People aren’t trashy because of who they are, they’re trashy because of how they behave. That means the cast of Jersey Shore, Perez Hilton, and the Kardashians didn’t pop out of their mamas’ wombs wrong. To the contrary, they all had to learn how to be as trashy as a Louisiana landfill. Now trashy people have always been around, but the difference is that in our “any attention is good attention,” 15-minutes-of-fame society, a lot of people consider “trashy” to be an asset if it gets more people looking in their direction. Having every eye in the room on you isn’t worth it if the word “trash” is going through every head at the same time. The good news is that it’s easy to avoid the sort of behavior that gets you labeled as trash.
1. Profanity in Public
Last time I was in D.C., I was in a cab with a female friend and the cabby was playing rap music. Five minutes into the ride, the music got dirty. A song came on that actually referenced “p*ssy,” at which point I, his paying customer, had to actually ask him to change the station. Later that weekend, when we were on the metro, we had someone playing loud music in the back of the train. Of course, since it was D.C., maybe he had just arrived from some country that doesn’t have headphones — but I doubt it.
It’s just as grating when people curse in public or get loud in a restaurant. Are these backwards idiots not aware there are other people in the room? How about a modicum of courtesy to other human beings who are sharing space with you? Nobody wants to hear you rant on your cell phone, yell across the table to your cousin, or hear about how much you hate the F-ing Panthers. Pretend like you weren’t raised in a barn and show a little class.
2. Letting Your Brats Run Wild
Dogs have a natural urge to impose order on other dogs that are misbehaving. If a puppy bites down on an older dog too hard or won’t leave him alone, the adult dog will growl and nip at the puppy or force him on his back, not to hurt him, but to teach him some manners. Human beings have the same urges. When I’m around a bratty little kid who’s running wild and making noise in a store, instinctively, there’s this powerful desire to backhand him out of his shoes. Obviously, you can’t get away with that these days, but a lot of people would LOVE to do it.
There’s just something extraordinarily aggravating about a kid making an ass of himself and annoying other human beings right in front of his mother, who doesn’t have anything to say about it. Inevitably, these are the same sort of trashy moms who end up raising a stink when their wild kids get in trouble. If your rotten brat threw chairs, hit the principal, and got so out-of-control that the police were called and your reaction is to blame the teachers and the cops, you have a problem. Don’t blame them; blame yourself. You’re the trash that’s turning your kid into trash just like you.
3. Having a Nasty Yard
Once I hired a guy to do some basic things around my yard — rake leaves, cut hedges, etc. He did a reasonably good job and after he was finished, I gave him a ride home. To my great surprise, the same man who had just spent hours getting my yard in fighting trim had piles of rusted junk in his own. This was the strangest thing. What could ever possess anyone to take a pile of metal, old tires, or just trash and drop it in his front yard? At a minimum, you’d think he’d at least stick it in some forgotten corner of the backyard where no one would notice it. No one wants to see a house on the block with waist-high grass, Christmas lights up in March, cars up on blocks, a broken washing machine in the yard, and a half dozen chickens walking around. Clean that crap up and stop being so filthy!
4. Sleeping Around
Whether it’s flashing your vagina to everyone nearby when you get out of a car, screwing your friend’s boyfriends, or being on welfare with five different kids by four baby daddies, you can be assured people are judging you. Men tend to get off easier on this one, but they’re just as guilty.
The worst of the bunch, of course, are the ones who get women pregnant and then run for the hills, but the pick-up artist culture is creating a whole new wave of douches. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with men who want to learn how to get better with women. It’s the misogynistic “find ’em, F ‘em, and flee” mentality that so many of these jerks live by that’s so greasy and low class.
5. Dress for Failure
Ever seen a slut walk? The whole “idea” behind it is supposed to be that dressing like a slut doesn’t mean you “asked for it” if you get raped. That’s very true. But it does mean that you’re asking to be looked at as trash. If you’re a woman walking out of the house in an outfit that would fit right in at a Hollywood Halloween party — or if you were to stand on the corner for five minutes, the odds are high that some guy will stop and offer you money for sex — then you’re dressed trashy.
On the other hand, men tend to go in a different, but possibly even more disturbing, direction. When I was a couple of years out of college, I worked at a group home and was highly amused that some of the kids there complained that security always seemed to follow them when they walked through a store. Well, they were juvenile delinquents. If security was following them, they had their eyes on the right people. This gets into the whole Trayvon Martin “hoodie” controversy. If you dress like a thug, people will treat you like you’re potentially dangerous. If you want your neck tattoo, your hoodie pulled up over your head, and your pants sagging down below your behind, expect people to get nervous when you get in line behind them at the ATM machine. It’s not a race thing. If you’re a white guy dressed like a punk extra from Mad Max, you’re going to get judged just as harshly. People pay attention to the messages you send them with the way you dress. If that message says “slut,” “thug,” or even just I would fit right in at the people of Wal-Mart website, expect to be treated that way by people around you.
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