Diary of a Curmudgeon: The Unwritten Rules

Diary of a Curmudgeon: The Unwritten Rules

Editor’s Note: Once again we are back with another off-fthe-wall installment of our favorite Curmudgeon, Dave. Also, once again, as my lawyer has advised me, I should throw out the caveat that the sentiments of Dave are solely Dave’s and not that of our own. And as a further measure of due diligence we have made sure to make sure that Dave’s ex is still alive and well and not “decaying” somewhere in the AZ wastelands.

Someone drag my drunk-ass off the dance floor.  Why do I always let myself get sucked in?  Like Michael Corleone, I swear I keep chanting: “Just when I though I was out . . . they pull me back in!”  Bleh.  What are you talking about, you ask?  Bar debates, of course.  Yeah, BAR DEBATES.  You know, politics, religion, sports history and trivia, the coolest new iPhone app, the best way to destroy or hide an ex-lover’s decaying body — the usual verbal train wrecks.  And time and time again, I’ll be sitting there at the bar, sipping my green fairy juice, minding my own schizophrenic business, and some ten-gallon oversized belt-buckled dude sporting the latest Texan-nation fashion weekly checkered shirt will be drawling away, just barely within earshot, about how the 49’ers could never hope to match up against the Permian Panthers from Odessa.  He’s convinced that those commie-loving left-coast wannabe granola-heads could never beat a Texan like Billy Bob Thornton?  Push comes to shove, he’d just sling blade them … mmhmmm (by the way, I think he is right).

Well I did it again — stuck my nose right into a senseless bar debate that my brain was doing everything it could to avoid.  And I say bar debate instead of bar fight – only to distinguish it from a true John Wayne haymaker-throwing, bust a bottle over your head, break the mirror, Hollywood bar fight.  Dust yourself off there Pilgrim.  Let’s lassouuu us some fillies.

These modern “bar fight” verbal versions rarely involve anything so civilized as actual brutality.  But they almost always involve enough raw Billy goat anger to qualify under any other OED definition as a “fight” (Oxford English Dictionary, you Bedouin Bozo).  So I will politely call them a debate – yeah, that’s what it is – just like being in a Cambridge University Rhodes Scholar striped-tie competition discussing the pros and cons of forced selective genetic-based human sterilization in third-world countries.  Hey, Texas is a third-world country, isn’t it?  Okay, I’m down.  I rest my case your Eminent Lordship [insert photo of me bowing gently in a white curly wig here].

Well this time, the debate was about whether it is against the secret baseball rules to attempt to break up a no-hitter in the eighth inning with an attempted bunt (next week they will debate whether it’s okay to do so in the ninth inning).  Seriously?  I mean where do they come up with these topics?  Someone honestly thought about this and discussed it, argued it – for hours and hours.   “It’s one of those ‘unwritten’ rules” Mr. Dallas Texas, nation of rhubarb-brained peawits, argued loudly, between Wild Turkey shots – just where I was close enough to hear.  Dammit.

“Wait a minute,” I interjected — my mouth quite on its own, and without my consent, deciding to join the fray.  “Unwritten rules?” I ask.  “That’s against the law.  In fact, it’s against the Constitution.”  My mouth was trying to show it didn’t need to engage my brain to look smart in an otherwise alcoholic-zombie infested 1:00 am Bud bar.  Apparently I decided that in order to cement my Mensa gold-medal membership, I would first need to show I know more than these grain-brain-soaked losers.  So the war of wits started.

“What do you mean, the Constitution,” Texas Dudley-Do-Right said, as he straightened up in his one-leg-short bar stool, impressively keeping his balance.    “How does the Constitution apply to baseball?” was his obviously ill-bred and utterly brainless attempt at a comeback.  Duh!

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I retorted, “The Constitution is American, baseball is American, how can you have fair baseball without keeping the Constitution?” (FYI harsh cross examination is always a good debate bar tactic).  I offered to call Tony Larussa for a second opinion, but in the meantime he had fallen over face first into his chili, dead asleep from cheap whiskey stupor, so I let him off the hook without kicking his ass.  I was a little upset when the bartender helped him start breathing again, but it’s just probably my bias against bleeding heart commie liberals who just don’t know the Constitution the way I do.  I should get over it… Okay, maybe later.

Anyway, my foray into dive-bar cave-man territorial peeing contests made me think about the whole concept of unwritten rules.  Sports and life are full of these little runty bastards, and it’s only when you unknowingly break one of these hidden rules that you get yelled at from all sides.  It’s certainly an oxymoronic idea (as opposed to the oxy-cotton stoned moron at the bar next to me) to suggest that such rules exist, but that we decide it’s a good idea to not write them down – to keep them secret.  I mean, is the idea to catch the unwary in their faux pas, only so that we can enjoy the moment we pounce and show them how much smarter we are?  Or is the idea to have people live by these rules.  Because if we are going to have rules, shouldn’t we lay them out so people don’t break them?  Do we want them kept or not?  Are they rules, or are they just pranks we play over and over?

But I digress.  I’m intrigued by the idea of knowing what the “unwritten rules” are, maybe only so I can kick the shit out of the next dumb bastard who tries to outsmart my genius 190 IQ Newtonian brain powered rapier wit when I’m casually sucking down a brewsky (or is it “brewski”?  I guess it depends on if it’s imported).

