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By Chris Vespoli

Hello, New York Natives reader. I write a thing on here called Awkward New York. It’s inspired by my uncomfortable interactions with the inhabitants of this fair city and my trying (and often failing) to become a better person. If you’ve never read it, well, you’re reading it right now. By the way, what I’m doing here is something people in show business call “breaking the fourth wall.” It’s when someone in the thing you’re watching — or in this case, reading — talks directly to you. Also, in that moment, that person can see what you’re wearing. Don’t ask me how, they just can. By the way, that’s a great t-shirt. I’m a big Morrissey fan myself.

Instead of regaling you with my normal bullshit, I thought I would do something different and take time to address some of the comments you’ve made on my articles. Internet comments are a funny thing. In years past, when you watched or read something you hated or disagreed with or otherwise had a strong opinion about, unless you were a published critic, your words would never get back to the person you were badmouthing. It’s not like you’d say how much Miami Vice sucked, and then Don Johnson would just magically hear what you said. And if even if he did, he wouldn’t give a fuck because he’s Don Johnson. Don Johnson don’t have time for that. I, on the other hand, apparently do have time for that, because I will now respond to some of the your more awkward comments to me.

People by far had the most to say about my article detailing how I was “fat shamed” at Dunkin’ Donuts. If you didn’t read it, all you need to know is an employee pointed out my protruding belly as I was buying donuts. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, and I’m really not that fat. (I’ve even lost weight since then.) I was just having some fun by overdramatizing the whole thing. Unfortunately, people took it way too seriously.

Some commenters chose to say that I am indeed fat:
momoko10: “Guy who eats donuts before going to bed every night is sensitive about his figure.”
Ross Carnegie: ?I don’t think the problem is that he called you out for being fat; this is merely an observation. The actual issue is that you are overweight.”
Fine, fair enough. I pretty much walked right into that by writing an article about a guy calling me fat. But this one commenter took a ridiculous comparison I made to a Tom Hanks movie way too much to heart:
Jerry Briggs: “Your (sic) a POS. You compare the reaction you had when he said “I can see your belly” to the Brave men who fought and died on the Beaches of Normandy. “And then, time stood still. It was like the part in Saving Private Ryan when a bomb goes off right by Tom Hanks and all the sound cuts out. A bloody limb flew this way…a hunk of dirt and shrapnel, that way…” Your cavalier attitude of men fighting for your freedom to say that is disgusting. If it was your bloody limb would you say this. Your (sic) a PUNK!”

Dan Ricchezza: “Amen to that, Jerry. This guy is the personification of Pussy America where everyone gets a trophy and they’re all special.”

Wow, where do I begin? I’m sorry you took my stupid joke as a slight on our veterans, Jerry. I have the utmost respect for the men (and don’t forget the women, Jerry!) who fight for our freedom. You see, I don’t really think someone suggesting my stomach sticks out too much is as bad as getting maimed on the beaches of Normandy. It’s a ridiculous comparison, which is why I made it. It was hyperbole, plain and simple, designed to make me look like a neurotic fool. But, I guess I made myself look like a punk and a piece of shit according to you. Tomato, tomahto, I guess. Oh, and Dan…The only trophy I ever got was in 1993. My baseball team won third place in PAL little league when I was eight years old. Granted, I had a .000 batting average, but I led the league in getting walked and getting hit by pitches, so it’s not like I didn’t contribute to the team.

These next two commenters questioned my manhood, and suggested only women are made to feel fat.

Dan Ricchezza: “What are you, a girl? Another guy called you fat. So what? Grow up.”

dasmith662000: “Can men really be “fat shamed”?…. I thought it was a good thing for men to be fat, that makes us funny and amusing and everyone really loves us for it…. And of course men don’t have any body issues. We’re all absolutely thrilled and so very impressed (perhaps overly so) with every single inch of our anatomies….. At least that’s what our culture tells me I feel.”

Stop being sexist, people. Not just women are made to feel fat. Guys know the struggle too.


This next person left me alone, but chose to make sweeping generalizations about the employee.

beardog1579: “I have found people from India, especially the men, to be rude, condescending and not consumer-friendly wherever they work. I thought perhaps it was because I was a woman and men in India are used to directing their women to wait on them constantly, so even though it upset me, I didn’t lose sleep over it. After reading this article I’m seeing that they apparently are like this to everyone, so now I’m thankful I married an Irish guy! If this guy has a boss who visits this store, I’m betting he’ll be looking for another place to annoy people in short order!

Whoa. OK. Number one, why do you automatically assume he was Indian just because the guy works in Dunkin’ Donuts? Well, come to think of it…alright, I think he was probably Indian. But still, to vilify his entire race as rude and condescending based on my interaction with this one guy is pretty insensitive. Second, he wasn’t even that mean to me. I was clearly the one overreacting. Third, why does this make you thankful that you married an Irish guy? Did you have a choice of only marrying an Irish guy or an Indian guy? If so, that sounds like a great reality TV show you were on and I can’t wait to watch it on FOX.

Some people actually had nice things to say, but were still awkward as Hell.

Russ Reimer: “God speaks through the Bible, church/teaching, circumstance, and other people he sends our way. On the other hand, life in these bodies is a losing battle. Forget the flesh…do what you can but don’t get crazy about it. Cultivate the spirit, and your relationship with the Lord…that is what you take with you. Eat donuts, drink soda…whatever…none of us gets out of this alive. More importantly, love everyone you meet…seek to serve, not be served, cut the internet off and read the Bible and pray for a change. Invest in your wife/husband and family…the football/sports games etc. mean nothing even two weeks later so get the priorities straight. GOD FIRST, family second, serve others, eat donuts and smile…or smile and eat donuts…it’s a chicken or the egg first deal. Yo mama!”

Thank you for your inspirational comment, Russ. It took you a while to get where you were going — like taking three right turns to make a left — but once you got there, I really dug your message of enjoying life. I appreciate your mentioning God and the Bible and the Lord, but I’m actually an Agnostic Atheist. Awkward. Though I have to say, if my priest back in the day told me I could have all the donuts and soda I wanted, I probably would have stuck with the church. Maybe we should talk?

At any rate, I’m thankful some people out there actually get me, like Linda Jackson…

Linda Jackson: “What is truly amazing about this cleverly written tongue-in-cheek piece is that it can extricate so much vitriol from so many people. I was feeling really good until I read the comments, and then I realized what fetid issues most people have rotting inside them. Relax and enjoy life a little. Have a donut.”

I think I will have a donut, Linda. I think I will.

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