asses. They don’t know how to mix the fruit. We will mix the fruit for them, and we will not stop there. We will also put the yogurt into a container that tapers to the top. It will taper to the top so that these fat bastards think they’re getting more yogurt. But they’re getting less yogurt, I assure you, they’re getting less yogurt. And then, we will make the hole on the top of the container so small, so small, that they can’t get their shoveled-sized American spoons in there. They call them spoons. They should be brought to the beach to make sand castles. They’re so enormous.”

And then, finally, for how they say the… The piece of resistance. “We will smear half of the yogurt onto the tin foil cap, and watch these animals lick all French.” “I’m still hungry. I’m still hungry. Is there any more yogurt to fill my fat belly? Look, there’s some crusting residue clinging to the inner rim. I will lick underneath there.” “But we’ve made it razor sharp.”

Thank you so much, everybody. This was awesome. Thank you. Thanks for coming. Good night. Thank you. I really appreciate it.


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