When I was a youth, one of my first jobs was as an usher at the old (long-gone now) Albee Theater in downtown Cincinnati.
The Albee had been built in the '20s or even earlier, for plays and live performances of all sorts; it was an oddly ornate place to watch movies.
But by 1962 or so, when my little tale begins, the Albee had been reduced to a first-run moviehouse showing primarily blockbusters. Cincinnati has one six-screen arthouse now, far fewer outlets than Seattle, and I guess it was ever thus.
When I put on my uniform - we looked like soldiers in the Phillip Morris army - the film being shown was "The Sound of Music." That turkey was still playing 360 days and change later when I quit.
The experience of seeing snatches of that treaclefest more than 750 times gave me a lifelong hatred for Julie Andrews, musicals and the whole damn Von Trapp family.
By the end of my usher run I was rooting every showing for the Nazis to finally catch and silence Julie, even though my maternal grandmother was half-Jewish.
Overexposure to anything, but especially musicals, has other dire consequences.
"These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" is actually a clever, nice little musical ramble through sugary sentiment. But having heard it more than 500 times, I hate it more than the reign of Pinhead.
Which gets me to my point: some of my unfavorite things.
THERE'S ONLY ONE thing worse in the new, less polite, less Scandinavian Seattle than the yos and yoettes who blow through crosswalks on yellow and red lights, lips wrapped around their cellphones, dim, computer-battered eyes staring dumbly at the poor ambulatory humans known in more civilized precincts as pedestrians.
The kings and queens of crosswalk evil are those idiots who sit at a red light, waiting, waiting, and then start turning right just as pedestrians, who have patiently waited on the curb, try to hustle across on the too-brief walk light. And then these behind-the-wheel fools usually act angry, as if you're holding them up from something important, like say filling up their gas-guzzling SUV, or eating their fifth meal before the fall-drizzly gray day turns to a drizzly, even colder autumn evening.
Red means stop, and if you see someone in the crosswalk, wait, you ass----!
More than 60 Seattle folks were struck inside crosswalks last year by people who would probably frown on shooting someone but have no compunctions about running them over.
I think anyone who hits a pedes-trian inside the crosswalk's white lines ought to do a year in prison. I'm not kidding. These self-forgiving jerks are every bit as bad as some kid who robs a convenience store.
ANOTHER ONE of my unfavorite things is those folks who jump the line at bus stops.
There we all are, me, your grannie with her little tin-fence grocery cart, and that lovely girl who never smiles at me, standing out in the weather waiting for the 1, 2 or 13 for at least six or seven minutes.
Here you come, strolling up, blowing smoke out one side of your mouth while hollering some inan-ities into your ever-present cellphone.
The bus pulls up and you jump forward to be first to board.
No, yo, we were here first.
I'm not talking only about teenage boys here. I was one of them, and I understand that hormones have made them temporarily crazy. I'm talking about men in suits and women in nice dresses. The same allegedly "good" folks who blow through the crosswalks in their Hummers and Cherokees.
The problem with middle-class manners is that they are all about surfaces.
I don't particularly care how well-coiffed you are, or how well-shod you might be.
I'm more interested in your heart.
Kindness trumps politeness every time in my book.
Every resident of Lower Queen Anne knows that the neighborhood isn't the same on Friday and Saturday nights since the powers-that-be have turned the place into a pathetic nightclub district.
Last Friday evening, about 10, coming home from drinks at McHugh's with some friends, all Queen Anners, we passed two young jerks pissing in the parking lot of the still-open Easy Street Records. Both of these shorthaired, nicely dressed young Rentonites, or Kirklandites, were already drunk.
We who live here hear these yokels screaming from 11 to 3 every weekend night as they climb into their SUVs and head back to the godforsaken precincts of the city where anyone with a brain wishes they would stay.
The parking-meter fascists are busy ticketing, but the cops never seem to be around to bust these drunken idiots. Too busy being doormen and bouncers in Belltown, probably.
FINALLY, I KNOW most of the homeless folks who are regulars in Lower Queen Anne.
A few of these people might be a little obstreperous, but most of them do their newspaper selling and panhandling quietly and diffidently.
If you don't wanna drop a quarter in the quietly extended ballcap, even though you are doing very well financially, I guess that's your business.
But unless the homeless are putting their hands on your person, or uttering a profanity in your direction, keep you mouth shut and keep walking.
I can't count the number of times I've seen a healthy, well-dressed fellow dump some gratuitously cruel comments on the homeless.
You aren't cool because you can pick on those less fortunate than yourself. You're simply a heartless bully, an ambulatory cousin to the fools who think piloting 6,000 pounds of automobile gives them the right to terrorize folks in the crosswalks.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Doing that once in a while is one of my favorite things to do.