Before I moved to Southern California, I was only dimly aware of the rivalry that exists between USC and UCLA. I am happily ignorant of all sports other than hockey, so I had no idea that the 11th-greatest college football rivalry rages between these two schools, and I didn't know that this rivalry has spilled over into everything else about these two prestigious universities, to the point where attending either of these schools makes it a requirement that you hate the other one. The rivalry is such that most sports fans, and possibly most people in general, in Southern California can instantly state which of the two teams they support (or hate). They may not really CARE about the rivalry, but they know which side of it they're on.
Until very recently, I had no opinion on this issue. I did not attend either USC or UCLA. I had no connection to either of the rival schools, so didn't have even a vague preference for one or the other.
And then two weeks ago something happened that changed me. I now love USC, and will cheer for it forever and always. I bleed Trojan (is that their mascot?) red (is that their color?).
What could have possibly happened to turn me into such a diehard USC fan? Well...
The Loud Lady on the Airplane
How I Learned to Hate UCLA
a story by Mr. Megalodon Q. Pennyfeathers
Two weeks ago, I was flying from San Jose to Los Angeles. It was an evening flight and the plane wasn't full, so I was expecting a quiet, relaxing hour in the air on my way home to Southern California.
Unfortunately, forces conspired against me.
I was sitting in the middle seat of my row. In the row directly in front of me, the middle seat was empty. The window seat was occupied by a high-school-aged girl. The aisle seat was occupied by a woman I would learn was thirty-four years old.
I learned her age because this woman conducted a very loud, very long conversation with the girl sitting next to the window.
Before we had even taken off (there was a delay while we were still on the runway because of a paperwork issue) the loud woman on the aisle started talking to Window Girl. It turned out that Window Girl attends high school in the Bay Area, and was flying to Southern California to tour colleges. This was a very fortunate coincidence, because Loud Lady had a TON of great advice about colleges. She was well-qualified to advise this girl on what she should do in college, because Loud Lady is a dance instructor at a high school and community college.
So you see, she is an expert in the field of academic advising.
Here are some highlights from the conversation they had for the next hour, which didn't even stop during the god damn takeoff:
- Window Girl hadn't made up her mind about which college she wanted to go to yet, but she was leaning towards USC, which had already accepted her.
- Loud Lady attended UCLA, and began lobbying hard for Window Girl to attend that school instead.
- "The most important thing you can do in college is to just take your time, take every class that interests you, even a little bit. Don't rush things. Don't feel like you have to commit right away. Choosing a major isn't important. Just join all the clubs and take all the electives you can." -Loud Lady giving advice that Window Girl's parents might not have appreciated.
- "*Loud indistinct yammering*" - Mercifully, I couldn't always make out exactly what Loud Lady was saying - but I could never block it out completely, even when I had headphones on.
- Loud Lady on the subject of negative things about USC: "They're stuck-up. They think they're better than everyone. They're just really arrogant, you know?" Here's a tip: if the ONLY bad things you can think of to say about your rival school are variants of them thinking they are better than you, then there's an excellent chance they really ARE better than you.
- Loud Lady loved her sorority, and made all of her best friends in it, including her very best friend, who is "Asian."
- There are lots of Asians at UCLA.
- There are also a lot of Asians at USC. Also Jews.
- During brief lulls in the conversation, Loud Lady was working on a crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine. She made slow but steady progress (I had a perfect view over her shoulder) on the "Easy" crossword puzzle, which was about the state of Arizona. The magazine also contained a "Hard" puzzle, which she did not attempt.
- "I used to do the UCLA newspaper crossword all the time!" -Loud Lady bragging. Window Girl seemed impressed by her ability to complete crossword puzzles, which confused me.
- "When you finish school you stop learning, so you have to make an effort to keep learning." -Loud Lady explaining why she still does crossword puzzles.
- Please go back and read the previous bullet point again slowly, and let it REALLY sink in.
- You STOP learning when you finish school. And so, to remedy the fact that all learning ceases when you aren't in school anymore, Loud Lady recommends...crossword puzzles.
- Jesus Christ.
