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In biblical times, lepers were required by law to warn other people of their approach by ringing a small bell. Looking back on it, forcing people who looked like bird-nibbled plums to announce themselves with music seems not only cruel, but superfluous, as well. After all, nature always provides us with some form of early warning when danger, or something disgusting threatens.
Lepers, as such, are not so much of a problem anymore. Instead, we have their social equivalent, people who are less infectious, but are no less repulsive to be around. I am talking about assholes!
Like lepers, assholes stand out in public. But whereas our ancestors were never reluctant to point a finger and shout, "Unclean!" people today are more cautious about making snap judgments. They don't want to accuse somebody of being an asshole just because he looks like one. They think that only by talking to someone can they evaluate his personality-type. This is undoubtedly pure bullshit.
The whole point of spotting an asshole from a distance is to give yourself enough time to begin evasive action. You shouldn’t have to wait until the asshole gets close enough to say, "Hi, my name's Tom," before you can determine whether he's an asshole or not. By then, it's too late. Assholes can be quite persuasive, and if you aren't on the lookout you could find yourself locked in for dinner with one before you know it. If you see the asshole coming, however, you’ll have time to come up with an escape plan.
Naturally, what action you take depends on the type of asshole with whom you’re dealing with. For example, if you see a tan, four-door Plymouth circling your block moments before two men in gray suits and wing tips come up the walk, you’ll know enough to flush your stash before you answer the door. Or, if the fellow on the porch is carrying a briefcase and wearing a three-piece suit with a gold Rock of Gibraltar lapel pin, you can simply feign a terminal-sounding cough that will have skipping the life and health insurance spiels and going directly to the burial policies. At this point, you can justifiably slam the door in the morbid asshole’s face.
The Basic Questions
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before there can be discussion of technique, it’s necessary to answer a few basic questions about assholes:
First, isn’t an asshole an arbitrary label to pin on someone?
Not at all. Think about the assholes you’ve known. Everyone who knew them thought they were assholes, right? And the only people who didn’t think so were other assholes.
Indeed, some assholes take a perverse pride in being assholes, and even band together in exclusive societies like the AMA and the Kiwanis. Of course, they don’t call themselves "assholes"; they go by euphemisms like "CPA" or "doctor." But it means "asshole" to everyone except their mothers.
How can I know if I’m an asshole?
You can ask yourself this: Am I now or would I ever be a car salesman?
To get on with the lesson, unless you’ve got a nose that can sniff out Hai Karate at 300 paces, your eyes are the organs to trust for detecting an asshole from any significant distance. As a rule, the better your eyesight, the better your chances of avoiding a pack of marauding assholes. Although the blind are shit out of luck, people with extremely poor vision should still be able to benefit from this lesson. If you can spot a fez at, say, 50 feet, you'll do fine.
By His Vehicle
An asshole can be spotted from the greatest distance when he is in his vehicle. I say "vehicle" and not "car," because assholes are frequently found atop tractors going 15 mph on an interstate, on Yamahas doing donuts in a cemetery, and in ski boats decapitating ducks. In fact, it can be stated with some degree of accuracy that up to 98 percent of all heavy equipment, two-stroke motorcycles, power boats, and golf carts are piloted by assholes. You can no doubt verify this figure from your own experience.
Transportation is very important to the asshole, who gets a great deal of enjoyment out of spreading himself over wide areas and being highly visible. What better way than in a chocolate-brown Porsche with "PORSCHE" written on the side to make sure that nobody mistakes it for a Fiat?
Most assholes drive expensive cars. (This is not to say that most assholes are rich. They just have a knack for allocating funds—car payments come first, little John-John's insulin second.) Porsche, Bentley, Aston Martin, and Rolls are West Coast favorites, while eastern assholes spread their pestilence from behind the wheel of a Lincoln Navigator, Range Rover, Mercedes, or a Maserati. Custom cab pickups with padded gun racks are big in the South, and in the Midwest, fashionable assholes traverse the flatlands via fully-loaded Chrysler Town & Country mini vans with gas governors and venetian blinds.
Certainly, there are assholes with bad credit who drive Acuras, Audis and such. But no matter what the make, model or year, there is always something about an asshole's car that announces, "I’m a fuckhead!" It might be a nodding ceramic dog in the rear window, or a mini-cathedral on the dashboard. Government license plates are a dead giveaway, and so are New York tags. Personalized plates that say things like "GO 4 IT"’ or "U812," or anything else for that matter, might as well read "AZZOLE." Bumper stickers, the litmus paper of asshole detection, always register positive.
Mini Cooper-driving assholes are particularly fond of bumper stickers because of what they call the “moth-to-a-flame principle.” When the asshole looks in his rearview mirror and sees some rubberneck (moth) trying to get close enough to read what the asshole would "rather be" doing, he stomps on the brakes, gets rear ended in the Mini Cooper (flame), sues the guy for all he's got, and finally buys some property in the Catskills.
