In Which I Discover The Inexorable Tension Between Fame and Social Dysfunction Whilst In Line In Starbucks

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I was standing in line at the Starbucks in my building. A young woman was standing in line in front of me reading something on her iPhone. I do not know her, but have seen her in line before, and have exchanged minimal social pleasantries such as nodding, smiling, and refraining from brandishing weapons or showing incisors. As we stood there, the young woman started laughing. She looked back at me with that about-to-engage-me-in-human-interaction-even-though-I-am-clearly-waiting-in-line-for-my-goddam-coffee expression. I assumed my best I-really-don't-want-to-know-but-you're-going-to-tell-me-anyway-aren't-you noncommittal smile.

That's when she said "have you ever read this blog Popehat?"

I looked down at her phone, and saw that she was, in fact, browsing a familiar-looking page.

"….yes," I allowed, considering how to handle this.

"I found it by reading The Bloggess. It's great today. Do you like it?" [Note: Hyperlink not in actual verbal exchange.]

"Only some days," I replied quite truthfully.

Apparently there was something off about my affect, because she frowned. "I think the guy who writes it is a lawyer here in Los Angeles."

"Really?" I said.

"He's funny."

"Actually I hear he's kind of a dick," I said.

Now, in my defense, I was trying to work out in my head how I was going to follow that up with a big reveal. Was it going to be an I am Sparticus! type of thing, or an Abed-from-Community-doing-Batman I'm Batman type of thing, or a contrived self-deprecating type of thing? That sort of decision is not to be made lightly. But before I could decide, taken aback from my ironic self-abuse, she turned around, took a long step forward, and stopped talking to me.

I'm starting to think that even if writing ever makes me famous, my social interactions are going to continue to be strictly a one-day-at-a-time sort of thing.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    After it happened, I thought "nobody will ever believe that just happened, and if I point out that nobody will ever believe that just happened, they'll say I'm just lampshading."

  2. says

    So how long before this goes meta, the young lady reading the post, making the self-identifying realization, and then commenting here to close the loop?

    Excuse me as I set up a popcorn stand over here in the corner.

  3. Roho says

    For some reason, life is a little better today knowing there's a lawyer out there who can use the term 'Lampshading' in casual conversation.

    On the topic of which; do we think Ken could pull off the Bunny Ears Lawyer bit?

  4. says

    For some reason, life is a little better today knowing there's a lawyer out there who can use the term 'Lampshading' in casual conversation.

    Of all the links we've ever gotten, I may be must chuffed about the ones from TV Tropes.

  5. mojo says

    Self-depreciating humor as a pick-up method generally only works if the target understands that it's self-depreciating humor. Absent that understanding, you usually just look like a jerk.

  6. says

    > minimal social pleasantries such as nodding, smiling, and refraining from brandishing weapons or showing incisors.

    I've learned something new today.

    Two things, actually, if we count "refraining from brandishing weapons" and "refraining from showing incisors" as distinct bullet points.

    Thanks, Popehat!

  7. says

    It should be perfectly clear, for the sake of our readers, especially those readers who are brilliant, hot Ph.D.s and who are already irked at me because I accidentally left my wedding ring in the bathroom yesterday after my shower, that I WAS NOT FLIRTING WITH THIS WOMAN.

  8. PLW says

    Depends on the type of humor. I think physical humor depreciates much less quickly than, say, financial humor. Don't get me started on humor that depends on good will, which is pretty hardly persistent enough to be considered humor at all.

  9. Mitch says

    Played just about as well as your night of wine drinking with our friend who resembles Laura Linney during 3L Spring. Do you want to tell the story, or should I?

  10. Coyote says

    I must second that I find this post fetchingly meta, as telling the story about missing the "reveal" actually becomes the reveal.

  11. Jag says

    I admit I'm a little disappointed by the lack of a reveal, but I'll take Mitch's story in return.

  12. Mitch says

    Well, now I will tell the story.

    During law school, Ken and I were friends with an outstanding young woman who was ridiculously good looking (she resembled Laura Linney), extremely smart, entirely without guile and very serious. She (I will call her Laura – not her real name) also did not seem to have an active dating life. Ken spent a lot of time in Laura's company, and we all believed that Ken would have wanted to date Laura, if only she had shown some interest.

    One Monday during 3L spring (which is far too long ago), Ken and Laura arrived in class (or lunch, I can't remember where the story was told). Ken announced that he and Laura had quaffed many a glass of wine together during the prior Saturday and that Laura then announced, "I think I am drunk. And do you know what I like to do when I am drunk?"

    Ken expectantly asked, "No, What?" and could not believe his good luck.

    Laura then announced, "Take a really good long brisk walk in the cold. Do you want to join me?"

