Lessons in Obnoxiousness

A google image search for ‘obnoxious’ reveals some interesting results. (image from activerain.com)

My college football blogger and satirist cyber-friend Spencer Hall wrote a humorous post the other day about the saga of former Major League Pitcher Kris Benson and his ex-Playmate wife Anna and their legal troubles. He closed the piece with the following:

You probably should have stopped reading at the first paragraph for the fun stuff, because the last paragraph of anything is where all the sad is.

The same applies to what I’m about to write. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Ryan takes pride in being obnoxious. Mostly we tolerate this behavior because a) it’s somewhat social and b) he wears us into submission with repetition. Because he struggles to pick up on social cues, Ryan’s comedic timing is … awful. He does not realize when to quit, or that offering a sarcastic reply when your parents are already annoyed is not the best idea.

I’d say this contributes to 95% of the arguments and yelling in our house.

But he can also be charming, and mischievous, and downright hilarious. Take the other day (the following would be considered hearsay in a court of law because it was relayed to me second-hand by both Riley and Veronica):

Veronica was driving both Ryan and Riley home from summer day camp. They also gave a lift to J., a boy we know through the kids’ sports teams. J. is a sweet kid, unfailingly polite. So much so, that Ryan has taken notice. So he decided to do something about it. He decided, unsolicited, to offer some lessons in obnoxiousness to his friend on the ride home.

Paraphrased, Ryan’s advice consisted of the following:

Lesson 1: If someone says “cut it out” you say “where are the scissors?” or “that would be vandalism.”

Lesson 2: If someone says “knock it off” you say “knock what off?” or just knock something over.

Lesson 3: Always be obnoxious to girls.

Lesson 4: Always be obnoxious to older people.

Lesson 5: (After J. continued to express skepticism) Just try it, you might like it!

We try not to encourage Ryan’s behavior by laughing, but sometimes it’s impossible. As Veronica relayed the story to me, I said at least he was being social, and engaged in a sustained conversation. We had a good laugh over it — sometimes that’s all you can do. Ryan was trying to be funny; there was no malicious intent.

But there was another motive, one Veronica shared with me when we were both home.

“So, Ryan told me why he’s so obnoxious all the time,” she said, fighting off getting choked up.

She went on to explain that Ryan told her he wasn’t very popular, and he noticed that the obnoxious boys were. So he figured that he could gain some popularity by being rude. A little piece of my heart broke, but then I tried to find the bright side. He cared enough about an abstract social concept like popularity to notice it, and aspire to it. That has to be a good thing, right?


4 thoughts on “Lessons in Obnoxiousness

  1. I know I was warned… but oh, how that ending got me. Jake is similar lately. I totally understand where you’re coming from. It is a social win, but….but…. sigh.


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