The following is an excerpt from the Life Hecklers Encyclopedia—a book used to describe those people who think it is their business to make comments about our lives on a daily basis, no matter how uninformed.
Life Heckler [lahyf hek–uh ler]
- a person you have never formally met who tells you what you are doing right in life or, in most cases, what you are doing very wrong.
- a person you usually encounter on the street with strong opinions which he or she decides to direct towards you for a brief, startling moment. Often times, the source of this interaction has nothing to do with you… the heckler just needs to work something out within him or herself, you know what I mean? For the variety of ways in which a life heckler might manifest please see: Related Forms.
RELATED FORMS (and how to deal with them)
- Hopeful Love Interest Heckler
If you’re a woman living in a metropolitan area, your most common life heckler is likely the HLIH. This is the man who cannot just walk past you. He has to smile, nod and say something about how beautiful you are, how nice your body is. He’ll often pick something very specific to get the ball rolling. For example, you’ve just taken out your keys.
“Hey babe, you got the key to my heart?”
Perhaps you’ve got a nasty little habit.
“I wish I were a cigarette…so you would smoke me.”
As in this last example, after the HLIH has dished out some flattery, he’ll usually suggest the two of you do something together: eat breakfast, walk your dog, dance the horizontal mambo.
Be careful about how you respond, because this will determine how badly you’ll be heckled. A simple, “No, thank you,” can usually get the HLIH to just mumble the B-word in your general direction. Anything less polite, and he’ll probably follow you for 1-5 blocks while shouting the B-word. You can also expect:
“Who do you think you are?”
“It was just a joke!”
“Jeeze, can’t you take a joke?”
“I killed the Native Americans!”
True, that last one might sound crazy, but the seeds of the first three will already be planted. Are you acting all high and mighty? What’s happened to your sense of humor? In that moment, when you start to question yourself, you’ll know: you’ve been life heckled.
- Nonprofit Heckler
If you’re anyone living in a metropolitan area, you know the NPH (no, not Neil Patrick Harris… his acclaim goes further than the confines of the urban jungle). These are the people who stand on busy sidewalks, clipboard in hand, and ask you if you have a minute for gay rights, the environment, children, women, etc.
While we hope that those people are out there because they strongly believe in whatever it is they’re trying to raise money for, it is also their job. As such, they have to be on the street a certain number of hours, trying to talk to a certain number of people who don’t want to talk to them. Therefore, the NPH can be a surly sort. No matter how quickly you blurt out that while you do have a minute—many minutes, hours, days, a lifetime—for whatever their cause is, you’re late for work and can’t talk now, the NPH will still look at you with disdain.
Once again, “Who do you think you are?”
Since you’re late, you probably don’t have time to explain that you’re a very feeling person with very little money and, therefore, cannot spare a minute or monthly donation, the best thing to do is to try to avoid it altogether. Unlike the HLIH, the NPH will probably not try to talk to you if you have headphones in. And certainly not if you’re on the phone. So when you scope a potential NPH down the block, choose a prop and choose fast.
- Dog Heckler
Other dog owners generally make comments on the choices you’ve made for your own dog that differ from their own. For instance, use of a gentle lead, a collar that also loops around a dog’s nose that is meant to help correct bad walking behavior. If you use one on your dog, this probably sounds familiar:
Oh, I could never bring myself to put something like that on my dog. It looks so cruel. We fixed Sparky’s behavior with intensive training. The key is consistency.”
With those subtle hints at your shortcomings as a dog owner, you’ve been heckled.
Non-dog-owners focus on how vicious your pooch looks. One quick step in their direction and they’ll start yelling about how it’s about to bite them. This is especially problematic if this person lives near you, as he or she will act as if they have PTSD each time you saunter by in the future—flinching, mumbling under their breath that you’ve got a monster at home.
You can expect both types of DH to comment on your pup’s nutrition.
“He’s looking a little chunky today.”
“You can see her ribs, can’t you? Must not eat enough…”
“That dog is thirsty, look at it!”
To deal with a DH you can either nod and smile or give a blank stare and keep walking. Regardless, don’t bother saying anything—their minds have already been made up.
- Neighbor Heckler
Because you tend to walk your dog near home, the DH is often also an NH. Neighbors like to comment. On your trash, on your noise, on your preparedness for weather. For how to deal with an NH please see: Dog Heckler.
- Reality Television Heckler
Watching television can be fun, a great escape from the stresses of daily life. You turn it on, sit back, and relax. However, if you are to watch TV on a regular basis, be mindful of reality programming. A RTH can pop up out of nowhere. Sure you think you’re just watching the goofy dynamics of a couple of carpenters or fashionistas but then, all of the sudden, these personalities are looking straight out of the screen—making eye contact with you—telling you exactly what is wrong with your home and wardrobe. Sure they wear the mask of “improvement,” but what they’re really doing is judging.
Don’t let yourself be life heckled by your own past time. If it starts happening to you, turn that fucker off.