The Metrics of Fool-Shaming
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool me three times, okay, I should have seen that one coming.
Fool me four times, wow, you’re really on quite the fooling spree, aren’t you?
Fool me five times, alright, now you’re just being a jerk.
Fool me six times, pfffft! What’d you put in my coffee? Really thought you weren’t going to fool me that time.
Fool me seven times, damnit, I knew you weren’t to my left. What are you even gaining from this never-ending trickery?
Fool me eight times, more ink on my tie? Real funny. I’m asking you politely, I would appreciate if you would stop fooling me.
Fool me nine times, gah! Now I’m out of data for the month, thanks a lot. I give up, Randy, what do you want from me?
Fool me ten times, ow my nose! Please, it can only take so much, I have a sinus thing. Is this some kind of game for you? Some petty revenge? What did I do?
Fool me thirteen times, this is getting old. You can only fool me so many times. Seriously, I know that pig-in-a-wig is not my wife. Just tell me what you want.
Fool me sixteen times, Christ! I’ve barely an inch of counter space left for another blasted knife block! Just please!
Fool me twenty-one times, ok ok you have all my passwords and account info. I get it, you can fool me! Now stop it!
Fool me twenty-eight times, where did you even get the deeds to these tracts of unarable swamp-land? The paperwork you must have done for these fools alone is unreal.
Fool me thirty-seven times, phishing schemes! Pyramid schemes! Ponzi schemes! When will the schemes end?!
For me thirty-nine times, identify theft is a crime, not a joke, you lunatic!
Fool me forty-four times, you’ve bled my accounts. You’ve sullied my face. You’ve replaced my fish with a non-fish entity! You’ve secured my organs for donation! I’ve nothing left for you to filch!
Fool me fifty times, it can’t just be you, there must be more people involved in this! The sheer logistics alone—
Fool me sixty-two times, how high does this go up??
Fool me eighty-eight times, how did you even get in touch with the U.N.? You must have spent years, decades devising these fools!
Fool me one hundred-fourteen times, you’re a sick man, Randy! Sick! Shame on you!
Fool me one hundred-fifteen times, ok I shouldn’t have said that! I’m sorry, please please no! I can’t bear another tract of unarable swamp land! You’ve fooled me into signing mortgages in every time-zone around the globe! Even ones without land in them! Just stop!
Fool me three hundred-two-thousand-fifteen-ten, I CAN’T EVEN COUNT ANYMORE, HOW MANY TIMES MUST YOU FOOL ME, YOU MONSTER! WHATEVER GAME YOU ARE PLAYING, I FORFEIT. I QUIT. I WAVE MY WHITE FLAG. YOU WIN!
FOOL MEEEE FOOOL, ARE YOU FOOLING ME OR AM I FOOLING ME? IS THERE NOTHING TO THIS WORLD BUT AN ELABORATE FOOL?
WHO ARE I?! WHO AM YOU?! FOOL IS WHO?!
Fool me seventeen million times, shame on you.
Oh hello there, peer, let us begin our verbal exchange. Here’s how this will unfold: I will make a series of unnecessarily high-brow references, and I want you to just stand there and nosily chortle at the appropriate times after each one like we both know what I’m talking about. No one else can even hear us right now, so this petty charade exists solely for you to milk my waning intellectual ego enough to last another five months until we see each other again. And, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it certainly will all sound like a tête-à-tête more appropriately suited for a David Foster Wallace footnote than the director’s commentary on a Fellini film.
Now before we continue onto another topic, I want to reiterate that that was an excellent reference I just made, and by the sound of your unnatural rhythmic exhales, I can tell that you understood both the literary allusion and its comedic value to our current dialogue. I’m glad that we agree. Unlike the conservative wing of the Supreme Court in the Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. decision.
With that second outstanding reference, that makes two in a row. Perhaps if I make a third outstanding reference in a row, you will understand the full extent of how intelligent I am. Prepare yourself for this next reference, for it will be a good one: perhaps even as good as Nietzsche’s conception of the idealized Übermensch.
. . .
I could not help but notice that you failed to suitably bare your teeth and bark into the air following my latest outstanding reference. Was this a failure of my memorized reference (impossible!), or the first example of a newfound perception that you are not as intelligent as the peers I intend to make references to? Following our exchange, I will embellish this example to my wife, and implant in her the same notion that you are an unsuitable peer for our company. But not quite as unsuitable as Shakespeare’s Katherina, the only shrew more fitted for Dante’s second circle of the Inferno than a dinner party with the Donner family.