As you may have deduced, you Sherlock you, Professional Baseball is notorious for their many unwritten rules.  Now I realize that by listing them here, I’m perhaps violating a hundred years of a sacred baseball “unwritten” tradition, and risking a midnight visit from the Ruthian ghosts of baseball past, but since I usually don’t get home until after 2, I’m not scared.  Plus my wife will kick their incorporeal Yankee asses anyway.

I actually know a lot about unwritten rules.  Marriage is full of them.  Marriage is defined by them.  Venus-born wives LIVE for the chance to catch us breaking them. In fact, every 28 days, no matter what you do, you’ve broken at least a dozen of these rules.  And asking “what did I do wrong” is also against the rules, because you Damn Well KNOW WHAT YOU DID WRONG and don’t try to sit there all innocent and s*%$ [insert two-week silent treatment here].  Don’t ask me to tell you what they are, I don’t know.  I only know that the one time I thought I outsmarted her, and just decided to apologize profusely for whatever it was I did wrong, she outsmarted me again:  “Okay, tell me what you did wrong.”  Sigh.  Cheater.  Now I’m a rule breaker AND a liar.

The baseball unwritten rules are interesting.  And what’s most interesting is that we only seem to learn about them when A-Rod does something unusual.

Only A-Rod would find out that it’s against the baseball rules to play poker at home with buddies.  And how would he know that playing poker is against the rules?  Wild Bill Hickock is an American folk hero and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1979 because he was good at cards (okay, and guns  too – but this isn’t a blog about Plaxico Burress’s aim).  But in baseball’s secret-rule society, A-Rod is prohibited from playing on pain of making it more unlikely he will be elected to the Hall himself.  Although this may be because A-Rod is a chronic unwritten rule breaker that the baseball unwritten rule makers decided to invoke the unknown “poker” rule against him, and only him.  After all, you’re not supposed to slap the ball out of the first-baseman’s glove when being tagged, or run over the top of the pitching rubber when trotting back to the dugout (almost running into the pitcher), or yelling “I got it” as you run the bases and the third baseman is about to catch a fly for the inning’s third out.  No, no, no, never ever, ever do that…unless that is, you’re A-Rod and you’ve slept with Madonna, Kate Hudson, and Cameron Diaz.  Now THAT triple play should definitely break some unwritten rule!

Even women’s baseball is bound by these little unknown nuggets, such as when Tom Hanks explained, like everyone already knew, that “there is no crying in baseball.”  Unless of course you’re a Cubs fan, then by all means weep profusely!

So, here are some of my favorite unwritten rules for you to consider and, hopefully obey, not in any particular order – just so you know.  And you thought ignorance was bliss:

1) A bar clock must always be ahead by 10-15 minutes, and then vehemently denied by the staff as being an error.

2) Get out of the fast lane on the freeway, unless you are towing an 80-foot lawn-care trailer and it’s the middle of rush hour.

3) Never chase four guys out of a cigar store for taking a five-finger discount on a few Macanudos (In fact if they are Macanudos, especially the 1968 series ask the young hooligans if they would like to take the rest of the box free of charge).  Now I’m not saying this rule might not apply equally to 1926 Padron Anniversarios, but there are four of them, there are a minimum 23 outstanding warrants between them, and you ain’t Indiana Jones, and your pocket-sized Derringer two-shot is still sitting in the drawer in your office.  Yeah, you know who you are, gimpy.

4) Never ask if a cigar is a Cuban, or if an 8-ball is blow.  Unless you’re asking a guy who looks like Al Pacino and he’s sporting a slurred Cuban accent.

5) Never ask a guy’s age in front of his date (assume he lied to her when they met and now he can’t remember what he told her); never ask his date if that’s a jailhouse tattoo (personal safety); never ask if a guy is wearing underwear (like Dan Patrick asked Fritzy on air); and never ask for a “booster” if he wants a receipt for a college-athlete money handshake.   Kinda like “Don’t tug on Superman’s cape.”

6) Never pull off your soccer jersey after winning the World Cup if you ain’t got boobs.   Could we have a designated soccer-scoring stripper?  I vote Jayne Mansfield.  Even dead, I’m thinking more cleavage than Brandy Chastain.

7) Unless you’re Roger “wasn’t me” Clemens, never throw a career-ending heater at a batter’s head, never give up the chance to take the 5th Amendment when Congress asks if you took steroids (me with the Constitution again), and never act like a complete dick when trying to get a perjury jury to acquit you.

8) Never throw golf clubs, no never, never never, even if you truly suck (because we all suck).  Of course, if you’re Stevie Williams, you are certainly permitted to throw Tiger’s nine iron in the lake and then throw Tiger under the bus when you get fired.

9) Never sing along with a rap song if you are either white and/or have a college degree.  You do not have the skill to sound like anything but George Bush giving it a cross-cultural, but lame-ass college try (we can debate his politics, but not his lack of rhythm — ugh).  I’m not saying it’s impossible for someone like that to be good at rap, but your chances are a lot better of trying to land a date with Emma Stone and star in a Zombie movie with Bill Murray.

10) Never ask for imported beer when the bar’s top shelf option is Miller High Life – I’m just saying that it’s not fun to have your body dumped across the Texas border in the dark, you damn illegal immigrant.

11) And finally (and no, there is no unwritten rule that every list must have 10 things in it, David Letterman be damned), never never never audition for a TV reality show.  The worst thing that could happen is you might get picked.  And the worst thing it says about your personality?  You got picked.

Okay, I need to get back to the bar fight.  Go away and leave me alone.  Until next time, cigar babies, enjoy your fisticuffs.  More later.

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