As a general rule, accessories of any kind, from initials on the doors to steer horns on the hood, translate, "I’m one." If it's simply too dark for you to discern mud flaps, pin-striping, and the like, you can always spot an asshole's car by the way it performs in traffic.
Just because assholes prefer more personal modes of transportation doesn’t mean they’re not found on buses and subways. We all know better than that. Fortunately, they dress like assholes, and spotting one can be as simple as picking out a Roman collar in a bin full of string ties. In fact, Roman collars and string ties are two things to look out for, along with "HAPPY HOLIDAYS" bow ties come December. This last, jovial type of asshole is also fond of water-squirting boutonnieres during the warmer months. Spot the snazzy tie or the phony flower, and you avoid the hand buzzer.
By His Clothing
Assholes have to feel that they’re in fashion. The same guys who wore white turtlenecks and gold medallions many years ago then changed into three-piece disco suits and gold chains, two piece track suits, and today, extra low V-neck shirts, which are severely overpriced and low quality. They find this current style more suited to their needs—whereas you could wear only one heavy, gold medallion, there is practically no limit to the number of gold chains an asshole can loop around his repulsiveness.
I personally believe that the number of gold chains an asshole wears is equal to the number of years he has been an asshole, but since gold chains are out of style, we are now left to look at his rings and the tightness of his shirt, among other aspects. However, there are some assholes that will not let go of the past, and still assert that their abundance of gold chains makes them stylish.
There are few other pieces of jewelry that mark an asshole. A Phi Beta Kappa key is a sure sign (lots of people have them, but only assholes actually wear them), and so is a pinkie ring, but that's about it as far as particular items go. For the most part, assholes wear the same tacky ornaments as regular folks, only multiplied several times.
When it comes to wardrobe, the well-dressed asshole's closet contains most or all of the following items: a jogging outfit, lots of Express dress shirts, khaki shorts, or worse, denim shorts, ripped jeans, swim trunks that go above the knee, and sneakers that he wears to the beach bar. Naturally, the assortment varies a bit with individual tastes and regional customs. In the Midwest and South, for instance, denim overalls will replace the above the knee swim trunks, and the spiffy Canadian asshole is nothing without his fur hat and ear flaps. You have to trust your intuition on occasion. If your innermost self exclaims, "Lookit that asshole!" go with it.
It's not unusual that so many assholes wear uniforms, since they often recruit from youth groups like the Boy Scouts, Law Enforcement Explorers, ROTC, and Safety Patrol. These little brownshirts grow up with an obscene fondness for khaki, brass buttons, and biscuit-toed shoes, and as a consequence our police and armed forces are chock full of the effluvium from these organizations.
The general rule with respect to uniformed assholes is: The snappier the uniform, the bigger the asshole wearing it. For example, the Vatican's Swiss Guards are among the most obnoxious assholes in the entire world, while most mailmen are only occasionally annoying.
By His Accessories
Among the miscellaneous crap you'll find on an asshole's person is a purse. He might call it a "satchel" or a "bag" or a "big wallet," but a purse by any other name is still a surrogate scrotum. (This is a psychiatric fact; you can look it up.) If a fellow needs a container so he can keep his hankies and Hard As Nails handy at all times, he definitely exhibits the narcissism that is a prime characteristic of the asshole.
The assholes you encounter in airport terminals will, like everyone else, be carrying something to read. And you can easily peg them by their reading matter. A copy of Fortune or MBA or any similar capitalist periodical, as well as Psychology Today or Yachting will give the asshole away as surely as a Bible. But take special note of any asshole carrying a book like Winning Through Intimidation or Looking Out for No. 1, and don’t sit next to him on an airplane. You'll never be able to get the middle armrest.
On the street, the tell-tale accessory is often a dog on a leash. Actually, it's more the leash than the dog. Whether an asshole is walking a matched pair of Pekingese with sweaters and rhinestone collars, or a piebald Heinz 57, the fact that he must tether his own dog—the most loyal and brown-nosing of all four legged beasts—to his hand to keep the animal from running away, makes an undeniable statement about that man's charisma. In or out of bondage, dogs are expert asshole-spotters. If a pooch finds his own master repulsive, chances are good that you will, too.
Dull as our own instincts might seem by comparison, we nonetheless ultimately have to trust them. For reasons of space, this guide can be by no means comprehensive, but it really doesn't have to be. Ultimately, your instincts will steer you right. Don't worry, you'll know one when you see one.
Maybe someday assholes, like the lepers of old, will be required by law to ring a bell in public, and spotting them will be easy for everyone, even the blind. But don’t count on this ever happening, because the lepers, unlike today's assholes, didn’t make the laws.