The Art of Complaining

Ok, I give up.  I’ve tried to be a bit more soft-spoken, but apparently you can take the girl out of America, but you can’t take the brash American out of the girl.   And the brash quality I’m missing today is complaining.   I’m sure there are Brits who can complain with the best of them, but unfortunately, I’m currently in a microcosm of character.  The nerve of these people, what with their gratitude and discipline, talking about how fortunate they are.  Don’t they know that it’s all a race to get as much as possible in this life?   Haven’t they heard of self-centeredness?  Sheesh.

Last night I was flipping channels, killing my usual zombie time where I can’t sleep but I’m just waiting to get sleepy, and I found Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.  He was showing the footage that didn’t make earlier shows—asides about how much he felt like retching from the previous night’s debauchery.   He had one great line, coming out of his hotel in Iceland to a pitch-black, bleak morning, wearing a puffy jacket and sunglasses, joking about how what he really felt like in that moment was being around lot of people and cameras, being friendly, and consuming the grilled intestinal parts of various animals.

Yeah, I guess it sucks to be even Anthony Bourdain sometimes.

Poor you!


But it got me thinking as to why he’s so refreshing lately, and it’s gotta be because he doesn’t hold back with the complaints.   I think I’ve said this before on BPRB—I really miss fast-paced, neurotic, dramatic people.  Throw in some well-placed complaints and I will worship at your feet right about now.

Here’s what the Brits don’t seem to realize about complaining—it’s an art form.  With hyperbole, a flair for character and jabby one-liners, it’s just street theater.  And who doesn’t like a little street theater?

Can we all just please stop and acknowledge how much it sucks to be herded into the Tube Station at Oxford Street during rush hour like a herd of cattle to slaughter?    Can we?   Oh please?

Shoot me.

I don’t cram myself down to the platforms every day, and would be so much more crabby if I did.  Is that possible?   More crabbiness?   (Ah, the neighbor kid just started playing his video games two feet from where I’m sitting, on the other side of the wall.  Beep, beep, boop, beep-boo-bee-bee-bee.   Yes, heightened crabbiness is possible.)

That was one good thing about teaching high schoolers.  A lot of them didn’t have game faces yet.  They’d come fainting in to my classroom, surrendering their massive backpacks to the desk with a thud.  Then they’d launch into a monologue about their horrendous day.    I don’t miss a lot of things about being in the classroom, but I do miss the teenage sense of drama and melodrama, a quality I’ve decided to hang on to for, oh, maybe just a few decades longer than necessary.

Perhaps the best moment of British complaint I’ve seen was on the television shows Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Women.

I am a grumpy old woman trapped in the body of a not-yet old grumpy woman.

As curmudgeons go, they’re ok, but I think Anthony Bourdain might have them beat, with the ability to sun himself in the Mediterranean, devour the best food on the planet, and still somehow maintain his capacity for the tragic.

Anyone know of any local complaint-friendly venues?   Complaint salons?   Any pound-per-minute complaint hotlines?

The irony is that the Brits, as far as I’m concerned, should get a free pass to complain whenever they want with the gloomy weather. That’s enough right there.   Add in the ultra-crowded conditions and ridiculous cost of absolutely everything, and everyone should have a Recommended Daily Allowance of complaining.   You should take it in the morning with your Omega-3 Fatty Acids or your flax seed.  Truly, they’re looking a gift horse in the mouth.   I guess someone else will just have to do their complaining for them.   Good thing I’m here.

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