    Ken told us that he demurred. Everyone who heard the story laughed until they were near tears, except for Laura, who still did not understand what was so funny. After awhile, it finally dawned on her that Ken might have thought the answer to the quesion "Do you know what I like to do when I am drunk?" might have been a tad more intimate.

    Today's incident is entirely consistent with the wonderful, oddly-awkward and wicked smart guy I knew in law school.

  13. says

    1. I have no memory of that.

    2. It is not as bad as several of the stories I was worried you might tell.

    3. It is entirely consistent with my level of smoothness with teh ladies.

    4. If there had been an urbandictionary at the time, I would have excused myself and gone in the other room to look up "walk in the cold" before responding.

  14. Mitch says

    The thing that made the story so endearing at the time was that you told it, because your joy in entertaining us with this sit-com worthy moment overwhelmed your recognition that it made it clear to everyone (including – after some reflection – Laura) that (1) you were interested in her and (2) there literally was no circumstance in which she would reciprocate the interest.

    And with all of that, you were infinitely more suave than I.

  15. says

    Wait. If this is the Laura I'm thinking about, we did go on a few actual dates, until she very politely dumped me while we were watching The Simpsons. That sounds harsh, but you have to remember that this was before The Simpsons started to suck, so looked at properly it was remarkably humane. For a law student.

  16. Marc says

    Wait…we had someone in our class who resembled Laura Linney? Damn my total lack of social awareness…

  17. Ruth says

    Ken, reading this post has easily been the highlight of my day. Thank you for providing the merriment. What a bizarre experience your worlds colliding must have been! Her reaction when she reads this should be priceless.

  18. VPJ says

    In fairness, you are kind of a dick.

    Damn. Beat me to it, you fink.

    In fairness, it *is* kind of an easy one.

  19. says

    Okay, okay, so you weren't flirting with her. I can accept that at face value.

    But did you hook up anyway? "I'm kind of a dick" has never failed me as a pickup line. For a given value of "failed." And a given value of "me." And a given value of "pickup."

  20. Kelly says

    I think Ken only posted it so that this lady won't be waiting with a bodyguard or police escort the next time he goes to get coffee.

  21. Joe Pullen says

    You totally should have done the whole "yes I'm Iron Man" bit. Would have been priceless to see her reaction. After all you super sekrit identity has been blown by asshat Marc Stephens.

  22. Roho says

    "After all you super sekrit identity has been blown by asshat Marc Stephens."

    Whoah, whoah! I think it's pretty well established that Ken's relationship with Mr. Stephens hasn't progressed beyond a professional level (ie, taint snorting).

  23. Smock Puppet, Lawyer Without Pants says

    >>> Just what is the depreciation schedule for humor?

    Define the venue, please, there are all manner of state, local, and federal statutes which may apply.

  24. Smock Puppet, Lawyer Without Pants says

    >>> Wait…we had someone in our class who resembled Laura Linney?

    Hey, maybe it WAS Laura Linney boning (ahem! mind out of the gutter!) up for her part in Primal Fear

  25. Damon says

    You should have told her you were him and then told you wife she came on to you, and that now, officially, you have a groupie. You never know where it might have gotten you. :)

  26. steve says

    You have the best kind of fame. It can be turned off in public since no one knows it's you unless you admit it.

  27. steve says

    By the way, I believe you weren't flirting with the young lady. But by telling this story on line you are flirting now. You should know very well that most women would find this whole thing very charming.

  28. VPJ says

    Except? I think it should go: "Indeed, my wife posted…"

    "…my dear and lovely wife, whom is the only person in the world whom I have eyes for, posted…"


  29. Joe Pullen says

    Roho – Nope. Despite the fact all of us would seriously LOVE to see Stephens step in donkey doo doo even further, Ken's relationship with Mr. Stephens does not yet have appeared to progress to a professional (ie, taint snorting) level because Mr. Stephens still has not taken up Ken's invitation to "snort his taint". Perhaps Ken's last posting cured Stephens and his little quivering little nose of the desire to snort anyone's taint, much less Ken's, lest he get cuffed good and proper upside the head like a recalcitrant puppy.

  30. Blaze Miskulin says

    Ken, it could have been worse. I have a friend who's a blogger and went back to college in his 50s. In one of his writing classes, he was called in by the prof and handed someone else's paper–copied almost word-for-word from his blog.

    After convincing the prof that, no, he did not give the student that story, they both confronted the student. His reply was: "Oh my god! You're him??" And then promptly handing my friend the plagiarized assignment and asking for his autograph. :)

  31. Roger Smart says

    Best laugh of the day by far. It takes a real man to tell a total stranger (and a woman at that) that he thinks he's a bit of a dick. Especially when he doesn't mean it boastfully. You've been on roll here lately. Keep up the good work.