- "I read The Da Vinci Code." -Loud Lady. At this point I let out an audible snort of derision, and I'm pretty sure she heard me because she said to the girl, "Yeah, this guy's probably laughing at me, but whatever."
- I am NOT sorry.
- "*More loud and indistinct yammering*"
- Loud Lady on her career as a dance teacher (she teaches the kind of dancing they do at sports game intermissions, specifically): "Some people like to make fun of it, and say 'Oh that kind of dancing isn't artistic.' But I don't care what they say. It takes a lot of talent to energize people with dancing at basketball games. It's really an art and a skill, because you know they aren't paying close attention because they're getting a drink or going to the bathroom or whatever, and you have to find a way to MAKE them pay attention. You have to tap into that energy - there's energy everywhere, you know? It's like Yoda. You're too young, you probably don't even know about Yoda."
- Window Girl actually had heard of Yoda, because she did not grow up inside of a cave.
At this point, perhaps you think I'm overreacting. Maybe you don't really think this woman was that annoying, and I seem like a jerk for bitching about her so much. I understand how this might be the case. You weren't there, so you don't know what it was like.
But there's one final part to this story.
Towards the end of our flight, the conversation in front of me had FINALLY ended, presumably because Loud Lady had said literally every single thing she could think of to say about college. Loud Lady was working on her crossword puzzle, and Window Girl was staring out the window.
The pilot announced that we were beginning our final descent into Los Angeles, which meant we probably had about ten minutes left in our flight. I looked over Loud Lady's shoulder at her puzzle, and noticed she still had about ten answers left unsolved in the crossword puzzle which, I will remind you, was the EASY crossword puzzle in Southwest Airline's in-flight magazine.
Loud Lady, knowing the flight was almost over, flipped to the next page of the magazine, which contained the answers to her crossword puzzle. I didn't find this especially odd, since it made sense that she would want to check her work and find out the answers she missed.
Loud Lady began copying answers from the answer key into her unfinished puzzle. This seemed a little weird to me, but I thought that maybe it was something that crossword-puzzle-obsessed folks like to do. Like maybe her motto was "Never leave a puzzle unfinished!" or something.
Puzzle now complete (because of cheating), Loud Lady leaned over and tapped Window Girl on the shoulder. Once she had her attention, she showed her the completed puzzle.
"See? I told you. I finished it!"
This woman...BRAGGED...to a seventeen-year-old girl she didn't know...about completing an EASY crossword puzzle...that was really just an advertisement for Arizona tourism...in Southwest's in-flight magazine....AND SHE CHEATED ON THE GOD DAMN PUZZLE.
All of my flabbers were ghasted at this point. I watched around the seat in shocked disbelief as Window Girl seemed to be honestly impressed with Loud Lady's thoroughly dishonest accomplishment.
"Wow!" Window Girl said, "That's amazing! How did you do it?"
"Well, it's easy once you've done a lot of them," Loud Lady said, "Like this one here," she pointed at a specific clue, "'Arizona Indian Tribe.' That's the Hopi. You know the Hopi, don't you?"
Here's the thing about the Hopi Indians:
If you've never heard the name of the tribe pronounced, or read how to pronounce it in a book, it might be a bit tricky. So let me do some quick research to make sure I've got it right:
How do you pronounce the word "Hopi"?
It's pronounced "hope-ee."
Okay, good, glad we got that straightened out.
Loud Lady did not pronounce it that way.
Loud Lady said "Hopp-ee." Like "Happy," but with an O.
So her sentence actually went like this:
"Well, it's easy once you've done a lot of them. Like this one here, 'Arizona Indian Tribe.' That's the Hoppy. You know the Hoppy, don't you?"
This lady, while bragging to a child about the easy crossword puzzle she cheated to finish, chose to brag about one of the answers she hadn't actually gotten on her own, and then smugly and confidently pronounced the word incorrectly because she didn't actually know it and had cheated to get that answer.
In conclusion, UCLA sucks and the people who go there are all insufferable morons.
Prediction: The Kings cheat and then brag about it.
Today's book is Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. It's about what a freaking liar that lady on the plane was.