You seemed to enjoy that fourth outstanding reference, and the fact that you tittered sufficiently makes me like you more, because I am taking it to mean that you are acknowledging my vast intellect as greater than your own.
For my fifth, sixth, and seventh references of this conversation with you, I will simply state the names of historical, literary, or political persons without any context, and I want you to laugh after each one, because you recognize them:
That last exchange of references for laughs was particularly satisfying for me, because each one stemmed from a different category of my supposed intelligence, implying a certain broadness to my limited reservoir of knowledge.
Because said reservoir is now running thin after that impressive volley of references, I will now pass the burden of conversation onto you. This is your opportunity to demonstrate to me that you have also memorized a couple of Wikipedia articles. Begin.
Instead of making a reference, you are inquiring as to my new child. Such uncultured topics should be relegated to the brothels of Medici’s Sicily, not a fine establishment such as this nouveau Americano bistro. Your choice of topic sickens me and I will pretend my wife is waving for me to go over to her. Goodbye.
Published 10/24/14 in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
Haters are always up in my grill, telling me “Shep this,” “Shep that.” You think I need you fools telling me how to live my life? You think I made it 26 badass years by listening to dumberonis like you? Well, guess again: No one tells me what the hell to do! Because I already know what my available actions are within any given context after having been normalized through two and a half decades of regimented socialization, stupid!
You think I don’t know that yelling out loud in public is only appropriate at sporting events, raucous music venues, and in the immediate aftermath of a robbery or assault? I’m no idiot, IDIOT!
But no, you think I’m a baby. You think I’m a whiny toddler who needs someone to tell me what to wear and what to eat, “Wear this bib, Shep! “Eat that carrot, Shep!” Guess again! I can do whatever the hell I want—within very narrow constraints of socially acceptable human behavior, be that referring to context-appropriate attire, behavior, or hygiene.
I wear button-downs and cologne to semi-formal events, what of it?!
Everyone thinks they own me. My mom. My step-dad. My new step-dad. All those panty-eaters at work. Well, listen up: I’m my own man! Given that I pay a third of all my income to a higher organizational body, into which I have zero input, and that the income that I make is by performing specifically delineated tasks that I’ve been trained for since age 6 from a standardized beginning to ending time, mofo.
No one owns me! Until I don’t pay the aforementioned federal or state dues and am thusly sent away from my family to perform free labor against my will. No one!
And you can’t just put a price on me! Because my value to society is already set by strict municipal, state, and federal codes. The military, for example, values my life at $129,000, no matter what my brother Rick says!
Screw off, Rick!
So how about: Don’t fuck with me or else! Cause you better believe I’ll reach out to the suitable social safeguard in response to any negative threat to me or my family’s sense of wellbeing and safety. The police. A law firm. The media. Heard of ‘em, numbnuts?
Yeah, I didn’t think so!
Big man, look at you, look at you, trying to get all up in my business. News-flash: You’re not the boss of me! Jeffrey Preston is, my immediate supervisor, not to mention an expansive hierarchy of upper managers and executives whose decisions can indefinitely and without notice uproot my life. They are all my bosses. Not you, little bitch sauce, so back the eff off!
I live life how I want, whenever I want, after 5:30 pm on weekdays and most weekends. Y’all do that? I didn’t think so! Some of you work ‘til 7!
So, freak-a-zoid, let’s boogie, because I’m crazy! Cray-zzzzy! In the vein of a romantic comedy where I’ll do large and unexpected, but not entirely unprecedented gestures like fill a room with candles or sing a ballad to my girlfriend when proposing the one time in my life where that is completely appropriate and almost expected.
I make my own rules! In games such as Monopoly and other immaterial trivialities that have no bearing on the greater social and legal contracts to which I am unwittingly and without my input indefinitely subscribed. But come into my house and try to snatch $600 for landing on Go, you can get the fuck out! In other more important aspects of my life, I follow the rules very carefully, waiting in lines, speaking clearly and at appropriate intervals at restaurants, respecting property division lines.
Whatever the funk that is!
So what do you think I’m going to do, piss-ant? Be a punk-bitch and do what everyone says or be my own man? Because I would recommend to everyone that they adhere strictly to all aspects of punk-bitch life, because it has some minor monetary benefits and there are zero other options, unless you move to like the rainforest or something, where there is no plumbing or medicine, and also I love Cheez-Its.
