Don’t you just hate it when you’re on the VIP list for entry to one of the exclusive late night discos, in Wellington, and some boor barges his way up to the security guard and tries to bamboozle his way before you? It very quickly degenerates from an, “Oh, there must be some mistake. I’m an old school pal of Mr Rotten and Mr Vicious. They’d be very upset to hear that I’d had some trouble getting in,” to a much more ominous, “Do you know who I am?”
I would venture to say the “Do you know who I am?” gambit is the single most annoying phrase in the English language. There’s something about resorting to this tactic. It makes us want to cheer for the underdog, the insulted, and, at the same time, squash the insulter with a few bons mots.
Do you remember when NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair, was caught berating a Parliament Hill security guard, using this very line? The apology came faster than the news itself. Former Conservative MP and would be Liberal candidate, Eve Adams, tried the same gambit. A video camera caught her taking umbrage at the service of an Ottawa gas station, again using the same technique; mortally wounded was she.
Use of the, “Do you know who I am,” phrase just begs for a snappy comeback; except the human brain, being what it is, the apt snappy comeback usually comes to mind about 30 seconds too late. “If only I had thought of it in time.” So, let’s put out some suggestions to have at the ready. I’m going to bypass obscenities, as they lack elegance, should be custom crafted and shouldn’t be published on a fine, subversive website, such as GurbStreet.ca. In keeping with the best traditions of internet surfers, let’s do it as a Top 10 list.
Number Ten is the “Bring it on” response. “No, I don’t know who you are, but I have a feeling I’m about to be told.” This retort has the advantage of anger diffusion, without being an out and out insult to whoever is ranting.
Number Nine, the “Take it literally” response has strong possibilities. “No sir, I don’t, but perhaps you are carrying something in your wallet that would help you remember.” This response has the advantage of being superficially polite while containing a substantial dose of venom.
Number Eight, is the “Turning the table” response. “No madam, I don’t, but I’m sure you know who I am.” That has the advantage of requiring the boorish person to think up a response of some sort.
Number Seven, is the “Not as famous as you think you are” response. “Oh, I’m sorry Your Holiness: I didn’t recognize you without your white robes on.” Perhaps this one is a little heavy on the sarcasm.
Number Six, is the “Damning with faint praise” response. “Yes, now that you mention it, I do. You’re the fellow that played the bartender in that scene in ‘Porky’s.’ Step right up and let me get your autograph.” This one takes the dramatic initiative away from the insulter.
Number Five, is the “Sounds like saying sorry” response. “Oh, I’m sorry sir, no I didn’t. Let me give you this VIP ticket, with our apologies, that entitles you to stand in line with everyone else and wait until your number is called.” The success of this one is all in the timing; let’s call it the Jack Benny option.
Number Four, is the “Pandering” response. “No madam, I’m sorry I don’t, but you must be a very special person with special needs. Do you need a special soundproof room or a tranquilizer or something?” Quite an insult, really, equating over the top impatience to a disability.
Number Three, is the “Call upstairs” response. “No sir, I don’t, but if you show me some identification I’ll call my supervisor and see if we have you on the list of people entitled to make stupid remarks and jump the queue.”
Number Two, is the “Show me your stuff” response. “No, I didn’t realize you were anyone special. Tell you what, though, sir: take your pants off and put them on again both legs at once and I’ll let you in ahead of everyone else.” This remark issues encouraging language, while effectively telling the haranguer to get stuffed.
Number One, the best retort, is the “Almost too obscure to count as a putdown” response. “Yes, let me think. Didn’t I meet you at that club Groucho Marx used to belong to?” Now that it’s 2016, an alternative would be “Didn’t I see you on the video going in to that party that Paul McCartney wasn’t allowed in?”
There you go: ten snappy responses all ready to clip and save. Now if we could just find someone about to crash a lineup at a late night Wellington disco, we’d be all set.
Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.
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