1. You remember that you did.
Memory serves as a bank of perceptual information. Neural stimuli built up throughout years of schooling can provide sufficient evidence that you attended school in the 1990s. This confirmation method can be disregarded in cases of prolonged hypnosis, brainwashing, drug abuse, head trauma, electroconvulsive therapy, neuropsychiatric disease, and/or if you have ever entered an extended fugue state.
2. You are told explicitly by a trusted person.
Trusted people could include your parents, siblings, mentors, the President, or a longtime friend. Asking the person to repeat him or herself, or to put the statement in writing reduces the possibility of an auditory hallucination. You must further confirm that 1) the statement was not preceded by a clause like “as if” or “you did not”; and 2) that you were not in a play or improv scene where lying is commonly accepted, even from trusted persons.
3. You look up your name in the school’s database.
Schools maintain extensive records, including those of your attendance, grades, emergency contact, Social Security number, and allergies. In special cases, schools display examples of your artwork on their walls. Furthermore, digital records became commonplace in the 1990s when you allegedly attended school, so you can easily request this information if you can provide adequate proof of your identity.
4. You are frequently approached by passerbys with known details of your school life.
Former classmates that you bump into sporadically allude to details specific to your life, such as: your name, class year between 1990 and 1999, specific physical characteristics that have changed over the years, or stories that include you. This can be disregarded as statistical happenstance if you look like an individual that attended the same school, or if you have a twin sibling of which your classmates were unaware.
5. You have a customized class ring, graduation robe.
These items are costly and difficult to obtain if you did not attend the school in question, and therefore can serve as reliable indicators of attendance. However, such merchandise could have been gifted, stolen, or inherited from a person that attended such school in 1990s. Proceed with caution when using this classification if you have deceased relatives who attended school in the 1990s or if you are a petty thief.
6. You performed a notable deed and the school named the new gym after you.
Schools seek to highlight their alumni’s successes as they serve to boost the school’s brand and fame in a bid for better students, increased funding, and a greater sense of self-worth. If and only if you have not donated to the school such that the only reason for naming is due to your previous attendance, then you can reasonably conclude that you went to such school. Confounding variables for this method include: 1) if you are notable person living in the community the school is based or 2) if you are or have ever been President.
7. You did not go to school in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, 2000s, or 2010s, but you are educated.
Process of elimination.
8. You once ditched school to see the 1999 film Detroit Rock City in theaters.
Distributors New Line Cinema and Alliance Video only released this film theatrically in the 1990s, so if you had to leave school to see the musical comedy in theaters, ipso facto, you attended school in the 1990s. This is also true if you ditched school to see Bride of Chucky, Bulworth, and/or Dogma, featuring Jay and Silent Bob.
9. Come on, seriously?
Why are you even consulting the Internet on this one? Get a grip. There are four wars going on and something so sinister is happening right now in the Congo that it would make you hurl just thinking about it. Do something. Take some responsibility, you waste of organs. How the fuck did 300 million years of evolution culminate in you, you piece of shit? Wanna know how you know you went to school in the 1990s, you privileged nothing? Because you’re reading fluff pieces on the internet at a high paying job and texting two different fuck-buddies pictures of your butt. Bah!
Zack Bornstein is a Brooklyn-based comedian and filmmaker born in Seattle. He’s worked with The Late Show with David Letterman, MTV Networks, Conde Nast, Tribeca Films, Maker Studios, Animal Planet, UCB, and more. His work has been featured on Today, Good Morning America, VH1, MTV, Bravo, USA Today, Tosh.0, HuffPo, Buzzfeed, and College Humor. He writes/directs/produces for Garlic Jackson, which the New York Times called “some of the City’s best writers and performers.” Follow him @ZackBornstein for awful goodies.
The Humor Section features a piece of original humor writing each week. To submit, send an email to Brian Boone.
Mom, Dad, please listen, I—I’m sorry, this is hard for me to say, but I’ve developed a substance problem, and I need your help. I’m at the point where there are only two things in the world that make me feel happy anymore: serotonin and dopamine.
I know, I know.
Frankly, I can’t even remember doing anything without them—I understand that can be hard to believe—It’s just I can’t enjoy anything anymore unless I’m spraying serotonin and dopamine along the synapses of my reward circuitry to generate the neuropsychological perception of pleasure. Continue reading “McSweeney’s: My Neurotransmitter Abuse Problem”